Winning and Word Count FAQ

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.

How do I set or change my word-count goal?

Change your word-count goal by opening up your novel settings - just click on the wrench at the top of the novel box.

How do I update my word count?

When you create a novel, one of the settings you choose is whether you’ll be writing on the YWP site or whether you’ll be writing somewhere else and updating your word count manually. If you’re writing on site, just type in the writing space to update your count. If you’re writing somewhere else, just enter your word count where it says “Update Total Word Count” in the novel box. You can always change these settings by clicking on the wrench at the top of the novel box and choosing a different option.

I’m typing in the writing space but my word-count isn’t updating. What should I do?

Uh oh! Before you freak out, see if any of these things might be happening:

  1. Be sure you’re writing a chapter, not a note. Notes have striped lines through their titles and don’t count towards your word-count. Open up the note settings by clicking the wrench next to the note title, then change that note to a chapter.

  2. Be sure you selected the option that said you were going to write on the YWP, not the option that said you would type somewhere else and update your word count manually. To check or change your setting, click the wrench at the top of the novel box to open up the novel settings.

Can I keep writing and adding to my word count even after I've won?

You can keep writing and adding to your word count forever! Your badges and stats will only update through 11:59 PM on November 30, though.

What if I hit my word-count goal but I'm only halfway through my story?

That’s great, woohoo for you! If you have more time in the month, consider making your word-count goal a little higher and trying to reach it again. If you don’t want to change your goal but want to finish your story, just keep working on it throughout the year until you feel like it’s done.

How do I win NaNoWriMo? Are there judges? Do I get a free printed copy of my novel if I win?

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!

In past years, we've been able to work with sponsors who offered NaNoWriMo winners a free printed hard copy of their novels. This year, we weren’t able to secure a sponsor who could offer that. Options you can pursue on your own include submitting your work to an online magazine, self-publishing your book online, or downloading a PDF and binding your novel yourself.