Writing a Novel in a Month? Go on, you can do it, if not this year, next.
Editor's Note: The pumpkins are now decorated with turkey feathers, the waters are receding, it isn't tax time (yet), and after voting, you can turn off the commercials, so sharpen the pen or keyboard and go to it. Before you start, read Jane Shortall's piece about women writing, Dazzling All Comers:
How NaNoWriMo Works
1) Sign up for the event by clicking the “Start Here” button at NaNoWriMo.org.
2) Follow the instructions on the following screen to create an account.
2.5) Check your email for the account validation email and click on the link included.
3) Log into your account, where you’ll be prompted to finish the sign-up process.
4) Start filling out information about yourself and your novel in My NaNoWriMo.
5) Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.
6) On November 1, begin writing your novel. You write on your own computer, using whatever software you prefer.Your goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th.
7) This is not as scary as it sounds.
8) Starting November 1, you can update your word count in that box at the top of the site, and post excerpts of your work for others to read. Watch your word-count accumulate and story take shape. Feel a little giddy.
9) Write with other NaNoWriMo participants in your area. Write by yourself. Write. Write. Write.
9.25) If you write 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, local time, November 30th, you can upload your novel for official verification, and be added to our hallowed Winner’s Page and receive a handsome winner’s certificate and web badge. We’ll post step-by-step instructions on how to scramble and upload your novel starting in mid-November.
9.3333) Reward yourself copiously for embarking on this outrageously creative adventure.
10) Win or lose, you rock for even trying.
That’s all there is to it! Occasionally, participants write in to ask about the rules of the event. We don’t have many! But because we’ve found that creativity is often heightened by constraints (and communities bolstered by shared goals) we have evolved a handful of rules over the years. The rules state that, to be an official NaNoWriMo winner, you must…
- Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
- Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
- Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
- Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
- Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
- Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
- The Late P.D. James, Writing Within the Conventions of a Classical Detective story and Regarded as a Serious Novelist
- For Weekends, the Dark of Night and Beyond: Project Gutenberg's Best Books Ever Listings
- CultureWatch Review: Anna Quindlin's Still Life With Bread Crumbs
- The Moral Merits of Reading Fiction ... Not One of Literature's Strong Suits?
- Memoirs, Biographies, Historical Fiction and Science Fiction: Recommendations from Jane Gitschier's Bookshelf
- Finding Fame and Fortune As A Writer (Ha!)
- Taylor Branch, Barbara Kingsolver, Katherine Paterson, Natasha Trethewey: Authors at the National Book Festival
- When It Comes to Bodies in the Library, US Writers Take the Lead Over UK Rivals
- Bookfest On Book TV and the Mall: A Weekend of Literature and Authors
- CultureWatch Review: The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker