Be a Novelist by the End of November

Sebastian’s Team Pick:

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? Has anyone ever told you you should be a writer? Has anyone ever called you self-involved? Do you jot down “creative ideas” in a moleskine or like to spend hours at an old fashioned typewriter? If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should probably write a novel this month. I’m going to!

Everyone looks cool when they're writing a novel! (image from the back cover of Eileen Myles' A Fresh Young Voice From the Plains)

Just like last year, November is National Novel Writing Month, or as the hip kids call it NaNoWriMo. And NaNoWriMo has a campaign to help all of us (recent) aspiring-novelists get those words flowing. They challenge you to write a 50,000-word novel between Nov 1 and Nov 31 at 11:59:99 PM.

[It’s] a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

If you sign up at you get to update and track your word count online, you’ll receive pep talks from published authors, and you have access to the forums (and seriously there is a forum for everything – are you a queer chick looking to write queer scifi – forum for that…. single 20-something writing historic fiction? forum for that!) and regional groups. Plus the regional groups have meetups for caffeine-fueled writing sessions. And if you meet the 50k word goal, your name gets added to the official list of NaNoWriMo winners!

If none of this is selling you on the campaign, just think of how sexy you’ll sound when you tell women (or whatever gender you’re pursuing at the time) that you’re working on a novel. Think about it. Yeah, now you’re on board.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Sebastian has written 16 articles for us.


  1. For some reason there are sexy witches and vampires in here. I mean I love em, but I’m not sure how they got in my post :)

  2. I mean, among queers, “I’m working on a novel” kind of IS the best pickup line ever. Not that I’ve used it or anything… :P

  3. I love NaNoWriMo, I look forward to it all year.
    Also: That’s a pick up line I haven’t tried. Now to find some poor unfortunate soul to test it on!

  4. “And NaNoWriMo has a campaign to help all of us — SEXY VAMPIRES — aspiring-novelists get those words flowing.”

    Please God don’t let us end up with another Twilight!!

  5. Doing it! I’m up to ~8500 words and plan on pushing myself all the way to 50,000 because I’m tired of my job and want some supplemental income to do things that I love.

    Also just self-published a book of my poetry, which’s cool and makes me feel naked, but it’s cool. That was an excellent kick-start to forcing myself to write more.

  6. I’m doing Nano! I have yet to pick anyone up by telling them I’m writing a novel, though. What am I doing wrong??

  7. I’m doing NaNoWriMo as well. I hesitated to say anything until after the kick-off because I’ve had some spectacular fails at it in the past… but this year I seem to have kept up my word count so far, so I’m cautiously optimist.

    I’m married, so I don’t need the pick up lines, but I hope it works for you guys! :)

    • Also, I’m “Electrasteph” on, so if you want to be writing buddies, look for me.

  8. I’ve heard of this, it’s pretty cool. There’s also one of these things where you are challenged to record an entire album in a month or a song a day or something. Sometimes it is boundaries that really let our boundless creativity flow! I think I remember Mr. O’Neill telling Daria something like that once. Hah.

  9. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo every year since I was 13 and I’m yet to lose. Come on guys, let’s do this! (I’m Vee over on the NaNoWriMo forums of you want to come say hi ^_^)

  10. So I’m taking the challenge a little differently and settling my goal to OUTLINE an entire Graphic Novel Script. Like, a big one. This is a challenge as my outlines are nearly full working scripts , so it’s still a lot of writing on my part.

    • That’s extremely cool. I don’t have a solid idea for a graphic novel yet; just some stuff rolling around in my head that I jot down occasionally. Hopefully after November I’ll be ready for that.

  11. Every year I plan to do this. EVERY YEAR. And every single year my professors, eager to crush my aspirations, assign a ridiculous amount of work to me so that my creative flower will never blossom.

    CURSE YOU UNIVERSITY! I will have my revenge.

  12. holy crap i am definitely checking this out
    not least because NaNoWriMo sounds like the kind of neighbourhood where smart sexy queers live.

  13. I to amm nano-ing this year! this is my first year doing it…. its about dinosaurs. also it is post apocalyptic. so there’s that. :D

  14. November is my favorite month because of NaNoWriMo. I’ve done it for the last 4 years and I’m trying again this year, but I’m already behind augh.

    • You’re not alone! I currently have around 400 words and now I’m procrastinating like hell. And I’m already on my fifth year, and I still haven’t won. :/

  15. I love NaNoWriMo! It’s really the best sort of thing to get the words flowing and there is a definite deadline that people like me need. This is my second year participating and I really hope to win again.

  16. This is six years in a row for me :D – and one of the books I’ve written is good enough that I’m seeking publishing (easier said than done, of course)

    I’m having a very slow start though this year…stupid seasonal plague.

    Anyhow, I’m saylamarz on the site:

    Hit me up!!

    We should all read each others’ books at the end :D

  17. I will be a published political science textbook author in a few months!

    …not as good a pickup line.

  18. Ahhh, NaNo. This is my second year doing NaNo, and my first year actually getting beyond the first day.
    Even though I’m only slightly above the daily goal, I am still proud of myself. Baby steps… Baby steps.

  19. I am also doing this – I’m ashearer if anyone wants to stalk me and my nameless novel. My first year!

    I only have 2k words so far. ><

  20. I’m doing this! Although it’s the fifth day and I just reached 2000 words (I need 1667 a day.) And I’m working Saturday, so I’ll be cramming all Sunday. Also this is exam month for me.

    I (stupidly) told myself that if I can get this done, no matter how shitty the book, I will let myself consider a career in writing, instead of going with a safe choice.

    Seriously mad at myslef for saying that right now…

  21. I AM DOING IT. (it needed caps because im VERY excited)
    Already started one a month ago, but of course i only have a a paragraph done.

  22. I’ve been registered/attempted to participate for a few years now, but I ever get very far. I’m at about 500 words now, which is nothing, but who knows, this could be the year!

Comments are closed.