NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was first launched in 1999 and is a non-profit event that challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. In 2017, more than 402,000 people around the world participated. 

How does NaNoWriMo work?

The goal is to write 50,000 during the month of November. You can write your novel anywhere, using your own materials, for example a laptop or computer. You can even write by hand or by using an old-school typewriter. 

Novels are not typed directly onto the NaNoWriMo website.

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo works best when writers start a brand-new project; however, writers at any stage of a project are welcome to participate. 

Writers must keep track of their word counts online by logging them each day on the NaNoWriMo website. 

Woollahra Libraries and NaNoWriMo

Why is Woollahra Libraries supporting NaNoWriMo?

Woollahra Council is home to a rich literary and creative community. We are keen to encourage everyone to enjoy writing and reading. We support writers of all ages and styles through activities like Poets' Picnic, the Woollahra Digital Literary Award, Story Time, Author Talks, Writers & Readers, and Writers & Readers for Young People. 

With the advent of the Woollahra Digital Literary Award, we think an online writing challenge like NaNoWriMo is a natural fit.

How is Woollahra Libraries supporting local NaNoWriMo participants?

We're supporting local people who sign up to participate in the NaNoWriMo challenge by:

  • setting up this page, which has useful information for participants, plus forums for writers to develop an online writing community
  • hosting five writing-themed workshops from June to October, to help writers prepare to write a 50,000 word novel
  • dedicating spaces in each of our three libraries so NaNoWriMos can gather, write and even brainstorm. 
Plus, our friendly and knowledgeable Woollahra Libraries staff are always on hand to answer questions.

Participating in NaNoWriMo

Who can take part in NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is open to anyone over the age of 17 who has ever dreamed of writing a novel. 

Why should I take part?

Why not? 

By participating in NaNoWriMo, you'll not only write a 50,000 word novel, you'll also have the opportunity to meet fellow NaNoWriMos, attend free writing workshops and be part of a local creative community.

You never know... you might be the next Thomas Keneally or Colleen McCullough, Tim Winton or Liane Moriarty. 

How do I register for NaNoWriMo?

You can register for NaNoWriMo online: https://nanowrimo.org/sign_up

Do I write directly onto the NaNoWriMo website?

No. You do not write directly onto the NaNoWriMo website. You do not have to upload your copy to the website, either. 

Writers use their own laptops, computers, tablets or notebooks to write their novel. 

However, all participants must upload their daily word count to the NaNoWriMo website in order to have their word count recorded and counted toward their 50,000 word target. 

Can I participate if I want to write non-fiction?

Absolutely! Participants are encouraged to write novels of all genres. The goal is 50,000 words, whether that's sci-fi, YA, fantasy, literary fiction, biography, historical romance, chick-lit... you name it, you can write it!  

How do I update my word count on the NaNoWriMo website?

On the NaNoWriMo site, you have two options for updating your word count. You can:

  1. Update your total word count.
  2. Add to your total word count.
To select one of the options above:
  1. Sign into your nanowrimo.org account.
  2. Create a novel for the current NaNoWriMo event.
  3. At the top of any page in November, you'll see your current word count. Hover over it to update your word count. Click the dropdown menu to select your word-count updating option.


1. Update your total word count
This option allows you to update your total word count for your novel so far.
For example, if you've written 100 words, you would input "100" into the word-count update field. 

If you write another 150 words for a total of 250 words, you would input "250" into the word-count update field.
2. Add to your total word count

This option allows you to add the words you've written since your last update to your total word count.
For example, if you've written your first 100 words, you would input "100" into the add-to-total field.

If you write another 150 words, you would input "150" into the add-to-total field. 

Then, our word-count updater would add that to your total word count, and display your current total of 250 words.

Do I really have to write 50,000 words?

We get it - 50,000 words can seem a bit daunting. It's also a challenging but achievable goal. (Check out this list of famous novels of 50,000 words). With a bit of thought, planning and commitment, it's possible for you to write 50,000 words. We've organised writing workshops and other resources to help you along the way. 

What happens if I don't reach the 50,000 word goal?

NaNoWriMo is a personal writing challenge and there are no penalties for not completing the 50,000 word goal. We encourage you to do your best!

What happens after I write my 50,000 words?

Writers who have completed their draft novels have the opportunity to go through an editing and redrafting process to refine their novels. There is also the opportunity for writers to pitch their novels to publishers. Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published, including Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. 

Why not skip tradition? Submit your work to the Woollahra Digital Literary Award 2020. The call for entries opens in December 2019.

Support for NaNoWriMo participants

How do I find out what's happening?

The easiest way to do this is to register for Your Say Woollahra. You only have to register once to participate in any Woollahra Council engagement activities.

Then, visit the NaNoWriMo at Woollahra Libraries page to stay up to date with the latest news. Check out our 'Latest News' and 'Key Dates' sections to find what what's happening, where and when. 

You can also get involved in one of our writers' forums - share your ideas and experiences, bounce ideas off other writers or ask a question. 

What can you tell me about the writing workshops?

Writing a novel is no easy feat and we want you to enter the NaNoWriMo challenge feeling prepared and confident.

We've organised five writing-themed workshops to help NaNoWriMos get ready to write. The workshops take place monthly and are free of charge to attend (booking is essential). The topics have been designed to take you on a journey of writing a novel -- from research to editing. 

You'll hear first hand from published writers and experts, who will share their experience and expertise. 

You can find information about the workshops on our 'Key Dates' and 'Latest News' sections on this page.

How do I book to attend a workshop?

Bookings for our NaNoWriMo workshops are managed through Eventbrite. 

When registrations open for each workshop, we'll publish a link on the 'Latest News' section of this page. Just click the link to book your place.

What is Come Write In?

Woollahra Libraries is an official NaNoWriMo Come Write In venue. Come Write In venues are physical spaces that are opened to NaNoWriMo participants, to support them as they write 50,000 words and to help foster the local writing community. 

To support local participants, we've committed to setting aside rooms in each of our three libraries for NaNoWriMos to write during the month of November. We'll also be providing light refreshments.

Times for each location vary. Please check out our 'Key Dates' to find out when our Come Write In sessions are on. 


What if I can't make one of the Come Write In sessions?

Can't make it to one of our Come Write In sessions? Don't worry! Your local library is available to you anytime during opening hours. You're welcome to come along and write whenever suits you. Just find a comfy spot, BYO snacks and get writing.