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50,000 Word Challenge? You Bet! November is National Novel Writing Month

Happy NaNoWriMo!  Wow, that’s a mouthful!  If you have ever dreamt of writing a novel November is the month to kick it into high gear…

person typing at laptop

Ready, Set, Go! Photo: Glenn Carstens Peters, Unsplash

For many of us in the Northeast November blew in with a roar from a powerful storm. The power might have come on just in time for aspiring writers to get their fingers tapping on the keyboard for NaNoWriMo. That anagram is National Novel Writing Month and that means that participants around the world are attempting to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. If you think that’s a lot of words broken down daily it’s only 1667!

The project was started by freelance writer Chris Baty in July of 1999 along with 21 other writers. That first year may have been a struggle to complete the 50,000 words because the next year the group decided to move the challenge to the month of November to take advantage of San Francisco’s miserable weather. The project has since grown to offer writers tools and motivation as well as tips for writer’s block and online community support.

Lots of books

A 50,000 word manuscript is the goal at the end of NaNoWriMo! Photo: Patrick Tomasso, Unsplash

Access to an online community means you will never be alone while you write your novel but even better motivation just might be the collection of well known authors who offer online “pep talks” each year.  This year’s NaNoWriMo authors include professor, editor and The New York Times Best Seller Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist, an Untamed State), Singaporean author Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend), NaNoWriMo participant and The New York Times Best Seller Julie Murphy (Side Effects May Vary, Puddin’, Ramona Blue) and Executive Director of NaNoWriMo and Co-founder of the 100 word story Grant Faulkner (Fissures, The Names of all Things).

If there is any doubt that people are interested in telling a good story, by 2016 the NaNoWriMo project had attracted 384,126 creative writers in 646 different regions, on six continents with more than 34,000 meeting the goal of 50,000 words. The book is definitely NOT dead!

And, this project isn’t just for adults. With the development of the Young Writers Program, NaNoWriMo has helped young writers participate in their own creative writing projects in the month of November independently and in the classroom.

Wondering if any of this writing during NaNoWriMo gets published? Take these three for example…


The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern – Romance, fantasy, and fairy tale all rolled into one novel!  Morgenstern began her novel as a NaNoWriMo project (2003 and 2004) and after many rewrites and edits the novel was published in 2011 and spent seven weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List.

water for elephants

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen – A historical novel about the bond between a veterinary student in charge of the care of the circus menagerie, a beautiful equestrian star, a brutal animal trainer and an untrainable elephant named Rosie. This beautiful novel was so successful it was adapted into a movie with Robert Patterson and Reese Witherspoon.

Cinder - The Lunar Chronicles book cover

Cinder, Marissa Meyer – A classic Cinderella story with a sci-fi twist. But if you need any inspiration for how much can be written when motivated, while Meyer wrote the first draft for Cinder she also wrote the first drafts of two additional novels (Scarlett and Cress). All three eventually were published as part of the Lunar Chronicles. During her writing month she surpassed 50,000 words and ultimately wrote 150,011 – now that’s a lot of words!

So, how’s that for a little inspiration? Happy November! Tell us how you plan to spend this month in our comments section…