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National Novel Writing Month begins today

National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short—begins today. How's that novel you've been working on?


Lauren Rae Orsini

Internet Culture

Posted on Nov 1, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 1:45 am CDT

Writing a novel used to be a solitary task. But if you start writing this month, you won’t be alone.

Today marks the starting line for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, in which 200,000 people attempt to write a novel in 30 days. Launched with just 19 participants in 1999, the program has grown into a bustling community.

In order to get to the finish line, participants need to undergo a 50,000 word writing marathon. Just like with a real marathon, it helps to have supporters on the sidelines.

As a result, signing up for NaNoWriMo is almost like joining a social network. You can update your profile, friend other writers and ask for help in the forums. Need a push? @NaNoWriMo tweets encouragement to followers who request it.

For even more guidance, look no further than the NaNoWriMo weekly pep talks, where professional writers like Dave Eggers and Meg Cabot urge you to do your best.

But for most novelists, the most valuable support comes from one another. Jennifer Johnson, a NaNoWriMo participant since 2006, said half the experience comes from networking with other writers.

“The community is so supportive – they can help you with plot problems, compete with you in 10-minute increments, or just cheer you on,” she said.

Johnson said her NaNoWriMo buddylist “exploded” yesterday with new friends who are also writing novels this year. Though she’s only finished the ordeal once, she has high hopes.

“This year, I’ve been chatting with my buddies on Twitter,” she said. “I think that network will really help to pull me through what can sometimes be an ordeal.”

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*First Published: Nov 1, 2011, 3:23 pm CDT