Thursday, 28 October 2021

Time to NaNo

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

With November fast approaching, it's that time of year again.  

No, not Christmas (less than two months away). 

Not Hot Cross Buns likely to be in the stores two days after Christmas. 

Not even Supanova Brisbane the weekend after next (6-87 November, where btw you can find Rendered Realms once again.

It's time to dust of your keyboard, bring out your latest big project, clear you calendar and go for it. It's time for NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask?

NaNoWriMo (pronounced Nan-No-Rye-Mo) stands for National Novel Writing Month. It started as a simple challenge to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words) in the month founded by freelance writer Chris Baty in the San Francisco Bay Area in July 1999 (the shift to November came in 2000.)

NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organisation that ‘believes your story matters.’

The challenge is to write 50,000 words on a (new) novel during the month of November.

Or you can be a NaNo rebel  - by continuing an existing project or converting hours of say editing or planning or poetry into words (generally one hour = 1000 words). Shh! Don't tell anyone. No, not really. NaNo Rebels are a sanctioned tradition probably since the early days of NaNoWriMo.  

But Wait - Don' You Have to be a bit Crazy to do NaNo?

Hmm, maybe - but then you have to be a bit crazy to be an author.

So, why do NaNoWriMo? 
  • If you've always wanted to write a novel—or have stalled in the process of writing one, NaNo can give you a jump-start. As I said in 2015, NaNo coverts ‘someday’ into ‘today.’
  • Tangible goals and deadlines, for many of us, are good motivators.
  • It gives you an impetus to write daily or at least regularly over  a limited timeframe (30 days).
  • Writing fast without constantly stopping to edit and review helps you get into the ‘flow’, immerses you into the your story world, and allows your creativity to flourish.
  • There will be time after NaNo to edit messy drafts but you can't edit a blank page.
  • The NaNo goal is achievable—1667 words a day (less than two hours of writing for most people)— but it is still challenging enough to stretch you.
  • Even if you don’t manage 50,000 words, every word counts and you will probably write more words than you would have otherwise. 
  • NaNoWriMo provides support through buddies, groups, badges, write-ins, and events
  • If you finish NaNo, there are some nifty, tangible rewards, like discount codes on programs and services useful to authors. 

So you've decided to take the plunge. What next?

The first step- sign-up to Nano (at and set up your project. 

The next step - add buddies (of writers you know) and join a group (CWD has a Quirky Wordsmiths Downunder Group) where you can interact and encourage each other.

The third step - prepare (if you have time). What will you write? Do you need to plan? What about research?

The fourth step - come November 1st, start writing.  Write each day - or write is larger blocks on the weekend or a day off. Work out what suits you and your routine. Make it a date in your diary and write, no excuses. 

The fifth step - remember to record your word count (or convert your hours - for the rebels among us) on your NaNo project page each time you write. Okay, you can backdate numbers if need be - that is, up to midnight 30 November, but remember to do it. 

The sixth step - celebrate your win & collect your goodies

So Now I'm ready to Publish, Yay!

No, no, no. Not quite.  

What you have is a first draft.  

In other words, your newly birthed book baby isn't ready for University quite yet. 

Even NaNoWriMo recognises that the NaNo draft is not ready for publication. It encourages writers to make December the month of the Edit, and discusses the next steps budding authors can take, including the need for editorial services, and offers discounts on writing programs etc.

Have you done NaNoWriMo in the past?  Are you interested in joining us this November? Let us know in the comments below or on the CWD Facebook group.  Look forward to doing NaNo together :) 


  1. I'm ready to go. I haven't sat down to actually write somethinng new in years. I know I'll just be adding to the ever-growing pile of stories that need to be edited, but if nothing else, I've gotta keep my skills my up practicing. So...bring it on.

    1. That's great, Adam. I'm in the same boat - so much editing wait to be done. See you in the cabin next week :)

  2. Thanks for the nudge, Jenny. Can one set a lower word-count, e.g. 30K words to be a Rebel?