How NaNoWriMo Can Explode Your Writing Career – Yes, Really!

National Novel Writing Month, shortened to the kitschy NaNoWriMo (nan-no-RYE-moe), is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that challenges writers to pen a whopping 50,000 words in the month of November. Though it started in 1999 with fewer than two dozen participants, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 speed-writers tackled the challenge in 2010.

NaNoWriMo can kick-start a newbie’s writing efforts, or helped experienced authors loosen up and try freestyle for a while. Many NaNoWriMo participants have even gone on to have their projects published! At the very least, the project is a great writing exercise – and an chance to promote yourself as an author or your future book. In the true spirit of this virtual writing challenge, use the Web to turn NaNoWriMo into a prime marketing opportunity.

  • Start by crowing about your plans. If you don’t already have one, build a blog page on WordPress or another free blog site. Give readers daily reports on what work you’re doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Perhaps you’re reading Moby Dick for inspiration, attended writers’ conference, or you’ve bought a new thesaurus. Bring your audience along with you and get them excited about your adventure. Duplicate your efforts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and any other social media platform you wish.
  • Solicit feedback. Engage your readers in the process by sharing potential plot points and asking them for their ideas. People love the be involved in the creative process, and you may be surprised what scintillating characters and plot twists could spin out of these virtual brainstorming sessions.
  • Poll your potential audience. Ask your friends and readers to answer simple, multiple-choice questions: Should my protagonist be male or female? Which name do you prefer for the main character? Should the hero get the girl – yes or no? It’s a quick way to get people invested in your success and to gather a general consensus when you’re not sure which path to take.
  • Choose cover art. This could be as simple as changing your Facebook photo for the duration of the NaNoWriMo challenge or as involved as designing a prospective book cover. The idea is to associate an image with your project that will set a tone, create an image, inspire you and engage your readers.

Once November 1 rolls around – and, trust me, it will sneak right up on you – it’s time to hunker down for real. To successfully complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, you’ll have to write consistently most days from November 1 through November 30. You’ll need to average 1,667 words per day to meet the 50K quota, more if you take any days off. That means at least a couple solid hours of writing most days. (And leave a little extra writing time to update your blog or Twitter followers and post progress reports on Facebook.) The trick is not to get caught up in achieving perfection in a few short weeks; the goal is a lot of words in a short time, so focus on quantity in November — you can sort out the quality later.

I highly recommend joining a regional group so you can communicate with other participants, listen to ideas, share writing tips and gather suggestions from others. Many past NaNoWriMo authors have valuable advice that can help you make the most of the NaNoWriMo experience.

Now get writing!

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

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