The Ups and Downs of National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo)

Duane Gundrum
3 min readNov 3, 2021

In case you haven’t heard, November 1st was the start of what those of us in the writing community call Nanowrimo, which is basically a month set aside for people to write a 50,000 word manuscript and then call it a day…or a month. It’s based on the average size of a novel (about 200 pages) and the realization that they usually clock in at about 50,000 words. Now, you could write the beginning of a very long novel, but if you participate in Nanowrimo, the goal is to at least get those 200 pages completed. Anything after that is just gravy.

Most people sign onto Nanowrimo on the first of the month, go a few days (some even a few weeks) and then they give up. And every time you mention the event, they’ll either pretend to know nothing about it, or they’ll mention how silly it is. A few, if brave enough, will tell you they attempted it and failed.

Most people aren’t capable of owning up to the fact that writing a novel is hard and that most people are incapable of holding enough focus to write an entire novel-length manuscript. But most people who have ever written anything tend to think they are completely capable of writing a novel. At least until they attempt it.

I’ve been participating in Nanowrimo every year for about as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure I had written 12 or 13 novels before I ever heard of it, but once I did hear about, I decided that it might be interesting to participate in, at least for the reason that it would motivate me to get a novel started. So, often, I waited all the way from August until November before starting any new projects. Usually, I would spend that time outlining the future project and then come November 1st, I’d be writing like the wind.

But as it’s only November 3rd as of my writing this today, I thought I would at least point this activity out to people in case they wanted to participate themselves. There’s no charge to participate (other than the sweat and tears you will be producing with your manuscript), and to start, all you have to do is visit their web site at nanowrimo.org. You could also just sit down and start writing a novel without registering it on nanowrimo.org, but where’s the fun in that?

So, if you decide to partake in this activity, drop me a note (or make a comment) and let me know what you’re project is about. I’m usually highly active during this period discussing projects with people on the main site (and in the forums for my local area), but I love to hear what other people are doing.

And I love to hear when someone has succeeded and finished the goal. Keep me informed.

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Duane Gundrum

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.