My Novels FAQ

When do I start writing my novel for NaNoWriMo? What about Camp NaNoWriMo?

The first day to write for NaNoWriMo is November 1 and the last day is November 30. Camp NaNoWriMo has two sessions that run during the months of April and July.

How do you define "novel?" Does fan fiction count? What if I want to write interconnected short stories rather than a novel?

We define a novel as "a lengthy work of fiction." Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you're writing falls under the heading of "novel." In short: If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel, too.

Where do I write my novel? Can I handwrite it?

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.

Can I write a novel with a friend?

Yes! Right now, there’s no way for two different accounts to work on the same novel, but you can set a word-count goal as a team, write off-site, and then update your individual author pages separately.

Can I write in a language other than English?

Sure! We love novels in any language.

Who reads my novel?

The only people who read your novel are the people you decide to share it with in real life. If you’re participating as part of a class, your teacher will also have access to your work, but that’s it.

Can I write a novel even if it’s not November?

You can work on a novel any time of year! You can continue a project you already started, participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July, or create a Personal Challenge for yourself and set your own word-count goal and timeline.

How can I change which novel appears as my “Current Novel?”

Whichever novel you looked at last in the writing space shows up as your current novel. Go to your “View All Novels” page and open up another novel to make it your most current.

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.

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

You can continue working on your NaNoWriMo novel all year on the YWP site (but your badges and charts will no longer update). You can keep challenging yourself in other ways too, like by participating in the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge in April and July, or setting a personal challenge for yourself any time of year. 

I want to start a new novel, but I don't see the personal challenge box on my dashboard. Why?

Here's how the YWP site works: During the official NaNoWriMo season (October and November) we really want people to focus on their official NaNoWriMo projects. That means, you can't create a new personal challenge during those months, just your NaNoWriMo novel.

When the NaNo challenge ends on December 1, then you'll be able to create your own personal challenge from your Dashboard. Your NaNo novel will also be stored on site and you can keep working on it whenever you want.

Desperately want to start a new novel, but it's not December 1 yet? Here's my advice:

1. Raise your word-count goal on your current NaNo novel and focus on writing more of that story! If you've already reached your goal, it probably means your goal was too low, and you need more of a challenge to keep you writing throughout November.

2. If you just HAVE to work on a new story, then for now, just start a new chapter of your NaNo novel and write your new story there. Make it a chapter if you want it to count towards your word-count goal, or make it a note if you don't. Even though NaNoWriMo is technically about writing one novel the whole month, it's okay to be a rebel. One year, I wrote a series of short stories for my NaNo project. I just stored them all in the same doc so their word-count added up together.

We're so excited that all of you are coming up with multiple novel ideas and I hope you continue working on them throughout the year!