Sunday, 11 October 2015

What is Nano?

So I opened up my emails and found an nanowrimo email sitting in my inbox, so I thought I would devote the next three weekend posts to taking about nanowrimo, And the first post will be on what is nano? You will probably have heard the word thrown around if you visit the online writing websites but maybe unsure of what it actually what it means.

In simple terms –

Na – national

No – novel

Wri – writing

Mo – month

It basically means to write a novel in a month, which breaks down to 50,000 words in 30 days (as November is the chosen nano month). 50,000 word was chosen as that is the size of a small novel even if most novels tend to come in around twice that length. Nanowrimo participants are free to start at one minute past midnight on the 1st November and have to stop at one minute to midnight on the 30th November. That works out at hitting 1667 words a day for the first 29 days and 1657 words on day number 30.

Taking Part

To take part in nano, the only thing that you need to do is sign up to their website: which will help track your progress and give you tips and hints to help keep motivated and help you keep that word count growing – because yes, nano is about the word count. The other catch to Nanowrimo is that the story you write has to be a completely new one. This means that other than notes and pre-book plans, plots etc that no words have been written on the novel and you really are starting fresh on the 1st November.


There are no official prizes for ‘winning’ nanowrimo, although those that complete the task of 50,000 words can submit them to the website for verification after the 25th November and receive a certificate. The real prize to nanowrimo is the sense of achievement, the knowledge that you can keep writing and meet a target, and the first draft or the first 50,000 words towards a first draft of your novel. The reason I say first draft is, no book should ever be published either traditionally or independently without going through draft, not least for the factor that bound to be mistakes when you are churning the words out that fast.


Nanowrimo was started by freelance writer Chris Baty back in July 1999 with 21 participants taking part, all located in the San Francisco Bay area (California, USA). In 2000, nanowrimo was moved from July to November. This was said to have been done "to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather."
In 2000, the nanowrimo website was also launched for the first time. This website was designed by a friend of Chris Baty. 140 participants signed up in November 2000, including several from other countries (than the USA). In addition to the website, Baty started a Yahoo! Group allowing participant to socialise. After a number of questions, nanowrimo’s ground rules were created. Namely (a) the novel must be new (b) the novel cannot be co-authored, and (c) the novel must be submitted in time to be verified. Of the 140 participants, 29 completed the challenge.
In 2001 that number of 140 participants grew to 5,000 and in the end 700 completed their nanowrimo novel. Nanowrimo has continued to grow strongly every year, and by 2013 over 400,000 people participated (in 2010 it was calculated that 2,872,682,109 words were written.)


One of the main reasons (other than the challenge and getting a first draft ready) that people sign up for nano is because of the community support.  The website has official forums which offer advice, information, criticism, support, and an opportunity for "collective procrastination." The forums are available from the beginning of October, when signups for the year begin, until late September, when they are archived and the database is wiped in preparation for the next year.
Most areas/regions/cities will also have in person events. They are actively encouraged to coordinate at least two kinds of meet-ups; a kickoff party, and a "Thank God It's Over" party. Other events are also scheduled, including weekend meet-ups or overnight write-ins.

Published Nanowrimo Stories

So since 2006, there has been roughly 100 NaNoWriMo novels have been published (after going through later edits). These books have been published traditionally, through small presses and independent/self-published.

Some notable titles that started life as nanowrimo novels are:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, published by Doubleday
Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, published by Delacorte Press
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, published by St. Martin's Press
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, published by Dutton Juvenile
The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, published by Del Rey Books
The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi, published by HarperTeen

No comments: