How to Write a Novel in 30 Days. Seriously.

Have you ever wanted to write a novel?

You aren’t alone. Several hundred Topekans are gearing up to write fiction this November, and you can join them.

no plot no problemNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. Learn more about how it works.

“NaNoWriMo is an unbeatable way to write the first draft of a novel because it’s such a powerful antidote to that horrible foe of creativity: self-doubt,” said Grant Faulkner, Executive Director. “NaNoWriMo is a rollicking conversation about all aspects of writing, and an invitation to dare to do what seems impossible. As many NaNoWriMo writers have discovered, the best way to learn to write a novel is by simply plunging in to write a novel.”

More than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder

From the website, you can track your progress, get pep talks and support and meet fellow writers online. You can donate and buy merchandise, or you can participate entirely for free.

Nanowrimo offers online forums for the Kansas :: Topeka region and local writers also have a Facebook group for Topeka Wrimos.

“I see the local writers pulling together to support each other in reaching their word counts and completing their novels,” said Lissa Staley, a librarian who has been encouraging local fiction writers during November writing events for the past ten years. “We create an environment where people feel free to experiment, invent, create and write stories and characters when normally they might not push themselves to continue when they get stuck. The more people who are writing, the more fun and more success we all enjoy.”

Here in Topeka, the Library supports writers by hosting Kick Off Events, and Write-Ins. Locally, writers meet for Caffeinate and Chat events, and hold a Thank God It’s Over party in early December to celebrate complete their novels and surviving their month of frantic writing. Events include:

  • KICKOFF: How to Write a Novel in 30 Days
    This is the big event. Fun and helpful advice from former participants, plus official swag (stickers) from NaNo headquarters and other inspiring goodies to get you through the month.
    6:30-8:30 pm, Monday, October 28, Marvin Auditorium
  • Come Write In: NaNoWriMo Write-In  
    NaNoWriMo participants meet to add scenes, chapters and characters to their stories, compete in word wars and further their plots. Bring laptops for a creative and frantic writing session to help boost word counts.
    1:00-5:00 pm, Sundays, November 3, 10, 17, Menninger Room 206
  • Additional local events are announced on the Kansas :: Topeka regional forum.

If you can’t attend one of the events, the library’s NaNoWriMo handouts and other encouragement are available to download. Or contact Lissa Staley at for more information.

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.