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The NaNoWriMo Phenomenon

November is coming.

The non-writer (or very, very new writer) may only associate this with the imminent holiday season. However, there is another event that happens every November that can simultaneously cause a Christmas-like excitement as you tremble in fear: National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo (participant banner 2015)

NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It sounds like a lot, and if you’re not used to writing daily, or on a regular basis, it is a lot, but it is by no means impossible. 50,000 words spread over 30 days is the equivalent of 1,667 words per day. However, there’s more that goes on for NaNoWriMo than just showing up to write in November (though that is the most important part).

NaNo Participant 2014NaNoWriMo is an international event that is divided into local regions. Those local regions (usually) have coordinators called Municipal Liaisons (or, more commonly, MLs). I am one of those coordinators for my region (Tulsa, Oklahoma), and as such it means I get a peek into some of what makes NaNo happen outside of the actual event in November. Plus I get to be a part of the actual planning and preparation for NaNoWriMo in my little corner of Oklahoma, and it’s an amazing experience.

There are months of preparation that go into this event – especially on the international level. For one thing, the website is wiped and re-coded every year, mainly because of the sheer number of new participants it has to accommodate. It used to be a regular occurrence for the website servers to crash the first week of NaNoWriMo, and the last few days as everyone tried to validate their word counts to ‘win’. Fortunately, though it will still happen, it’s not nearly as frequent as it was.

While each region is largely responsible for deciding how much they want to do (beyond the required minimums from NaNoWriMo) and if they want to acquire any local sponsors, NaNoWriMo itself is constantly working throughout the year both on the actual event, and finding sponsors to maintain the experience. Because, in case you didn’t know, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization.

2013 Winner TshirtIn addition to the November event, NaNoWriMo also created the Young Writer’s Program (a version of NaNoWriMo geared for the classroom that costs nothing for teachers), and Camp NaNoWriMo (a more laid-back version of NaNo) twice during the summer. On the local level, my co-ML and I have been working since early summer to plan our regional events. This may or may not include cackling gleefully over the newest Halloween décor at the local craft store, and choosing how to embellish the Character Graveyard that appears every year in our region.

What is a Character Graveyard, you say? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. We construct it out of floral foam, glued to a board. With, erm, popsicle sticks painted gray for a fence. And marbled paper cut out like gravestones STUCK to other popsicle sticks that participants get to customize and place in the graveyard for every named character they ‘kill’ in their story during NaNoWriMo. We may have a slightly morbid region, but they have a lot of fun with it. It’s interesting to read the names and causes of death at the end of the month!

Character Graveyard

Most importantly, NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to write that book you’ve always thought about, but never made time for. The write-in experience is something you should not miss, especially if you have a region that is active locally. You will make connections and friendships you will never take for granted. And, most importantly, you will find out exactly why you love writing (and, in some cases, perhaps why you don’t, but still write anyway).

NaNoWriMo is coming. The site has just relaunched and you can still sign-up here. Won’t you come find your story this year?

Editor’s Note: Fantasy-Faction is also running a super, secret Facebook group for anyone writing a genre story for this year’s NaNoWriMo. You can learn more at the bottom of this article.



  1. […] Source: The NaNoWriMo Phenomenon | Fantasy-Faction […]

  2. Haven’t done it before, but I’m thinking about doing it this year to help get my next book off the ground. We’ll see…

  3. […] Source: The NaNoWriMo Phenomenon | Fantasy-Faction […]

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