National Novel Writing Month is a writing challenge, word tracker, and writing community all in one. While there are no alternatives to NaNoWriMo that encompass all three, I’ve put together a list of websites and ideas to help you write more.
NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for everyone, whether because you simply don’t have to time or you’re not writing a novel. These alternatives will help you meet whatever writing goal you want to set for yourself.
Never heard of NaNoWriMo? Check out everything you need to know about NaNoWriMo.
Writing challenge alternatives to NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo isn’t the only writing challenge out there, even if it’s the most well-known. Here are some writing challenge alternatives to NaNoWriMo, and some ideas for personal writing challenges to make up yourself.
National Blog Posting Month
Now mostly followed on social media, National Blog Posting Month, or #NaBloPoMo, is a writing challenge in November focused on writing blog posts. The idea is to create one post for every day of the month.
NaBloPoMo is great for anyone who wants to up their blog game, from writing service providers to authors.
National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month, and from this a challenge was born: NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month. Like NaBloPoMo, the aim is to write every day, this time writing thirty poems.
For poetry lovers and poets, NaPoWriMo is a great way to crank out some creativity. If you want to add an extra goal, you could aim to start or create a poetry anthology to publish later.
Taking place in November, Notebook Project, or NoBoPro, is all about filling up a single notebook within a month. Start with a fresh notebook and write every day until you’ve run out of pages!
This works for anyone who has too many notebooks, but it could be especially great for anyone planning or drafting a novel. Pick up a fresh notebook and start jotting down ideas!
National Novel Editing Month
Instead of writing, National Novel Editing Month, or NaNoEdMo, focuses on editing a manuscript you’ve already completed. Setting time aside to edit can be daunting, but by dedicating a month to editing you can get your manuscript ready for submitting to literary agents.
This challenge is best for anyone who already has a first draft, or else wants to take a manuscript out of the filing cabinet to rework.
Ray Bradbury’s 52-week short story challenge
In 2001, Ray Bradbury advised writers to write as many short stories as possible. He said: “If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done.”
This is great for any writer, but especially those who want to get published in magazines and anthologies with their short fiction.
Stephen King’s 2000 words a day
Hailed for his writing and writing advice, Stephen King says in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that he prefers to write 2000 words every day. This amount is more than the average NaNoWriMo daily word goal of 1667 words, which makes this even more of a challenge.
This is great for writers of all genres, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re focusing on short fiction or novels. You can also break it down more by aiming to write 2000 words every day you set aside for writing, instead of every day.
Personal writing challenges
If you just want to write on your own terms, you can set yourself a personal challenge. This way, you set how long the challenge is for, what the challenge objective is, and don’t have to share anything you don’t want to.
Examples of personal writing challenges:
- Writing 2 novellas in a month
- Write flash fiction every day for a month
- Journal every day, whether it’s personal or writing related
- Review books regularly – reading books is essential to building your writing skills, and reviewing books can help you analyse how others plot and write
- Participate in writing sprints
Word counter alternatives to NaNoWriMo
Being able to track your word count on the website is an essential part of taking part in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t, you won’t be able to earn digital badges for writing streaks, which can act as a small reward and motivation.
Here are some ideas for tracking your word count, whether using word counter websites or doing it yourself.
Created for writers, editors, and more, Pacemaker Planner allows you to set a goal and even helps you work out how to reach the goal. The website creates a writing schedule for you to help you stay on track.
Want to gamify your writing goals? 4thewords helps you reach your word count goals and defeat monsters at the same time. This is especially great and on-theme for fantasy writers or TTRPG fans.
A website for tracking your word count, myWriteClub allows you to set your own goals, share your progress with friends, and cheer on others.
Notion is a productivity website primarily used by businesses, but thanks to the ease of creating templates it’s used by many writers as well. There are templates for planning novels, writing, and more, including word count trackers.
Here are some examples of Notion word trackers you could use:
You can also track it yourself by inputting the word count yourself in a Notion page.
There are a multitude of spreadsheet templates out there to track your word count. Just searching for “word count tracker spreadsheet” brings up options to pick and choose from.
Or use them as inspiration to create your own word tracker spreadsheet, tailored to your needs.
You can track word count based on days/sessions, chapters, or just projects if you’d like to compare how long each separate project takes you. Setting goals can be done with different formula or you can do the maths yourself.
If you’re more fond of using pen and paper, a bullet journal could be a great way to track your word count. You have the freedom to arrange and decorate the page however you like, and a visual of your progress.
Check out bullet journalling page ideas for goal tracking and habit trackers for layout inspiration.
Writing community alternatives to NaNoWriMo
One of the biggest draws of NaNoWriMo is the community aspect. If you live in a remote place, have social anxiety, or otherwise don’t want to meet people in person, finding the right writing community for your needs can be really limiting. Even more so if you don’t want to use social media!
Here are some great writing community alternatives to NaNoWriMo.
One of the largest online writing communities, Scribophile hosts writing sprints and has forums dedicated to discussions, writing tips, and more. The website is mostly focused on critiquing each other’s writing; to have your work critiqued, you’ll first need to critique others, ensuring everyone gets a chance for feedback.
There are many writing groups on Facebook to join, whether you want to focus on a genre, your region, or something less specific. Typing keywords into the Facebook search bar will come up with a list of groups you could join.
Make sure to read the group description and rules before joining! Many groups have specific days for self-promotion, and others don’t allow self-promotion at all.
It’s a little odd to be including NaNoWriMo on a list of alternatives to NaNoWriMo, but Camp NaNo is a little different.
Taking place in April and July, Camp NaNo allows you to set your own writing goals and isn’t just for novel writing. There are four different tracks: New Novelists, National Novel Finishing Month, Revision-Ready, and Camp Memoir. You can also join other writing groups via the forums.