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How to

Write a novel in a month

A tome wasn’t built in a day, but 4 weeks is doable, say the 430,000 who took part in NaNoWriMo last year 

Throughout November hundreds of thousands of people will be taking part in National Novel Writing Month. Also known NaNoWriMo, participants in this competition aim to write a 50,000-word novel before the month is over – that’s 1,667 words a day. That may sound like a daunting task, but the NaNoWriMo has a passionate community of users, with over 430,000 participating last year, who spur each other own. The NaNoWriMo website ( also motivates you by awarding badges for key milestones. There is no formal prize, most participants do it for the love of writing. But there have been those who have gone on to find fame and fortune: over 250 novels written during the event have been published. Most notably, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen was written for NaNoWriMo in 2006. Not only did this novel go onto be published worldwide, it was also adapted into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Patterson. If you’ve ever thought about writing a book, this is the time to try. Read on to find out how to get the most out of NaNaoWriMo and discover the best gadgets for writers.


1.Getting started

The event doesn’t begin until midnight, 1 November, but you can sign up for it at any time of year. Once you’ve made your account and selected where you will be writing from you can see the region’s Municipal Liaison. These people moderate the forums as well as organise local events that you can attend. Once you’re all set up nothing is stopping you from jotting down your ideas.


2.Earning your badges


On the homepage you should see your ‘My NaNo’ profile, this will have information about yourself and display your badges. There are three types of badges: participation, writing and personal achievements. You award these to yourself by either entering information or by doing fulfilling certain requirements on the website. You don’t receive anything for earning them but it’s good to show off your milestones.


3.Just keep writing


You need to write 50,000 words before the month ends; the value is chosen because, as the organisers say, “it’s challenging, yet doable”. This equates to 1,667 words a day and writing that amount whilst working or studying among your daily chores may seem like an impossible task, thankfully, NaNoWriMo offers help to those who need it. You’re not expected to write the greatest novel of all time, the goal is just to finish it.


4.Get professional help


You don’t write your novel on the website, the site is there purely for encouragement and to help you finish. You write your book however you wish, be it by hand or on a keyboard. On the website you can find pep talks from established authors, scoreboards showing which locations are writing the most, livestreams with writers answering questions and more tools available to keep the writer’s block at bay.


Gadgets For Writers

Livescribe 3 Smartpen


This pen uses Bluetooth to send what you’re writing to a smartphone or tablet. Its companion app can convert your notes into text and has a search function for your handwritten notes.
£130 | $150 |


Olympus WS-853


If you’re struggling to get your ideas on paper, why not try telling it aloud, recording it and typing it up after? This dictaphone has great quality audio and is easy to use.
£60 | $65 |


Varidesk Pro Plus 36


Avoid any back problems during a long writing session with this adjustable standing desk. It sits easily on existing desks and offers plenty of room.
£335 | $400 |


Hemingway Editor


Simply copy and paste your work into this web app and it will highlight any unnecessary descriptions, sections of dense text, and tell you how readable your writing is.
Free |


Logitech Create for iPad Pro

A full-size backlit Mac keyboard built into an iPad carry case. It has an auto- wake feature so when you open the case the device turns on.
£110 | $130 |


Yoropen Superior Ballpoint Pen

For those who like to write on pen and paper, the Yoropen allows you to see what you’re writing more clearly and is designed to reduce hand strain.
£6 | $8 |