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  • J. J. Hanna

NaNoWriMo is Coming

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Can you smell it? Fall is in the air. The leaves are changing and falling off the trees. The days are shorter. Oh, and writers are beginning to freak out.

That's right. November is almost among us, and with it, the welcoming in of the most stressful month of the year for any writer who attempts it: NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month happens every November, and Camp National Novel Writing Month happens in both April and July.

These months are when the writers freak out.


Because anyone crazy enough to participate will be attempting to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. Why we do this, I have no idea. That's not actually the expected word count for almost any genre (except for romance or middle grade, it would seem). So why do we aim for 50,000 words?

Well, anything between 20k and 49k is a novella. Most publishers won't look at novellas for publication. 50k is the minimum for a novel. And who can resist the potential bragging rights of being a NaNoWriMo winner? Not that you win anything else. Just a discount to some cool writing programs, a free graphic to post on social media, and as previously mentioned, the bragging rights to say you've done it.

But what makes November different than April or July? Why do NaNo (as the kids call it) rather than Camp NaNo?

In November, you have one option: write 50,000 words in one month. That's 1,667 words per day. Which seems doable, until you sit down to write and only manage to crank out five hundred (and that's on a good day).

In Camp NaNo, you can choose to put effort toward editing, writing, or various other things, and it doesn't all have to count as your single project. Plus, rather than only counting words, you can count pages, hours, or whatever else you choose to track your progress.

I'm partial to Camp NaNo. I love it. Do I usually overcommit myself there as well? Yes. But does that stop me from trying to write an entire full length novel in one month? No. The past few summers I have tried and failed to write 65k words in July. But every time I've gotten very close.

So why do I struggle to write 50k in November, when I can write at least 60k in July?


Usually, the beginning of November is a great time to write. I go into it with gusto and fervor and, if I'm lucky, get ahead on my word count. If I can get 2k word days, 3k word days, and 5k word days in that first week of November, I'll likely hit 50k. If not, I usually fail.



That's right. There is an entire day where writing is suddenly impossible. You're with family. You're in a food coma. You can't write because you're either napping or socializing or stuffing your face. Plus, you may be traveling (which cuts into your writing time as well). And then, if you're like my family, it's time to put up the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving, and presto bango you've lost another day.

Before you know it, you've lost all your momentum, you've hit writers block, and November has ended leaving you with 20k more words to write in your project to be considered a "winner." And if you're trying to write well and not for word count, that 20k is nearly impossible to meet in the remaining few days of November.

Even after all that, I keep coming back. I love NaNoWriMo. Even when I fail and have to face the sad reality that I won't get the graphic or the discounts. Even when I don't hit 50k, I come back and try again next year. Because NaNoWriMo makes me write every day or face the consequences of a disapproving graph.

And hey, even if I didn't hit 50k, I may still have written half of a novel.

So. Are you going to try NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it in the past? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? Would you do it again?

Let me hear your thoughts.

Until next time, I'll see you then.


J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.

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