Lisa Simpson sits at her computer with a cup of tea ready to write on 'The Simpsons.'

Get Ready to Actually Write Your Novel This November as NaNoWriMo Turns 25

I'm feeling lucky.

It may be shocking, but NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. If you haven’t started planning, now is the time. National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, takes place every November. This year, the non-profit group turns 25, so this is the year we are all going to participate, right? I can’t tell you how many times I have told myself, “I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this time!” and then failed miserably. Sometimes, I get a few days in and crash. Other times, I don’t even get logged into the portal. But it’s a special year. Something about it being a 25th anniversary makes me feel lucky.

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The idea is to write a 50,000-word novel over the thirty days of November. Then, by December 1, you would ideally have a (partial) first draft of a novel. If the 50k word goal feels a little intimidating, you can break it down to a daily quantity that seems more feasible. To hit the 50k goal, you would need to write about 1,667 words per day. Sounds easy enough, right? Every day, you just log in to the NaNoWriMo website portal and upload your daily words. Or you could write it in the portal if you enjoy gambling with your creativity. They keep track of your work so you can see if you are heading in the right direction.

There may be times you feel stuck or unmotivated, but NaNoWriMo tries to create a community to ensure writers stay motivated. Many cities have local NaNoWriMo meet-ups so you can gather and work on your novel. It might be helpful to have a story in mind and an outline prepped. That way, you aren’t heading into NaNoWriMo recklessly since you are supposed to begin a fresh project. I am not an outline person, so for me, this is an especially painful part of the process.

Even if the process might be painful or daunting, just keep in mind you will have a novel at the end of 30 days. One key thing to remember is that you are going for quantity, not quality. Just get it out on the page and fix it later. Many authors who have written during NaNoWriMo ended up publishing their works. One of the most well-known examples is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which later became a movie. I keep telling myself if I only put the time in, that could be me. So it all starts now, a few weeks out from NaNoWriMo. Good luck to you on your writing adventures. Hopefully, we’ll see each other on the other side.

(featured image: 20th Television)


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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.