National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Now, each year on Nov 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists.
October & November 2021 Events
NaNoWriMo Fiction Writing Techniques Virtual
Mon, Oct 11, 6:30-8:30pm
Learn fiction writing techniques from other writers to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Register for Zoom link. Learn and share strategies for creating believable characters in your novel using character sheets. Plan compelling plots and scenes using outlining. Discuss techniques with other fiction writers. Get ready for National Novel Writing Month by signing up at nanowrimo.org and joining the Topeka, Kansas region.
How to Write a Novel in 30 Days Virtual NaNoWriMo KickOff
Mon, Oct 25, 6:30-8:30pm
Get fun and helpful advice from former participants, plus official stickers from NaNoWriMo headquarters and other inspiring goodies that will power you through the month. Register for Zoom link. Sign up at nanowrimo.org and join the Topeka region.
NaNoWriMo Come Write In – Virtual
Sun, Nov 7, 1-3pm
Write your novel with other fiction writers. We will meet on Zoom and write our novels with timed word sprints, challenges, contests and more! Register for Zoom link.
NaNoWriMo Come Write In – Virtual
Sun, Nov 14, 1-3pm
Write your novel with other fiction writers as part of National Novel Writing Month. Register for Zoom link. We will meet on Zoom and write our novels with timed word sprints, challenges, contests and more!
Get involved in Topeka
The Topeka 2021 events are all virtual and available on the Topeka NaNoWriMo calendar. As a Come Write In location, the library partners with local Municipal Liaisons with nanowrimo.org to organize fiction writing events each fall. Additional events are community sponsored events within the local writing community. Find regional forums and updates at the Topeka region of the official National Novel Writing Month website.
Novel Writing Resources
What kind of book would you enjoy writing?
I encourage people to follow Chris Baty’s advice from No Plot, No Problem to consider what kind of book they would enjoy writing using the The Two Magna Cartas of Novel Writing which is basically a way to help you write the kind of book you would like to read.
How will you track your progress?
Figuring out if you are on track to write 50,000 words in 30 days is a daily journey toward a big goal. Use the 30 days hath November handout with calendar, daily word count goal and progress bar ready for updating, coloring and doodling.
- 50K in 30 days chart and calendar tracking handout for 2021 (1 page PDF)
- 50K in 30 days chart and calendar tracking handout for 2022 (1 page PDF)
What if you run out of things to write about?
Try adding something unexpected that adds an element of interest to your plot and increases your word count. Here are a dozen examples of “plot twists” to add to your novel if you are stuck:
- A major character is suddenly put in an unexpected and dangerous situation.
- A random theft occurs.
- Your main character attends a large gathering of complete strangers.
- A practical joke goes horribly wrong.
- A valued friend turns out to have a hidden agenda.
- A major character sees something they shouldn’t have.
- An illness threatens to expose an old secret
- A message arrives; unfortunately it was delivered to the wrong person.
- Your main means of transport breaks down somehow
- A gift turns out to have hidden strings.
- An unexpected kiss between the unlikeliest of characters.
- A death causes all the characters to re-evaluate their purpose in life.
How can you write so much so quickly?
You can “Lock Up Your Internal Editor!” A tongue-in-cheek solemn annual tradition at the Topeka Kickoff event is the ceremonial locking-up of each writers’ internal editor. With a blank index card and an envelope, you too can participate. Here’s what to do:
- Imagine that voice in your head that says things like “Your writing is stale. Rewrite this passage right now.” and “Look at all those typos. Better stop and proofread.” and “That’s not historically accurate; you should spend the afternoon researching.” That’s your internal editor. Most of the year, everyone is very happy that your internal editor is there to help you improve your writing to make it clear, concise, inspiring and awesome. But not in November.
- Draw a picture, sketch a representation or write a brief description of your internal editor on the blank card. Then politely say goodbye, and symbolically lock up your internal editor and seal the envelope. For the month of November, you want to write, create, imagine, let the words flow on to the page without hesitation. Not every word you write will be worth saving later, but every word you write in November will get you one word closer to reaching the 50,000 word finish line.
- If you are a perfectionist, or if you can’t be trusted, give your internal editor to a friend to hold for you until December 1. You can open your envelope and release your internal editor once you hit 50,000 words.