NaNoWriMo 101
The Basics of NaNoWriMo

After posting the question in one of my Instagram stories, you decided that you’d love to see a post explaining NaNoWriMo with some of the basics of it! I’ve had so much fun participating in NaNoWriMo since 2013 and it’s definitely been one of the most productive times of the year in terms of writing.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo or (Na)tional (No)vel (Wri)ting (Mo)nth is a 30-day challenge where participants aim to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Statistically, that’s 1,667 words a day! If you’re under the age of 13, you can also join the Young People’s NaNoWriMo where you can set your own word count! On the other hand, Camp NaNoWriMo is where you can set your own word counts, but this is during the months of April and July. For this post, we’ll be focusing a bit more on November’s NaNoWriMo.

More specifically, NaNoWriMo allows you to write 50,000 words of a new project or draft. If you’re working on a current project, then you can still work on it, but you’d be classed as a NaNo Rebel (someone who deviates from the rules), but they are still welcome to join the challenge of 50,000 words! Plus, you can write whatever you want as long as you’ll be interested in it long enough to complete the challenge. Each NaNoWriMo also has a theme which isn’t major but it’s fun to look at the cool graphics that they make this year and 2017 is superpowered noveling which I believe encompasses NaNoWriMo wholly!

NaNoWriMo Participant 2017

NaNoWriMo banner 2017

How do I participate in NaNoWriMo?

Good thing you asked! I can summarise this for you in a few simple and easy steps:

  1. Sign up on the NaNoWriMo website.
  2. Create a new novel for 2017.
  3. Announce that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo to the world on your social medias!
  4. Decide if you’re going to plan or pants your novel!
  5. Plan your novel (if you’re planning) and assemble your survival kit!
  6. Decide how you’re going to write your novel.
  7. Wait for November 1st.
  8. WRITE!

Signing up on the website is an easy process, and the website also shows you how to create your novel! Announcing the novel comes down to you, but personally, I love NaNoWriMo’s Spread the Word page! Planning and Pantsing, you heard me right! You can also be a hybrid of the two, called a Plantser but most NaNo-ers can be sorted into these two categories:

  • Planner

    Someone who plans their novel and by November 1st, they’ll have an outline of sorts complete with a cast of characters and some worldbuilding in place. Planners usually have set outlines, but if their minds change during the writing and their story takes a different turn, their outlines might become obsolete. However, it might feel more comfortable to you to have something set in place and know what direction your novel is going.

  • Pantser

    Someone who will write by the seat of their pants by November 1st, only having the idea of the novel in their head and perhaps only a few cast of characters. They will make everything up as they go along and will create as they write. But, pantsers sometimes run out of creative steam during NaNoWriMo and it also makes it harder when it comes to editing the novel.

Or, you could plan a few bits and pants the rest, hence where Plantser has emerged from! You also saw me mention a Survival Kit, this is usually a box or bag filled with items to aid writers during the difficult yet rewarding time that is NaNoWriMo. It’s a care package filled with items such as;

  • Coffee and/or Tea for that writing energy.
  • Some people prefer Energy Drinks.
  • Medication for cold/flu and headaches.
  • Notepads and pens / Laptop & Charger for writing on the go
  • USBs or External Hard Drives for backing up that novel. **ESSENTIAL**
  • Water **ESSENTIAL**
  • Luxury Foods
  • Reading Material **ALSO PERSONALLY ESSENTIAL**

I find that having a survival kit greatly helps with the writing process as you have already prepared the necessities you will need for the journey ahead. Also, the ones that I have tagged essential are essential. Backing up your novel is something that you should be doing anyway, but it ensures that if in the worst case scenario, your computer crashes and the files are lost, you have a backup ready and waiting. Water to keep the mind hydrated and reading material to ensure you’re always reading something other than your own novel.

Oh also…


Yes, I’m looking at you editors out there. Be shaken by these words. I know you might be saying

be reasonable!

But, how are you possibly going to get a novel of 50,000 words written if you’re worried about the use of an adjective in the first sentence? You need to seal that editor away and write. Worry more about getting the words down than the actual content, that’s what editing after is for! The challenge isn’t to write a spectacularly, it’s to write because let’s face it, all first drafts are utter crap. To quote myself,

We write straw, and then we edit it into gold.

— Joel Rochester

So don’t worry about getting the gold now, write your straw. Write drunk, and edit sober! In this case, you’re drunk for the whole of November.

How do I write my novel?

I’m hoping you’re talking about writing software and not actually how to write one. If you are talking about the latter, there are excellent guides and resources by Kristen Kieffer over at Well-Storied, Faye Kirwin at Writerology, Writer’s Edit have helped tons of writers and also Tomi Adeyemi has some fabulous resources too.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s really up to you on how you would like to write your novel. You can write it on a computer, you can handwrite it, you can even typewrite it up! The many different ways that writers have written their novels over the years has astounded me! Personally, I like typing up my novel as it’s easier to back it up and to edit it later on. There are also many different softwares on a computer to use to type up your novels:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Google Docs
  • Evernote

However, my personal favourite is Scrivener who offer a free trial for NaNoWriMo users during this time! I find that Scrivener has helped my writing journey immensely and it’s a way of having everything you need for your novel in one handy place.

If you’d like to try Scrivener for NaNo 2017, you can find that specific trial software here.

I’m Waiting for November 1st, now what?

This is the prime time to participate in #PrepTober! PrepTober is where in the month of October, many NaNo-ers take this month to plan out their novels, their survival kits and even prepare some writing buddies to write with during the month. It’s a fun time for everyone to get to know each other and also take the time to fully take advantage of the NaNoWriMo forums while they’re active!

I mostly use the forums to talk with people about their novels or query any problems or creative blocks I’m facing in the relevant forum. I think that the NaNo Forums definitely help with solving a few writer’s block moments during the month of November as they’re always writers who are keen to help resolve your issues! It’s also a cool place where graphic designers offer their services to make your novel covers! I’ve had a few covers made for me in the past few years (which you can view here) and they’ve blown me away!

You can also take this time to warn everyone about the upcoming month ahead, and that you might not want to be distracted unless they want death.

Finally, what if I don’t write 50,000 words?

Dorian Dragon Age

Kidding. If you don’t reach the goal during November, that’s absolutely fine because you wrote something. You have still fulfilled the primary objective of NaNoWriMo and that’s to get you to write. It would all be for nothing if you wrote nothing, so even if you don’t win, you still have won.

If you’re wondering what I’m writing for this November, it is entitled The Dream Prince which is a gay Sleeping Beauty Retelling but I’ve reworked a lot of it.

To summarise, a prophecy led to a war between two rival kingdoms that ended up with one of their princes being placed under a sleeping curse that would kill him after eighteen years. However, seventeen years later, the Prince of the other kingdom has discovered this prophecy is wrong and journies across the world to the rival kingdom in order to awake him. However, the other Prince travels through people’s dreams but the curse has begun to chase him across the dreamworld. So will the princes be able to survive long enough so that the one prince can be awoken?

thought it would be standalone but the more I’m planning it, the more of a series it’s becoming. Also, the one prince is black and the other one is Asian with a gender-fluid Maleficent who isn’t the enemy! Oh, my villain is way more wicked. BUT I’M EXCITED. You can also view my other projects and a Pinterest board for The Dream Prince here.

chat with me

Thank you for reading the new post today, friends!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, leave your username in the comments so we can be buddies! Also, talk about what you’re writing this year because I’d love to hear all about your projects.
Also, if you have any further questions about NaNoWriMo, pop them down below too! I’ll try to write another NaNo guide post trying to answer your questions near the end of this month!

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    June 23, 2018 at 9:11 am

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  • thebookprophet

    October 8, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    I'm going to be participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year and I'm terrified but also very excited. I don't think I'd make it if I was a pantser so I'm planning like crazy.

  • Anke

    October 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Do you have any tips about balancing writing with school or work? I want to participate but iam afraid i wont be able to make it due to homework and tests

  • Ms. Victorious

    October 8, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Very well written post! I most certainly enjoyed it! As I had so much fun during Camp NaNo AND I managed to finish the first draft of my YA dark fantasy novel, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, too. I’m Ms. Victorious, obviously, and I’d be happy to have you as my writing buddy. As for what I’m working on... everything is already uploaded on my NaNo profile! See you there! ????

  • abigailsbooks32

    October 8, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I loved this post! I'm not a writer but I found this post very interesting and helpful if ever there is a day where I decide to become a writer because I have thought about it before

  • lyricalreads

    October 7, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    I can't wait to see how your story idea progresses even more!! More like, I can't wait to read The Sleeping Prince when it's published!!????

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Hey friends! I’m Joel, the main writer here at Fictional Fates. I’m a reader and writer who advocates for more diversity in literature.

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