rita ackerman

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National Novel Writer’s Month


Spend time with any group of writers this time of year and you are sure to hear “NaNoWriMo” mentioned at least once. Some of the speakers will be cursing the very thought and others will be filled with excitement about this phenomenon.

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writer’s Month. Every year about this time thousands of writers around the world join an Internet frenzy to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days.

Think that’s too short or too fast? A number of Wrimo’s have gone on to publishing success. Two of my favorites are Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

NaNoWriMo started in 1999 when a group of San Francisco Bay area writers decided to challenge themselves to write as freely and quickly as possible.

Since then they have developed a Web site where Wrimos sign up to be a part of the frenzy. There they can find pep talks, forums on all genres and writing questions imaginable. There are municipal liaisons who plan pre-NaNo parties and write-ins throughout the month. There is also “Thank God it’s over party.”

Chris Baty, the head founder has written books on how to prepare and endure the 50,000 word goal. No Plot? No Problem? is a fun and helpful book for all writers who want to get the job done.


I’ve done NaNoWriMo off-and-on over the years. I haven’t gone back and edited or tried to get any of the novels published. I may participate this year.

I’m sure you are asking “Why bother?”

I have many reasons for doing this:

It frees up my writing and quiets that inner critic.

It gets me excited about writing every single day.

I enjoy the write-ins. Making new friends and the energy is amazing. I learn a lot from fellow WriMos.

Although I don’t consider myself a novelist (I write historical non-fiction) it is fun to try, and maybe one day I will decide to go on with a story. In the meantime, I enjoy the free and open-minded spirit that NaNo ignites.

Here’s where to sign up. I suggest every writer try it at least once. What do you have to lose?




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