NaNoWri-wha? | An Introduction to National Novel Writing Month

Fall is here and restaurants are putting pumpkin spice in everything. Stores are mobbed with Halloween stuff, and soon all of your friends will start complaining about how early stores are putting out Christmas stuff. For most people this time of year means pies and cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, accompanied by a vague sense of dread about the upcoming gauntlet of family holidays. But for writers, this time of year is significant for another reason. (Not that writers don’t love sweaters and pie and hot chocolate.)

All year I look forward to November, also known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where writers all over the world take up the challenge to write a whole novel (50,000 words) in the span of 30 days.

I talk about NaNoWriMo a lot, at networking events, at friends’ birthday parties, and it’s that scary 50K number that usually gets people’s attention. After the obligatory “Wow, that’s a lot of words!” the most common thing people say to me on the subject of NaNoWriMo is “I could never do that.” The second most common thing is, “Maybe next year.” I’m sorry to go all Shia Labeouf on you, but yeah, you probably can just do it, and last year, you said you would do it this year.

What makes this year special? This year, Katie Li and Jessica Critcher (that’s me) are writing a series of blog posts through the month of October to set you up for success.

  • In this post I’m going to tell you how to make a NaNoWriMo account.
  • Next week, I’m going to share two invaluable online resources for meeting your daily quota of 1,667 words that will prevent you (or rescue you) from falling behind. (Click here to read!)
  • Later in the month, Katie is going to talk about productivity and time management, as well as word sprints and getting over writer’s block.
  • Finally, Katie will discuss self care for writers, as well as the brilliant, supportive, NaNoWriMo community.

And then, snug at home with our Halloween candy as the clock strikes midnight on November first, you, Katie, and I, along with thousands of people around the world, are going to set to work for a month of creative debauchery. No deleting, no quitting, and absolutely no second guessing. We’re going to write whatever depraved nonsense creeps into our heads. And come December, we’ll all have beautiful, terrible, nonsensical first drafts that could someday be very good books.

So why should you trust us anyway? Well, Katie and I have each completed NaNoWriMo (at least?) three times, for a combined total of around 300,000 words, and that’s only counting what we write during the month of November.

I write videogame reviews for Hardcore Droid and feminist musings for Gender Focus. I’m also querying my debut novel, which first came to life many years ago as a NaNoWriMo project.

Katie writes for the Huffington Post and runs a bi-weekly e-zine called The Beautiful Worst. She also wrote and self-published a novel, Somewhere in Between, which you can and should totally read.

While we may not have it all figured out yet, we know one or two things about knocking out a first draft. We would like to share what we know with you. Because writing is hard work, but it’s not impossible.

So let’s get started.


Step 1:

Go to and make a free account.


Step 1A (optional):

Visit Katie’s profile, ktplumtree, and/or mine, FemmeFatale, and click “Add as buddy” so you don’t have to go it alone.


Step 2:

Browse the NaNoWriMo FAQ’s and the NaNo Prep Page to see if any of your questions have already been answered.

Step 3:

When the site officially re-launches for the year on October 5th, go to “My Novels” under the “My NaNoWriMo” tab, and “create” your novel.

my novels

Step 4:

Keep an eye out for the rest of our posts, and hang tight until November. We’ve got write-ins, both online and in person, Twitter chats, and all kinds of good stuff coming.

You can do it. This is going to be fun, we promise.

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