It’s almost November, and that means it’s time for all the aspiring writers, authors and bloggers you know to go a little bit crazy. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when writers around the world pledge to finish a complete novel—50,000 words—in just 30 days.

Sound impossible? Last year, 384,126 writers in over 30 counties participated in the challenge, and over 34,000 actually completed a novel. Of those completed, thousands go on to publish their books—some even hitting the best-seller list. Author Marissa Meyer, for example, known for her successful Young Adult series of futuristic retellings of classic fairytales, started three of her best-sellers in the Nano challenge: Cinder, Scarlet and Cress.

Started in 1999 with just 21 writers in San Francisco, the Nanowrimo has grown into an international event, with hubs springing up in cities all over the U.S. Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. Here in our area, almost 4,000 writers are signed up for the Naperville/DuPage group; 18,000+ in the Chicago metro area; and more groups in southern and western Illinois.

The local hubs sponsor a variety of fun and helpful support activities like group write-ins at libraries and coffee shops, online “word sprints” (write as fast as you can for 10 minutes!), and inspirational pep talks to get you through a bad case of writer’s block.

While the kick-off parties start this weekend, the writing starts in earnest on November 1. Write-ins are already scheduled at Joliet Junior College (Wed, Nov 1 at 7:00pm Room A-2003 in the Library, Campus Center), Plainfield Public Library (Wed, Nov 1 at 5:30pm) and other libraries from Batavia to Warrenville to LaGrange. The writing events will continue throughout the month, as the challengers race to write an average of 1667 words every day.

Chapter one

Don’t like writing in a crowd? No worries. Lots of writers prefer to write alone, and post their word counts on the Nano website, or social media. Online groups on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest let solo writers keep in touch and get inspiration without leaving the couch.

Think about it: this time next year, you could be a published author like Sara Gruen, who wrote Water for Elephants during Nanowrimo. (Yes, the best-selling book that was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson.)

Haven’t you always wanted to write the Great American Novel or your own personal memoir? Don’t you have a romance or a sci-fi idea you can’t stop thinking about? Join me and half a million other writers on November 1, and start writing your dream!  To find local events, or to sign up for the challenge, visit

If you are participating in Nanowrimo please email me, or reply in the comments, and let me know! I’d love to share the progress of local writers during November. I’ll be posting my own word counts, too.

And if you’re not writing yourself, remember to be nice to the writers in your life this month. We’re going to be a little more crazy than usual.

Categories: Blog