Help & FAQ

Look here for answers to all your noveling questions (besides that pesky “What should I write about next?”) Please check for an FAQ answer before contacting us. Because we receive a lot of email, we won’t be able to respond to questions answered directly in the FAQ.

First, be sure you’ve...

  • ...checked the Tech Help forum for possible immediate assistance with technical bugs and glitches.

Top FAQs:

UPDATED MARCH 2021: Whoa, what just happened to the YWP site?

The answer, my writerly friend, is big, fun changes!

Before, if you wanted to set a new word-count challenge for a novel, you had to start a brand new novel too. That meant that some of you had to start a lot of new novels and name them things like "My Novel Part 1," "My Novel Part 2," and so on, just to keep setting new word-count goals for a single project.

Well, now things are different. Now, you can set as many word-count challenges as you want for a single project.

For example, you can decide to accept the April Camp NaNoWriMo challenge with a novel you've already started. That way, you can keep working on it! Just click the "Continue working on a novel I've already started" button when the challenge invite appears on your Dashboard.

You can do the same thing with Personal Challenges. Like, for example, if you if you don't want to do Camp, but you want to keep working on a novel you already started, now you can go ahead and set a new word-count challenge for it yourself. To do this, open the novel and click the "Set a new personal challenge!" button that appears in the Challenge box.

You can keep doing this as long as you want! The only rule is that you can only have ONE active or upcoming challenge per novel. For example, you can't set one hundred word-count challenges for a single project - you have to finish (or leave) your current or upcoming one before you can set a new one. (To leave a challenge, open up the novel in the writing space, then click the wrench next to the challenge's name.)

We hope we designed this new feature well enough that it won't be too confusing to use, but if it is (or if something goes wrong), don't panic! You can email, ask in the Tech Help forums, or send a message to Marya_Brennan using the Message a Moderator tool from your Dashboard.

Where do I write my novel?

You can write your novel anywhere you want! If you choose to write in the YWP writing space, you’ll see your word count and badges update as you type, plus get access to other fun features, and your novel will be stored on the site. If you choose to write somewhere else (Google docs, your notebook, a series of napkins), then make sure you select the “update my word count manually” option when you create your novel, and visit the site often to update your progress. You can always switch your mind later and edit your choice in “Novel Settings” - just click the wrench above the novel title.

What should my word-count goal be?

Each writer’s goal will be different. Think about your writing experience, age, schedule, and enthusiasm for NaNoWriMo. Your goal should be difficult but still achievable; inspiring, not discouraging. For some people, that means a goal of 1,000 words - for others, 100,000! Adjust your goal throughout the month if it’s not working for you. Look to the Word-Count Goal How-To for more information and a suggested word-count guide.

What should I write about? What if I don’t know how to write a novel?

You should write about something that excites you. Think about the kinds of books you love to read, and make a list of what you love about them. Dystopian sci-fi set on far-off planets? Real-life stories starring characters with an attitude? If you enjoy reading about it, you’ll probably enjoy writing about it too. And as for not knowing how to write a novel, that’s how every author starts! The best way to learn how to write is to write, and if you need more help, check out the Resources section for workbooks, pep talks, videos, and more.

How do I win NaNoWriMo? Are there judges or prizes?

You win NaNoWriMo by reaching your word-count goal between November 1 and November 30. There’s no limit to how many people can win, and there are no judges! Just make sure to update your final word count before December 1, whether by typing in the writing space or inputting your word-count number (depending on which setting you chose in your novel settings). 

There are no prizes, either, but you can check out your winner page for some digital swag. And, if you want a copy of your novel, we've partnered with Blurb, a self-publishing company, to offer YWP participants a special NaNoWriMo landing page, a free ISBN, and 30% off your first order. Use the PDF download from the writing space for a simple process, or get creative. Read our how-to suggestions, or publish your novel now.

What happens after NaNoWriMo ends? Can I keep working on my novel? Can I start a new one?

You can work on a novel any time of year! You can participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July, create a personal challenge for yourself and set your own word-count goal and timeline, or continue the project you already started (though the stats and charts won't update).  We encourage you to save it somewhere else, too, thoughnot just on our site. 

Educators — You can set class-wide challenges any time of year and use the same virtual classroom tools as during NaNoWriMo. Just go to the Challenges area of your virtual classroom to get started.  

More FAQs About:


My Novels

Writing Space

Winning and Word Count Goals


Year-Round Writing

If you cannot find an answer to your question in the links above: