Welcome to NaNoWriMo!
High-five! You’ve finished the sign-up process, and we’re so excited to write alongside you this November. This page is part welcome wagon, part instructional manual, and part pep talk. (After you read everything, you’ll be able to reference it at any time by clicking on the “Welcome” menu item under My NaNoWriMo.)
Now that you are fully registered on the site, you’ll have the opportunity to complete your Author Profile and get to know other participants in the NaNoWriMo forums. To fill out your author profile, just click the “Edit Author Info” link and “Edit Novel Info” links from the My NaNoWriMo page. You upload your photo from the “Edit User Settings” link. (Remember to scroll down and hit “Submit” to save your changes!)
On November 1, we’ll unlock the word-count area of your author profile, so you can post your escalating word count, view your personal stats, and share an excerpt of your work-in-progress with friends and fans.
When you registered for your account, you had the opportunity to join a NaNoWriMo region. Under My NaNoWriMo in My Regions, you can join as many NaNoWriMo regions as you like, and then choose one region to make your Home Region. Many towns have Municipal Liaisons (MLs) to organize NaNo write-ins and get-togethers in October and November. By joining a region, you will be automatically added to the regional list for updates about local events. Every region has a special message board called a Regional Lounge that becomes visible to affiliates of that region on the Forums page.
Picking a Home Region will add your word count to your region’s cumulative tally, allowing you to do your part in challenging NaNoWriMo authors in rival cities and towns. It also designates any donation you make by check or through our online store to your regional donation totals. (Be sure to include your site username when donating, though! That is the only way to attribute your contribution to your Home Region!)
Tips to Get You From 0 to 50K
Before you head off to train those typing fingers, we wanted to offer a few bits of advice. You’ll find many great tips in the forums, and we’ll be sending pep talks directly to your NaNoMail (your on-site inbox) during November. But for now, here’s a quick overview of the three-and-a-half things we wish we had known for our first NaNoWriMo:
1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.
2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.
3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.
And we’re talking the good kind of yodeling here.
Did You Know…
• We’ve partnered with libraries and independent bookstores around the world who welcome our participants into their branches and stores every November as part of a community building initiative called Come Write In. Visit the Come Write In pages under NaNo Near You to find the closest novel-loving partner in your neighborhood!
• NaNoWriMo offers a kid-and teen-focused version of the month-long noveling challenge called the Young Writers Program. Over 2,000 classrooms and 50,000 young writers participate annually! Learn more at ywp.nanowrimo.org.
• If you still have questions about NaNoWriMo’s past and how it works, check out the About page, as well as the Media Kit + Press Clips. Fun facts, long-winded histories, and a decade’s worth of stats abound! Should you have a question or technical difficulty, you can visit the Help section, located in the upper right hand corner of any page, to guide you toward a solution.
Meet the People Behind the Program
NaNoWriMo is run a tiny team of eight novel-loving souls at the Office of Letters and Light (OLL), a grassroots nonprofit, and is funded almost entirely by participant donations–participants like you! OLL’s programs serve over 300,000 participants around the world, helping kids, teens, and adults realize their creative potential. If you get something out of NaNoWriMo, we ask that you come by our secure online Donation Station and Store and make a small donation to help keep the program going strong. Even $10 makes a world of difference!
• Like a marathon, you too can get sponsored in your noveling pursuits. Family and friends can contribute on your behalf, and you’ll receive an array of writerly treats for your fundraising efforts! Just visit the Get Sponsored menu item under Donations/Store to set up your sponsorship page.
• Get to know the staff and OLL’s programs even better through our regular entries on the OLL Blog.
• Watch the video below to learn even more about the Office of Letters and Light and its impact online and in communities and classrooms around the world.
With great well wishes on the noveling month ahead,
The NaNoWriMo Team
Lindsey, Chris, Grant, Sarah, Tavia, Tim, Heather, Dan, and Jezra