Ready, Set, Write!

The first of November is usually marked as the day people do one of the following:
A. Nurse a mean hangover from that wild and crazy Halloween party they attended the night before.
B. Consume whatever candy they have left that didn’t get eaten by trick-or-treaters.
C. Begrudgingly head to the bank to get this month’s rent check.

However, there is also one option that is often looked over: D. The start of NaNoWriMo.

This elaborate acronym is short for National Novel Writing Month, an 11 year old tradition in which participants have 30 days to crank out a 50,000 word (175 page) full-length novel from scratch. The project first began in 1999 with barely 20 participants, and has since grown to include more than 150,000 people of all ages, totaling nearly 2.5 billion words.

NaNoWriMo is a perfect excuse for a budding novelist to test his or her skills, as well as a chance for those with no writing background to finally churn out that novel that has been in the back of their mind for years. To join, participants register on the NaNoWriMo website and create a profile, which lists summaries, word count and sometimes excerpts of their novel-in-progress.

“No plot? No problem!” The goal of NaNoWriMo is to just get people writing, and to throw caution to the wind. This is one case where quantity reigns supreme over quality.

In the online book community, there are multiple books, websites and writing programs shared between writers and bloggers that cater to those participating in NaNoWriMo.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the NaNoWriMo handbooks, which feature tips, tricks and inspiration for getting through the next 30 days.

In search of a writing software program to keep your soon-to-be masterpiece in order? StoryBook is available for download. Good news: the software is free. Bad news: it’s for PC users only. Sorry, Macs. But there’s plenty of other great writing software out there designed specifically with Mac in mind.

Need someone to crack the whip to keep you from getting distracted? Download Write or Die, a computer program that “puts the prod in productivity.” Settings vary from friendly pop-up reminders when you stop writing, to deadly kamikaze mode, where the program begins deleting words you’ve already written until you begin writing again.

Want to publish a paperback of your month-long hard work? CreateSpace, a vanity press, provides winning participants (those who reach the word count by Nov. 30) with a free paperback copy of their completed novel — plus the option to sell the book on

For those who aspire to one day become novelists, NaNoWriMo is a great way to get your feet wet. Many participants have actually gone on to publish a manuscript that spawned from the month long event, some even landing on the New York Times Bestseller list! Sara Gruen originally wrote Water For Elephants as part of NaNoWriMo and not only did her book get published, but it became #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list after its 2006 release.

So, what are you waiting for? Everyone has a story inside them that’s begging to be told, and now is your chance to finally become the writer you’ve always dreamed about. If anything, participating in NaNoWriMo gives you have a legit reason to procrastinate your normal responsibilities for the next 30 days. Ready, set, write!

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