The Wonder of National Novel Writing Month


Photo by Caroline Duckworth

Sophomore Noelle Walker works diligently on her novel. This is her first year participating in National Novel Writing Month.

Imagine writing a novel in thirty days.

Insane, right?  Absolutely.

But every year during the month of November, hundreds of thousands of people across the nation attempt to do just that: write a novel in a month.  This phenomenon is known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that was “accidentally” created by Chris Baty, a freelance writer, with 20 of his friends during 1999.  It was not a writing exercise – their goal was to become novelists.  When the month was over, they found that writing a novel in a month was possible.  They saw that “noveling” was embarrassing, wonderful, painful, and fun.  They decided to keep it going and to share their “noveling adventure” with others.  The program has grown steadily, spreading and catching like wild fire.

In 2005, the Young Writers Program was founded to bring noveling to the classroom.  While adults are given a word-count goal of 50,000, participants 17 and under in the Young Writers Program are able to choose individual, reasonable yet challenging word-count goals.  At the end of the month, all participants who reach their word-count goals are rewarded with five free copies of their novel through CreateSpace, a member of Amazon’s companies.  During 2012 alone, 341,375 NaNoWriMo participants met their word-count goals and became novelists.

“It helped me learn how to endure because when I had writer’s block, I had to push through it,” said sophomore Joshua Bearden, a NaNoWriMo participant.  Too many writers are never able to finish a novel because they constantly go back and read over and rewrite.  During National Novel Writing Month, participants are instructed to lock away their “inner-editor” and simply write.  Throughout the month, pep talks from authors are sent out by email for encouragement, and once the month is over, resources are available to help novelists through the next processes of revision.  Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.


Works Cited:

Baty, Chris. Chris Baty. N.p, n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2013.  <> National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month, 2013. Web. 21 Nov 2013. <>

National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Office of Letters and Light, 2012. Web. 21 Nov 2013. <>