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Everything you need to know about NaNoWriMo in the UK

Finding motivation to write and others to write with can be a bit of a struggle in the UK, especially if you live outside of major towns and cities. While there are many writing groups online, nothing quite compares to NaNoWriMo.

A worldwide writing challenge, NaNoWriMo is full of writers striving for a major goal: to write 50,000 words in a single month. Popular with novel writers, the challenge was initially set up to make a big start (or even to fully complete) a novel manuscript.

Primarily based in the United States, NaNoWriMo is becoming more popular every year. So how do you get started?

Get typing or get writing: NaNoWriMo is a tough writing challenge!

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is an annual event for writers, officially named National Novel Writing Month. As a non-profit organisation, NaNoWriMo promotes writing internationally with their events and website.

Hundreds of thousands of writers take place every year, aiming to write 50,000 words in just one month. Some people aim to finish a full manuscript during the month, while others try to write as much as possible.

While a 50,000-word manuscript is the traditional goal of NaNoWriMo, simply aiming to write everyday is a common goal of writers, using NaNoWriMo’s website to track writing goals.

Is NaNoWriMo free?

NaNoWriMo is completely free, all you need to do is sign up to their website. Writers who successfully complete their writing goal can even access a page with special offers with sponsors, so you can save money.

What months are NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month officially takes place in November, but the organisation has expanded beyond that.

To prepare for November, NaNo Prep takes place in September and October. This 6-week course provides activities and resources to prepare to write a novel, with each week dedicated to a different stage in preparation.

After NaNoWriMo, January and February are called “Now What?” Months, though this isn’t a community writing challenge. Instead, resources and tools are provided to encourage creative writing and other goals.

In April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo gives you control of your writing goals, instead of focusing on 50,000 words.

Can you start NaNoWriMo early?

Officially, NaNoWriMo only takes place in November, so if you want to use NaNoWriMo’s tools and events to write you’ll have to wait until it starts.

That doesn’t mean you can’t participate in other writing challenges or alternatives to NaNoWriMo though! By using resources, activities, and other writing goal trackers, you can write 50,000 words (or any amount you like) any month of the year.

How NaNoWriMo works

How you do NaNoWriMo is entirely up to you, but the website itself is fairly simple. However, if you want to win NaNoWriMo, becoming one of the official winners, you need to follow the rules.

You must:

  • Be at least 13 years old
  • Write 50,000 words between 1 November and 30 November
  • Be writing a novel

You can start a novel from the beginning or completely rewrite an old novel, but you can’t continue a work-in-progress. If you’re continuing a novel, you aren’t eligible to win, but you can still follow along.

If you want to use November to up the word count of a novel you’ve already started, you definitely can. Make use of the explosion of activity on the website and in the writing community to keep yourself motivated.

What happens after NaNoWriMo?

After NaNoWriMo, you may find your novel is still incomplete, so keep going at your own pace. You can slow down or even keep up momentum until the whole book is finished.

Then, just like with any other writing project, it’s time to drift back to the start of your novel and begin editing.

Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for finishing a whole month of intense writing!

How to find NaNoWriMo UK writers and groups

NaNoWriMo’s community has a number of UK-based regions. England alone has more than 30 regions to join to find local writers, while Scotland has 6 regions, Wales has 1 region, and Northern Ireland has 1 region. You can join as many regions as you like.

Some regions have Facebook groups or Discord servers hosted outside of the NaNoWriMo website, so you can keep up with others on social media.

You can even find or create writing groups with people across the world.

Tips for NaNoWriMo

Staying motivated to write is hard enough, let alone for an entire month of writing over 1.6k words per day. Here are some of the greatest tips I’ve found and created myself to help you do as much as possible this November.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

If you’ve missed NaNo Prep, want to plan your novel alone, or otherwise want to prepare for NaNoWriMo, there are a few things you should ideally do:

  • Sign up on the NaNoWriMo website
  • Join your region on the website or find a writing group focused on accountability (not editing – that’s for later!)
  • Write an outline of what you’re going to write, whether you’re outlining your whole novel or outlining multiple short fiction projects
  • Compile any notes or research you’ll need
  • Create notes for each main character to stay consistent
  • Create a timeline for your story
  • Mark out time for writing, whether you’re a morning writer, all-day writer, or night writer

NaNoWriMo goal tracker

NaNoWriMo’s website has its own goal tracker, but some people find they have word count trackers they prefer instead. Even making a spreadsheet or writing down numbers in a notebook can serve as a goal tracker.

Remember, to complete NaNoWriMo you’ll need to update the word count on the website. There are challenge badges for writing streaks and writing every day, and those require updating your word count regularly on the website.

NaNoWriMo motivation

It’s common for motivation to slump, especially if you’re a neurodivergent writer. To keep up motivation, prepare in advance.

Some of the best ways to stay motivated during NaNoWriMo:

  • Participate in writing sprints alone or with others
  • Stand up and walk around, or even go for a walk, during breaks
  • Set aside research for later by marking where you need to do more research – then keep writing
  • Congratulate and compliment yourself at the end of each writing session
  • Try body doubling with other writers
  • Have a reward in mind for when you’ve met your daily goal
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Put together a writing routine and stick to it
  • Stuck with descriptions? Just write dialogue and go back to it later
  • Get an accountability partner or join an accountability group
  • Use distraction blockers and timers to keep you focused
  • Share your successes and celebrate others’ successes
  • Create a writing playlist
  • Start a new paragraph or the next chapter, come back to the scene later
  • Pick a favourite sentence from the day’s writing and share it on social media
  • Write just one word, then come back and write another – try different motivating activities until you can finish the sentence

NaNoWriMo writing exercises

Writing exercises can help you get in the writing mood for the rest of the day. Many writers, like artists, complete writing exercises before starting on their novel. This can help motivate you, especially if it becomes part of your writing routine.

Tailor your writing exercises to how you want to write your novel. Practice describing the setting of your next scene so you have notes on what it will look like. If you want to work on your description skills, try image prompts and describe what you see.

Other writing exercises include:

  • Completing anagrams, wordsearches, and other spelling puzzles
  • – expanding your vocabulary with quizzes and spelling jams
  • Picking out a line from a book you own and creating something new from it
  • Asking your character questions about the scene
  • Use senses other than sight to describe a scene or character

NaNoWriMo writing prompts

Need some more inspiration? I’ve created 22 NaNoWriMo writing prompts for you to use for writing exercise, inspo, or whatever else you want.

NaNoWriMo books that got published

Here are just some books that were started or completed during National Novel Writing Month and ended up published! You can find more on NaNoWriMo’s page on

Fantasy books written during NaNoWriMo

  • A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Unbroken by C L Clark

Romance novels written during NaNoWriMo

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
  • You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
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