Last updated on January 26th, 2019 at 04:09 am

Have you ever thought about writing a story? I think most, if not all, of us have at some point in our lives. It’s that sudden moment when you feel that spark of inspiration and think, “Now that would be a great book!” The thing that holds us back is our own lives. We are too busy with work or school or family to have time to sit down and write. Writing does not give you cash instantly, and often our ideas aren’t the most marketable. Motivation goes downhill, and nothing gets done. But what if I told you that you could write a fiction novel in 30 days with the support of a whole community?

Meet NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, an annual competition that challenges writers to work creatively in order to complete a 50,000 word novel from November 1st to November 30th.

NaNoWriMo first began in July 1999 when a group of 21 people in the San Francisco Bay area decided that they were going finish a novel by August 1st. According to their website (www.NaNoWriMo.org), they believed that they would have an easier time getting dates as novelists. Nevertheless, the challenge was a success and many of the writers found that although their end product wasn’t their very best work, it certainly wasn’t their worst. Best of all, they reported that the process of writing with a goal, as well as with time-constraints, was actually fun!

The next year, they had their website up and running for their second round. They moved their month block to November in order to take advantage of the bad weather. One hundred and forty individuals participated, thanks to forwarded emails, and even those from outside of the United States showed interest.

In 2011, 256,618 writers participated in National Novel Writing Month in November, 36,843 of whom reached the goal of 50,000 words.

Anyone can join NaNoWriMo for the month of November. Age is irrelevant. Actually, it has been found that writers 50 and over are more likely to finish their 50,000 words by the end date. All genres are welcome and if you consider your work a novel, so do they! Even if you don’t finish, you still have the base of a story that you can continue or revise to your heart’s content after the month is over. Over 90 NaNoWriMo novelists have been published by major companies.

Along with writing, their website also hosts a forum where participants can talk about their plot, characters, titles or subjects totally unrelated to their stories. Since everyone’s goal is to reach 50K, other members are working with you and are very supportive.

If you want to try NaNoWriMo, all you have to do is visit www.NaNoWriMo.org and sign up. You write your story wherever you choose (in a word processor, in a notebook, or even on a typewriter!) and update your word count on the website as you write. It’s that simple. The only rules are that you cannot type the same word 50,000 times, and you cannot use any prose that has been written before November 1st (this does not include outlines, character sketches or other preparations, which are encouraged!).

This is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, even though I’ve known about it since 2005. I’ve always wanted to write a full-length novel of a story that I am proud to tell and this is my time! It could be yours too! Follow my writing journey all through the months of October and November on Twitter (@loveoftheword_) or add me as a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo.org (loveoftheword). Let me know if you are taking the leap into novel writing as well!

image: Mike Shea (Creative Commons – BY-NC)