NaNoWriMo is Coming!

To many, November means colder weather, Thanksgiving and football. But, there is an additional activity to try this November.

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.

First launched back in 1999, NaNoWriMo is the attempt to write an entire 50,000 word manuscript within the month of November.

The initial year that it was held, 140 people participated and 29 managed to finish. Since then, nearly eight hundred thousand people have tried the challenge and over three hundred and fifty thousand have completed their novels.

Participants register on the NaNoWriMo website ( Once you are set up there, progress reports and chapters from your emerging novel can be posted for others to critique. Likewise, you can sample other people’s work and give your honest opinion.

For all amateur writers, aspiring novelists and unpublished wordsmiths, this is your opportunity to show the world what you can do. And, any genre or format is allowed. As the event runners’ note on the website: "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too.”

In addition to the main event, numerous other side events, such as local meetups and specialized workshops, have been created. For example, in 2004, NaNoWriMo started the Young Writers Program (YWP) which is targeted at students from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. Unlike the regular challenge, participants in the YWP can choose how many words to write. Teachers can also sign their classes up to participate and receive starter kits with materials and lesson plans. They even have their own specialized forum ( which anyone from 13-17 can join.

Other than a sense of accomplishment and an electronic badge, no prizes are awarded to the winners. However, some of the finished novels have gone on to be published and widely read, such as Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

In the end, even if you do not succeed at the challenge, the attempt itself makes NaNoWriMo a worthy, intellectually stimulating experience.

And, for those writers out there who may want to try a warm-up before the main event, here are some shorter contests for the month of October:

Free Writing Contests in October:

· The Furious Gazelle’s 2020 Halloween Writing Contest.

All ages.

Genre: Halloween-themed poetry, fiction, short plays and creative non-fiction. Prize: $50. Deadline: October 5, 2020.

· Submit A Quotation

All ages.

Submit an original quote to match the art that is to be displayed, entries can be no longer than 20 words and about “enriching lives through diversity and inclusion.” You may submit as many original quotations as you wish; however, you may only submit five at one time.

· Bath Flash Fiction Award.

Age Limit: 16 years or above.

Genre: Flash fiction (300 words max). Prize: £1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations £30 each. Deadline: October 11, 2020.

· Expatriate and Work Abroad Travel Writing Contest.

All ages.

Genre: Essays about working abroad. Prize: Up to $500. Deadline: October 15, 2020.

· Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.

Restrictions: Poet must be born in the United States.

All ages.

Genre: Poetry. The sample must not exceed either (1) 40 typed pages or (2) one printed volume plus no more than 20 typed pages of your most recent work. There is no minimum page requirement. Prize: $60,500 for a year of travel and study abroad. Deadline: October 15, 2020.

· The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest is sponsored by Hollins University.

Restrictions: Open to young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school.

Genre: Poetry. Prize: Up to $5,000 renewable annual Creative Talent Scholarship in creative writing if winner enrolls at Hollins. Free tuition and housing for the university’s Hollins summer creative writing program. $200 cash prize. Publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ award-winning student literary magazine. Ten copies of Cargoes. Deadline: October 31, 2020.

· UNESCO “World Tales” Short Story Competition.

Restrictions: Participants must be between 12 to 18 years of age.

Genre: Short stories of 250 to 500 words, typed in English or French using Arial 12-point Regular font, original unpublished works of fiction.

Stories on the potential for future societies to be fair, inclusive, peaceful, resilient, sustainable and/or tolerant. Deadline: October 15, 2020.

· Beartooth Anthony’s Halloween Campfire Story Contest.

All Ages.

Restrictions: Story should be appropriate for all ages and inappropriate stories will not be accepted. Winner will be decided based on the judge’s votes. The submission deadline is October 23rd and the winning story will be posted by October 31st, 2020. The winner will receive a Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 Stove.

· Jane Austen’s House Writing Competition

Three age ranges for each writing category: Ages 5 – 11, 11 – 17 and Adults (18+)

Genres: Letter Writing (Word Limit: 500 words, “Following in Jane Austen’s footsteps, make your letter fun, readable and engaging.”)

Poetry (Word limit: no more than 30 lines, “Your poem can be in any style you choose; it does not need to be a rhyming poem, but it must include at least one pair of lines that rhyme with ‘rose’.)

Fiction (Word Limit: 500 words or less, telling the story of one character on one day.) The competition closes at 5pm (UK) on October 30th, 2020. The winners will receive an annual pass to Jane Austen’s House and a goody bag from our Gift Shop.

Re-Occurring Contests:

· Reader's Digest 100-Word-Story Competition

All ages.

Genre: Reader’s Digest wants a true story about you, in 100 words. Prize: $100.

· Write the World Competitions.

Restrictions: Young writers ages 13-18. Genre: Essay. Prize: Best Entry: $100; Runner up: $50.

· The Writing Quarter Competition.

Age Limit: 18 or above.

Genre: Short stories of up to 3,000 words (open theme). Prize: $30.

· Furious Fiction.

Age Limit: 17 or above.

Genre: Flash fiction. Prize: $500AUD. "On the first Friday of every month, a new set of story prompts will be revealed. You will have 55 hours to submit your best 500-word (or fewer) story."

· Reedsy.

All ages.

They run a weekly short story contest based on prompts. Prize: $50 and publication.

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