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NaNo who?

by Claire Buss

November means only one thing in the writing community, and it’s not Thanksgiving – it’s NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and in their own words is both “a website, a community and an ambitious writing challenge“. Every year writers sign up to start writing a new novel but continuing a WIP (work in progress) is against the rules.


The Website is where you can create a profile, set the details of your writing project and connect with other writers. They also have a library of writing resources to help you plan your next novel.

The Community

NaNo sets up communities in your area that organise real-life get togethers, online writing sprints and continual motivation and support. You connect with other writers by sending buddy requests and then you can chat with them online about your writing project.

The Writing Challenge

The aim of NaNo is to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. Yep, one month – one novel. And it can be done with plenty of writing dedication and some excellent planning. All you have to do is write an average of 1,667 words every day to reach your goal by the end of November. Once you hit the 50,000 word mark, you upload your manuscript to the NaNo website and verify your wordcount. There are no prizes per se but you do get a winners certificate and logo you can use on your website and social media sites.

NaNoWriMo also hosts several camps throughout the year called Camp NaNo where you can host your own cabin and encourage a group of writer friends on their writing endeavours. 

Why should I do NaNoWriMo?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a novel but have never managed to find the time or perhaps you’ve never managed to finish a project before. Maybe you’re frustrated at how long it usually takes to write a novel or perhaps you’re just up for a challenge!

NaNo teaches you:

  • how to turn your inner editor off, get your butt in that chair and keep writing!
  • how to find time and commitment to write your novel
  • how to improve your writing craft because you’re writing so fast
  • how to write with a community
  • how to learn from others who are all going through the same thing at the same time.


So how exactly do you write 1,667 words every day for a month? There are several schools of thought. Some writers sit down religiously every day and write until they hit that daily target. Others flit in and out through the day writing a couple of hundred words here and there.

Planners have spent October meticulously working on a detailed novel plan, outlining every small detail, ready to write throughout November. Pantsers have a great idea in their heads so they’ll spend the month discovery writing and finding out what happens next as they go along.

The Reedsy blog has a great post with 41 tips on how to win NaNoWriMo, check it out here:

I stole a few to make my top ten list:

  1. You have to love what you’re writing otherwise you’ll never commit to the word count
  2. Even if you’re a pantser without a writing plan, you need to know your characters inside and out
  3. Stick to your writing rules – time of day and environment needs to be consistent and something that works for you
  5. Nobody else needs to read your NaNo project, think of it as your first draft – an opportunity to just get the words down
  6. Avoid clunky info dumps – they’ll be horrid to edit after NaNo
  7. Explore dynamic dialogue
  8. If you get stuck just write in caps what is meant to happen and then move on to the next chapter, you can always come back
  9. Be kind to yourself if you can’t write – it is not the end of the world if you miss your word count one day, for a few days – that’s what writing sprints are for
  10. Share your progress across your social media and have friends, family & fans rooting for you #NaNoWriMo2019


Can it really be done?

Yes, absolutely. Hundreds of writers all over the world successfully complete NaNoWriMo and I myself wrote the first drafts for my humorous fantasy The Rose Thief and books two and three in my hopeful dystopian series, The Gaia Project and The Gaia Solution.

I will be taking part this year, working on a new (of course) book series that I’ve had a great idea for. I’ve even managed to do a little pre-planning which is unheard of for a dedicated pantser like me.

If you’d like to connect on the NaNo website and become my buddy, just search for Grasshopper2407 and send me a request. I look forward to hearing about your writing challenge.

Claire Buss is an author, poet, mum, Pen to Print alumni and dedicated pantser. Follow her on Twitter @grasshopper2407 and check out her books at

Every November, writers all over the world sign up for NaNoWriMo and begin planning the next step in their writing journey.