Writing Space How-To

Your on-site writing space allows you to draft and save your novel—plus automatically update your word count and earn badges as you work.

You must create your novel first in order to access your writing space. Go back to your dashboard by clicking the Viking helmet symbol in the upper left, then click "Start your novel now" to begin. 

If you want to type your novel somewhere else, that's fine! Just copy and paste your progress in the writing space—strictly for word counting purposes and not as a master document. If you're writing by hand, generate and paste enough Lorem Ipsum to reflect your current word count.  

It's always a good idea to back-up your novel. Whether you're writing in the on-site writing space or somewhere else, keep another copy of your novel-in-progress in a different place and update it every few days. 

If your question isn't addressed below, please contact us via the email link on the Help & FAQ page.



Edit your novel settings

  1. Add a novel cover by clicking the novel cover box in the upper left, then uploading an image. Follow the image guidelines to make sure it looks great.

  2. Click on the wrench icon next to your novel title to edit your novel title, synopsis, word-count goal, and genre.

  3. Delete your novel by clicking the wrench icon next to your novel title, then “Delete this novel” at the bottom of the Novel Settings panel. Be sure you actually want to do this before confirming!



Make notes with the prep panel.

  1. Click “Add prep notes” (found in the prep panel in the left sidebar) to add another section of notes, or click on a note you’ve already started to add to or edit it. Notes can be referenced and edited at any time.

  2. Change a note title by clicking on the title above the writing space. The default title is “Novel Notes.”

  3. Type in the writing space to plan, set daily goals, write advice to yourself, jot down ideas you don’t want to forget, make notes of things you’d like to revise in November, or anything else you can think of.
    IMPORTANT DETAIL: Words here don’t count toward word-count goals nor badges. Focus your creative juices on your novel!

  4. Delete a note by clicking on the note title in the prep panel, then clicking “Delete current notes” below. Be sure you really want to delete the note before confirming.



Write your novel with the chapters panel and writing space.

Type directly into the writing space to write and store your novel on the Young Writers Program site in a series of chapters. IMPORTANT DETAIL: This option is only available during an official NaNoWriMo event. 


Create and edit chapters

  1. Click “Add chapter” (found in the chapter panel in the left sidebar) to add another chapter, or click on a chapter you’ve already started to open it and write more.

  2. Edit a chapter's settings by opening the chapter, then clicking the wrench next to the chapter title above the writing space. You can change the title, delete the chapter, or restore a previous version of the chapter by clicking "Restore from archive."

  3. Navigate through chapters by clicking the left/right arrows above the writing space, or by clicking on a chapter title in the chapters panel.


Type your novel in the writing space

  1. Type directly into the writing space to write your novel.
    IMPORTANT DETAIL: All words written in chapters count toward word-count goals and badges.

  2. Highlight a word or section to access text formatting. Normal editing shortcuts work, like Ctrl/Command+Z to undo or Ctrl/Command+C to copy.
    Educators: consider creating a poster or sharing a document showing the most useful shortcuts (undo, redo, copy, paste, select all, etc.) if your students aren’t familiar with them.

  3. Everything you type is saved automatically. Find the most recent save time by looking to the upper right of the writing space.

    Click “Save now” to save your work immediately. Word-count and progress percentage is updated each time work is saved.



Recover missing work.

  1. To restore a chapter you deleted, click the "Recover all chapters" link in the bottom left of the writing space. If you don't see that link, it means you don't have any deleted chapters. 

  2. To restore an older version of a chapter (because you made a change you didn't like, or accidentally deleted words), open the chapter and click the wrench next to the chapter title above the writing space.  Click the "Restore from archive" link and look for the desired version of the chapter. 



Get motivated with writing challenges.

  1. Once you type something into your first chapter and refresh the page, writing challenge icons appear at the very bottom of the page. Scroll down to see them.

  2. Need some extra motivation? Click “Start a writing challenge” to participate in a word sprint. Set a time goal and a word-count goal, then write until the timer goes off. Can’t stop, won’t stop!

  3. Need some encouragement? Click “Review my writing badges” to see all the badges you’ve earned for your hard work.

  4. Got writer’s block? Not anymore! Click “Get a writing prompt” and click through until you find one that inspires you to write, write, write. (These were called “Dares” on the old site.)



Validate your novel and win using the writing space.

  1. Using the writing space to type your novel? You'll win automatically once you reach your word-count goal. Look for a winner pop-up and links to the winner page. 

  2. Typing your novel somewhere else? Once you reach your goal, copy and paste your entire text into a chapter on the on-site writing space. There may be small differences between how your program counts words and how the on-site writing space does. Add as many words as you need to make the total on the site match the total on your program. Look for a winner pop-up and links to the winner page.

  3. Writing your novel by hand? Generate and paste enough Lorem Ipsum to reflect your final word count goal into a chapter on the on-site writing space. Look for a winner pop-up and links to the winner page.