November 2, 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareEvery October 31st after the trick-or-treaters have stopped knocking or are in bed, after we’ve stuffed our faces with all the leftover (or stolen) candy, there’s another event about to kick off.


I’m sure some of you are squinting and thinking, “What?”

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a non-profit, yearly inspirational push to get people writing. Way back in 1999 an inspired person named Chris Baty, the founding father of NaNo. There were around twenty participants who wrote for everything they had, with no real goals or word counts in mind. They just wanted to write. Then a magical thing happened, more people wanted to be involved. People set goals, and over time the hallmark 50,000 words in a month goal was established. Now, seventeen years later, NaNo has become a world-wide phenomenon. It touches almost every country and produces thousands of books a year.

But…what is it?

In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is taking the solitary act of writing a book and making it social. By challenging people to come out to write-in’s and attend writing events, authors are no longer secluded in their caves, tapping away at keyboards that have seen better days.

A participant’s experience is unique person to person. Some sign up on the website and just log their daily word counts with the ultimate goal of getting their winner’s badge. Others attend things called write-in’s at coffee shops, restaurants, stranger’s homes and plug in to write as much as they can during the event. Many regions even opt to do all night writing events. That makes me tired just thinking about it! (Says the girl who just went to one…)

YWPBut did you know NaNo also raises money to fund literacy programs? Their Young Writer’s Program is a tool that goes into schools to teach and foster the love of books and writings with today’s youth. Each year, NaNoWriMo’s goal to spread the power of words to more people in more countries.

In my experience, NaNo is more than an inspirational challenge to push people out of their comfort zone. It’s an opportunity to connect people, make friends, and write that book.

While the standard goal is to write 50,000 words, there are also people called NaNoRebels. These people might set a higher word goal, or they might not write on a new book, they might keep writing on an old one, or they might chose to write four short stories. That’s the wonderful thing about NaNo: no one cares what you do, so long as you write. Even if it is just one word. That one word still counts.

There’s a magic about NaNo that can’t be bottled or captured. As a professional writer, I still get caught up in it every year. Some more than others. It’s not always about writing the book or reaching 50,000 words, sometimes it’s as simple as being understood. NaNo is an event for the creatively inclined to band together around an idea, an idea that they can write a book and it puts the combined power of other participants cheering each other on to cross the finish line to create a unique experience.

For more information on how to sign up, please visit NaNoWriMo: How It Works page for step by step instructions for setting up your profile, creating a novel and diving into the forums.

Come write with us!

Sidney Bristol

About the Author

Sidney Bristol

It can never be said that NYT & USA Today Bestselling author Sidney Bristol has had a ‘normal’ life. She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor-home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and fostering cats.

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