It is November, and you know what that means. If you don’t know, then let me tell you: November is the National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, where thousands (we’re speaking in the hounded thousands here) come together from November 1st to November 30th and strive to write a novel.

Chapter 1: Introduction

NaNoWriMo has already kick-started November for many creative souls around the globe. When you are reading this, November might be coming to a close; however, that is no reason to sit on your lazy bum. You can still participate, as there is no limit to words written, and should you feel like challenging yourself you, can even go for the goal: 50 000 words, glory, honor and the feeling of satisfied self-achievement.

NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that works to empower and encourage writing and creativity around the world. NaNoWriMo started back in 1999, and in 2014 they had 325,142 participants, globally! We can only assume that more have joined this year.

If you sign up for NaNoWriMo, you will also get inspiring pep-talks and motivation letters from NaNoWriMo and already published authors.

NaNoWriMo also help you to keep track on your word count. When you sign up, you get your own “home page” with statistics about your novel. Here you can see everything from your daily word count, till how far in front or behind you are until you reach your 50 000 word goal. You yourself enter how many words you write per day. By reaching new milestones, like 5 000 and 10 000 words, you will get motivational letters and badges to stroke your ego and help you keep on going.

It should be noted that it doesn’t matter what you decided to write about, or the language you decide to write in. The most important factors are to write and be creative.

Chapter 2: But I have so much else to do….

NaNoWriMo sets a goal for you to write a novel in a month. Is that possible, you might ask. The answer is a definite “YES”. The only liabilities you might happen upon is social life, exam reading, exams themselves and possibly work. But really, who cares about those factors? You can finish a novel in one month!

Ok, ok. Let us not get too excited here. It’s perfectly possible to finish up a novel without stealing too much time of your daily life. Maybe you can wake up an hour earlier than normal and do some writing then, or just before you go to bed. If you bring a small notebook or even just your phone, you can type away on the bus, in between lectures, during lunch, and when your friends are babbling about the boring stuff that happened to them at the university today. Instead of watching TV or surfing the net you can also spend this time writing. Find the small gaps and use them for what it’s worth. Like with everything in life, this is about commitment.

Chapter 3: Community

NaNoWriMo has a huge community. When you sign up you will be able to access you own home community, i.e. the country you live in or hail from (you can chose what to sign up with after all). These communities will help you get to know your fellow writers from your country. You have your own forum where you can chat, help and motivate each other.

There is also the forums that have everything you need to know about how to get started, the different genres you can write about, or maybe you need some inspiration on how to kill off your main character, or that annoying aunt no one really likes.

The buddy system is also a great way to get to know new people. Maybe you’ve been speaking with someone you thought was extra interesting on the forum, or you end up deciding to comment on each other’s work.

Weekly meetings are also held around the world. Your home community shows meetings hosted in your country. And if there are no meetings you can always arrange one yourself in your home city. On these meetings, the focus is to write, but it’s also a time to meet fellow writers and get to know new people. Tromsø has had one meeting when this is being written. Why don’t you come and join in on the next one?

Chapter 4: Word sprints

Should you have any problems with writing then you can join word sprints, also called word wars. Word sprints are when someone sets a timer and you write as much as you can during that time. It can really help you reach your daily word count. Remember to leave your inner proofreader somewhere far away. Preferably behind a locked door, with a gun loaded and ready to shoot the disruptor in the foot, so it will reach you too late to interrupt you.

Sometimes there will be small tasks added to the word sprints. An example could be: write as much as you can within 10 minutes, without using the word “and”. Easier said than done. Just try and see for yourself!

Chapter 5: Writing Center

UiT got its own Writing Center. If it’s possible to use it for NaNoWriMo, this author is a bit unsure. However, you can always drop by and ask.

UiT’s Writing Center is an offer to students in the programmes Cultural Visual Anthropology, Indigenous Studies (MIS), and Peace and Conflict Transformation (MPCT), PhD students and Faculty members at the HSL. However, if you’re from a different faculty, email them and hear if you can drop by too!

The Writing Center does not proofread or edit your texts, but they can give you help with many other problems you can face while writing assignments and other texts; such as getting started, brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, etc.

The Writing Center can also read your academic text to give you valuable feedback. This can be especially important if you are doing a home-exam or writing a thesis.

They hold open every Tuesday from 10 am – 2 pm, and every Thursday from 1 pm – 3 pm at room A-1005 in the HSL building. You can also contact them at

Why don’t you drop by and give them a visit?

Chapter 6: The end

So work hard! Why let this golden opportunity run you by? Sure, exams are ramping up, but writing some thousand words a day can be a nice way to relax from the daily stress of studies and work. If you do not reach the word count on 50 000, at least you have started on something great that you can continue with when November is over and the holiday sets in. Sometimes it’s not about reaching the goal, but just finding the motivation to get started.

Dust your pen off, find some spare paper, and write your heart out. After all as they say at NaNoWriMo: “Your story matters”.

Visit NaNoWriMo on and the Writing Center at

Text: Oda Camilla Rykkje