How to Thrive During National Novel Writing Month


Books I read in May 2014. The one with no title showing is “The Essential Pocket Guide to Local TV News”.

Samantha Denny, Reporter

November is not just home to Thanksgiving, but also to the event known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  National Novel Writing Month is a worldwide event that encourages aspiring authors to try and write a novel within the span of a single month.  

Participants don’t need to sign up anywhere (but they can on the official NaNoWriMo website), and are free to write in the comfort of their own home whenever they choose.  Everyone simply sets a goal for how many words they want to write in the entire month, and then they write as much as they can every single day in order to reach that goal.  

If you can’t come up with a goal of how many words you want to write, you can shoot for NaNoWriMo’s general goal of 50,000 words for the month. provides a map of people around the world who have signed up on the website so that they may collaborate with other aspiring writers over the month of November.  The website also provides a calendar of various events that people who have signed up can partake in if they so wish, including virtual write-ins where people can compete against and inspire each other with new prompts.  

Another website,, is a nonprofit website that is run by  It allows participants to sign up and join a group of about eleven other writers, called a cabin, which encourages people to work together in order to reach their word goals for the month of November.  People can choose to be in cabins with other writers, where they can receive feedback and constructive criticism on their stories as well as ideas for what they can write next.  

While NaNoWriMo participants may sign up on the official websites, these websites do not publish their stories.  If a person wanted to finish and publish her work after NaNoWriMo had ended, she would need to find an agent and get it published herself.  In this way, NaNoWriMo provides encouragement to get to a place, but a person needs to put in a great deal of effort to meet that goal.  

As for aspiring novelists who can’t come up with an idea for a plot, never fear: the internet is here.  Websites such as,, and even community.sparknotes have an array of ideas ready for people to pull inspiration from.  

Suggestions range from people transforming into their Halloween costumes to a hero who needs to stop someone from destroying the universe and everything in between. recommends that writers think of “what if” scenarios to come up with ideas, such as “what if I turned invisible?” or “what if Canada took over the United States?”  One blog,, provides viewers with a list of fifty different ways to come up with a plot, including using your fortune cookie and listening to the next commercial that comes on.  

In short, National Novel Writing Month is a month long event that encourages everyone, regardless of their age, to try their hand at writing a novel from their own ideas.  The event pushes people to set high word count goals and work to achieve them by writing every day.  The internet is home to plenty of resources for those who have trouble coming up with ideas or those in need of inspiration and criticism to help them build their story, and there are plenty of people worldwide who participate and are willing to help other participants through websites like and  And remember, it’s never too late to start writing!