Category: by nano hq

Having the support of friends, family, or other important people in your life can help you accomplish your creative goals.

We’ve come up with these graphics that you can share to help the writer-adjacent people in your lives best understand how they can support you during November—whether that’s by keeping you off social media when you should be writing, coming up with chores for you to do if you don’t reach your goals, or participating in NaNoWriMo with you! Tag or share with someone you’d like to write with next month.


1. Writing Buddy definition
Noun: A person who writes with another person, offering encouragement and support, including but not limited to:
a. Accountability
b. Cheerleading
c. Real Talk: i.e. “…You know you chose to do this, right?”

Bring your own writing buddy #BYOWB

2: Public Declaration of Accountability
I hereby declare that I am staying off social media until I hit my next writing goal. Scold me if you see me around these parts until I get there!

3: Public Declaration of Accountability
I hereby declare that if I fail to reach my next writing goal, I will commit to doing a chore for you. Make suggestions and cheer me on below!

4: Public Declaration of Accountability
I hereby declare that upon reaching my next writing goal, I will join one of you for a celebratory treat. Make a date with me or cheer me on below!

How to Reinforce Your Characters with Detailed Worldbuilding

What does the world of your novel look like? Sometimes you have a great story idea, or really cool characters, but for some reason, your writing just seems to fall flat. Watch this video to get some tips on how detailed world-building can help you add depth to your characters and your plot. 

If you don’t include a lot of detail when you’re creating the world of your story, your characters may seem two-dimensional.

One writing trick is to show more about your characters by putting them in specific settings and letting the objects or landscape around them tell readers something about the characters themselves. 

You can also use your setting to enhance or create a specific mood in your novel, or alert your readers that an important plot point is about to happen. It can also influence how your readers feel when they’re reading your novel.

Treating your setting as something that shows how your characters feel, not just the place they happen to be in, can help deepen your writing and make your readers more invested in your story.

2019 NaNoWriMo Facebook Cover

2019 NaNoWriMo Writer Badge

2019 NaNoWriMo Twitter Banner

It’s October, which means that National Novel Writing Month is just one month away!

Are you writing a novel with us in November? Let the world know by updating your social media profiles with this participant flair! (We have a square icon image, as well as banners sized for Facebook and Twitter). 

You can also announce your project on the brand new NaNoWriMo website! If you haven’t seen it yet, log into with your existing username and password (or create a new one if you don’t have an account). You can go to “My NaNoWriMo” > “Projects”, and click the “Announce new project” button at the top.

Not sure what you want to write about yet? Don’t freak out! We’ve got a lot of resources to help you prep for writing a novel this month with our NaNo Prep 101 workbook and exercises. 

We’re incredibly excited to officially welcome you to our redesigned website. We were only able to do this with your support: your donations provided the resources, your ideas laid the foundation, and your enthusiasm provided the motivation to take this next, big step toward the future. It’s been a long journey and there’s still more to come… so we thank you for being such wonderful partners.

If you haven’t already, sign into the new site with your existing username and password!

What you should try first on the NaNoWriMo site:

Customize your profile. We hope your personal space on the site feels more like yours than ever! Add a custom banner plate, display the stats you’re most proud of, and share your favorite books and authors.

In addition to your shiny donor halo, you’ll see a brand new set of laurels that commemorate your wins. The more wins under your belt, the longer your set of laurels will get:


Announce the novel you’re planning to write this November. Go to “My NaNoWriMo” → “Projects”, then click “Announce New Project” to share details about your NaNoWriMo 2019 novel! (In the window that pops up, make sure to check “Associate with a NaNoWriMo event”.)

Some of y’all make gorgeous covers for your projects, so we’ve made sure you can show them off. Plus, click the cover to reveal the “back of your book” where you can share your summary and an excerpt:


Discover your local writing community. Go to “Find a Region” to check out your local NaNoWriMo community. You can find out who your Municipal Liaisons are, chat with local writers, and join your regional forum.

You can also find in-person write-ins and meet-ups near you! Just go to your region and click the “Events” tab to scope them out and RSVP:


How to get in touch with us

If you have feedback or questions about the redesign, we’d love to hear it! We’ll be continuing work on the site all season long. You can share that in the Suggestions and Feedback forum. If something’s not working for you, please report those bugs in the Support and Tech Help forum. If you’re having issues with logging into the site, please email us.

Brave the Page, our brand new NaNoWriMo handbook for young writers, is available to order! Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, this is our go-to resource for middle-grade writers. Check out this Brave the Page excerpt on taking a character field trip:

Character Field Trip

To make your characters more believable, grab an invisibility cloak and a notebook and take a little field trip to study people in their natural habitats. You could sit in a crowded restaurant, walk around a shopping mall, or go for a ride on a bus. Wherever you end up, make sure you’re inconspicuous (that is, don’t be obvious; be sly like a spy). If you’re not able to get out of the house, turn the TV on and find a show where people are talking to each other. A reality show or talk show would work well.

In your notebook, jot down descriptions of the people around you. What do you see? What do you hear? Is someone slurping their soup or walking with a little skip in their step or scowling at the people around them? Do you see someone who’s broad-shouldered and tall like a football player, or someone who’s flowy and petite like a reed dancing in the wind? Take note of mannerisms (teenage girl nibbles on her nails as she reads her book), style choices (older man with a green spiky Mohawk is wearing a dark-blue business suit), and anything else unique or interesting that catches your eye. 

Observing people and the way they interact with the world around them will help you develop believable characters across all genres. Even if your characters are 100-foot-tall cats or pint-sized purple dragons, you’ll want to incorporate human qualities into them or you’ll end up with a very confusing story. 

Here are a few fun exercises from authors you can do to help develop your characters: 

Watch the news, eavesdrop on the people at Trader Joe’s, go to all the parties. Your characters are out there, waiting to be discovered. 

—Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon

Write a long list of all your characters. Then, start drawing random lines connecting random characters to each other. Don’t think—just connect. Afterward, look down at your page. Try to figure out a connection between each of the two random characters you just linked—something scandalous, maybe, or something sweet. Something three-dimensional and unexpected. Some explosive scene that throws the two together. 

—Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy

Hey Wrimos, did you know that NaNo Prep season is officially kicking off?

Last year, we asked a bunch of first-time NaNoWriMo winners one simple question: What went right? 

There were so many interesting, thoughtful, and funny responses… and one major common theme: preparation. That preparation took a lot of different forms, and we did our best to corral it all into something we’re calling our NaNo Prep 101 Workshop!

Over the next six weeks, we’ll provide focused NaNo Prep activities for you to knock out of the park—focusing on idea generation, character development, worldbuilding, and more. By the time November rolls around, we hope you’ll be more prepared than ever to reach 50,000 words on your novel draft.

We designed this course with less seasoned Wrimos in mind, but even if you’ve written (or won!) with us before, we think you’ll discover something useful.

Check out this week’s NaNo Prep 101 Resources

Download the Complete NaNo Prep 101 Handbook

What do baking and writing have in common? More than you might think!

In this video, NaNoWriMo staffers explore the similarities between baking and writing as they cook up some delicious desserts (and try to resolve a lengthy debate at NaNoWriMo HQ about whether madeleines are cakes or cookies.): 

 1. In both baking and writing, you might be a planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between. 

 2. Even if you’re prepared, you may encounter unexpected obstacles. 

 3. Conditions won’t always be optimal. Go for it anyway! 

 4. Sometimes, working with friends can help you meet your goals. 

 5. Whatever your creative style, the important part is making something that you like!

NaNoWriMo is coming up in November, so this September, we want to help you prep for the months ahead and develop your novel idea with our annual month-long #InstaWrimo challenge. We designed a month of photo prompts (both concrete and abstract) to get you thinking about characters, setting, and story. All you need to join in is an Instagram account!

Participating in our Instagram Challenge will also give you a sneak peek into this year’s theme! Can you guess what it is from the prompts? We’re officially launching our NaNo Prep activities (and our brand-new website!) the week of September 10, so you can find out more then! To join the Challenge, follow these steps:

  • Use the 30 photo prompts listed in the graphic above to start thinking about your novel. We’ll post the full challenge prompt on Instagram, but it will also be available in this post if you need to refer back to it.
  • These prompts are just suggestions—you can interpret them as literally or as whimsically as you like. You can post a photo for each of the prompts, or choose just a few. You can post one every day, or all at once. There aren’t any strict rules—the most important part is having fun!
  • Make sure to tag any posts with the #InstaWrimo hashtag so we can find them. We’ll pick photos from the challenge to feature on our own Instagram account throughout the month. Follow the hashtag to see what our awesome community is up to, and to get inspired. You can also tag a friend you think would like to join you in the challenge!
  • Use your imagination, get creative, and get ready to write!  

IMG: A graphic labeled “It’s NaNo Prep Time! An #InstaWrimo challenge from @nanowrimo”, and featuring the following prompts:

1. Past/Future
2. Shelfie
3. Writing friends
4. Baby photo (future novelist)
5. Flights of fancy
6. NaNo fuel
7. If your novel were a meme
8. Come as your character
9. Oops!
10. Outline/novel sketch
11. Fur buddy
12. New profile screenshot
13. Time piece
14. Cover design
15. Plot twist!
16. Noveling music
17. Cast your main character
18. Cast your villain
19. Cast a supporting character
20. The sands of time
21. Novel dedication
22. Banned book
23. Cliffhanger
24. Living literature
25. NaNo swag
26. Paradox
27. Where/when in the world?
28. Fresh air
29. Suddenly…
30. Time to write!

5 Writing Dares (featuring the Traveling Shovel of Death)

Start writing NOW with these five dares, whether you’re in the middle of your project or looking for a way to begin. All dares provided by the Dare Machine on NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program website. 

1. Your character discovers an inanimate object that laughs. 

2. Create a human character based on your pet. 

3. Make a character climb a tree. 

4. Give one of your characters amnesia. 

5. Have a character find an unlucky penny. 

Plus one extra non-writing dare for us to watch out for! 

Darer: Communications Manager Katharine Gripp

Balancer: YWP Director Marya Brennan

Brave the Page, our brand new NaNoWriMo handbook for young writers, is available for pre-order! Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, this is our go-to resource for middle-grade writers. Check out this Brave the Page excerpt on generating novel ideas:

Idea-Catching Mechanism #1: Mine Your Life 

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored,” author Neil Gaiman wrote. “The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

When you mine your life, you look back through your past to extract sparkling sapphires as well as pieces of combustible coal. You dig deep to uncover experiences and emotions and memories and dreams, and then you gather them in a pile and watch as they ignite and spark story ideas. 

The nuggets you mine from your past don’t need to be epic or amazing or tragic (though they can be). They can be simple moments or heated conversations or the smell of your favorite holiday. It can be tat time when you were three years old and used your mom’s lipstick as a crayon on the freshly painted wall. Or that feeling you got when you aced (or failed) your math test. Or the color of the sky after you saw your grandfather for the last time.

Your memories might lead to wild new ideas. Or they might serve as a foundation upon which you build your story, as with author Joyce Hansen’s book The Gift-Giver, which came out of her past experiences. “I recalled my own childhood as I created the story, so that underneath what seems to be a contemporary middle-grade novel is actually a nostalgic memory of my years growing up in a Bronx neighborhood in the late 1940s and early fifties.” 

To get started on mining your life, take 10 minutes to write down (or draw) as many memories, experiences, and dreams as you can. Include a lot of details or a single word-whatever works for you. Do this every day for a week. 

Here are a few prompts to guide you if mining memories from your whole life feels too big:

  • Holidays or special gatherings
  • A time you tried something new
  • School events or field trips
  • A time that was particularly funny, happy, or sad
  • Family members or pets
  • A time you were scared or embarrassed
  • Your earliest memories