Welcome to NaNoWriMo! What It Is and How You Can Start Writing a Novel

The idea of writing a novel may sound romantic and exciting, but in reality it’s a pretty daunting proposition. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know) and you might be thinking about joining the hundreds of thousands of people who seek to complete the writer’s holy grail—a fully written, 50,000-word manuscript—within a month. Yes, it can be done. Read on.

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Started in November 2000, the competition has grown from 140 participants to more than 400,000. Not every NaNoWriMo author writes a classic, but a few bestsellers that began during NaNoWriMo include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

If you’re on the fence about NaNoWriMo, or worried you won’t be able to write 50,000 well-chosen words by November 30, don’t worry. The NaNoWriMo philosophy is to churn out as much material as possible without self-editing, in order to create a working draft you can return to. The months of January and February, called The “Now What?” Months, have also been taken over by NaNoWriMo in order to help writers devote time to revising and publishing their completed works.

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In the interest of encouraging NaNoWriMo warriors, we’re offering some of the best writing-inspired blogs and websites on the Internet as motivation, (in addition to the NaNoWriMo Inspiration Page). When you find yourself dragging in mid-November, check these sites for some stimulation or nuggets of useful information to get back on track.

Daily Writing Tips is a website that features short, daily posts on the proper usage of confusing words, grammar and style. It’s not only a great resource, but gives a little comfort by letting you know you aren’t alone in taking joy in writing’s finer details.

Poets & Writers features tools for writers who want to learn more about publishing, residencies, and other professional outlets. For NaNoWriMo participants, P&W also has a wide database of writing prompts to get those creative juices flowing.

Creative Penn, from author and blogger Joanna Penn, offers tons of tools and helpful articles to help writers stay on track. Penn, bestselling thriller author of the Arcane book series, has also published several books on writing. Her friendly, encouraging blog posts guide writers through the entire process from initial outlining to publishing to marketing. Especially helpful are her thoughts on overcoming writing-related anxiety and pumping out the first draft of a novel.

Writers Helping Writers is a blog dedicated to advice, support, and storytelling tools. Their Writer’s Toolbox contains numerous documents designed to help writers streamline their characters, prose and plots. The regular blog posts are informative, emotional and supportive for aspiring authors looking to improve their writing.

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds comes from the beautiful mind of the bestselling author of novels like Blackbirds, Zeroes and the new Star Wars: Aftermath. He is also an Emmy-nominated writer and prolific video game contributor. His blog discusses writing, pop culture and NaNoWriMo itself with refreshing frankness that’s inspiring and a place to commiserate.

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