It was 1999 and Chris Baty was going through the incredibly relatable “quarter-life crisis.” Like most, he desperately wanted to do something new and different with his life, and immediately recalled his love of novels growing up and wondered if he could write a novel without being a “novelist.”
“I had always kind of thought that novels were written by novelists. That novelists were this superhuman species of person who had a different brain from the rest of us and were born with the ability to type,” said Baty in a 2013 interview with the American Writers & Artists Institute. “And so when I was trying to come up with something that would be my biggest challenge.”
Writing a novel was his biggest challenge, so he created NaNoWriMo, a free, nonprofit program that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.
NaNoWriMo is here, are you ready to start writing?
If you, like Baty, have ever been inspired to take a crack at writing your own novel, why not take part in the NaNoWriMo challenge?
It may seem intimidating to take a crack at a 50,000 word novel, especially because writing can be lonely and isolating, but anyone can do it with a little help. Though the movement started with a small group of Baty’s friends, the NaNoWriMo website has grown exponentially, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.
There are plenty of messenger boards and social media groups created by a community of writers to support one another throughout the challenge. Even this early into the challenge there are support groups made up of writers looking to inspire and support one another on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, so you’ll never be alone in the process!
To find these groups, join a region in your area to be connected. BookClub is based out of Salt Lake City, and after a quick look at the region, we were connected with a group of locals participating in the challenge. They have a kick-off party planned and a series of “Write-Ins,” which are designed to help writers set aside time for writing, complete with writing prompts, quiet time to write, and a chance to chat with your fellow “Wrimos.”
“I had always kind of thought that novels were written by novelists. That novelists were this superhuman species of person who had a different brain from the rest of us and were born with the ability to type. And so when I was trying to come up with something that would be my biggest challenge.” - Chris Baty, founder, NaNoWriMo
Nicole Aronis, a Wrimo, has been participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge since 2012 and describes the month-long challenge as an excellent opportunity to get out of writing doldrums, “I like to go when I need to sprint out some words,” also adding that local Municipal Liaisons (or MLs) are a great resource when it comes to completing the project. “My local region’s MLs are great about making the write-ins exciting for those who go all-in and casual for those there for company.”
Ky Buohl, another participant, decided on a whim to join last year as an opportunity to release while writing his dissertation. This year during NaNoWriMo, he’s preparing to write a spin-off of the Prince and the Pauper. “I’ve done a much more detailed outline during this Preptober. I have about a six-thousand-word outline, full character descriptions, and a full magic system fleshed out. I’m just itching to go this year!”
Aronis also expressed her eagerness to start writing and shared a little bit of her writing process with me: “I usually start with the character and what makes them a unique protagonist. I usually just let this idea grow organically for a few days or weeks before starting a formal outline. Once I have a unique character, I usually come up with the inciting incident or what the first chapter looks like, then go straight to the climax and work my way backwards to get all the backstory. Then right before November, I pull the full outline together.”
So how does one prepare to take on an endeavor such as writing 50,000 words in a month? Let’s break it down.
First, go to https://nanowrimo.org/ and create an account.
Next, Announce Your Project by giving it a name. The project will default to “Prepping,” and you can change the status of your project anytime you’re ready to move onto the next stage.
Once you’ve registered on the website, the founders suggest you prepare for the event by utilizing their NaNo Prep resources, including a six-week course guide to get you ready to take on the endeavor. The guide is divided into six different sections with prompts to get you inspired:
- Develop a Story Idea You’re Passionate About
- Create Complex, Believable Characters
- Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline
- Build a Strong World for Your Characters
- Organize Your Life to Support Your Writing Goals
- Find, Schedule, and Manage Your Time
After you’ve prepared your outline (or not, if you just want to wing it), writers can begin to log their word count each day on the website: 1,667 words per day to reach the goal.
Happy National Novel Writing Month, and best of luck to the aspiring authors taking on this challenge. We are rooting for you, and who knows…you may write the next bestseller!