Imagine a chance to live and breathe writing, focusing on nothing but getting the words on the page …

That might sound like a dream come true, but for most of us, that dream seems out of reach. After all, busy schedules and commitments always seem to come before writing.

But what if you really could focus on your writing, even if just for a month? How do you think that would affect your dreams and goals of writing for a living?

Well, here’s your chance to find out. And you don’t even have to run away to a mountain cabin with a manual typewriter and a stack of blank paper. All you need to do is take part in NaNoWriMo for this dream to come true.

I’m going to explain what NaNoWriMo is, how it can benefit any writing goals you may have, and how to take advantage of it even if it’s not your dream to write a novel.

For Newcomers: NaNoWriMo Defined

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual event that has been encouraging and inspiring writers since 1999. Each November, about 400,000 writers around the world commit to writing a novel in 30 days. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words over the course of the month. Reach that goal and you’ll not only “win” the NaNoWriMo Challenge; you’ll also gain the satisfaction of finally writing your book.

What’s the cost of this incredible experience? Zero. That’s right, you just sign up for free at the NaNoWriMo website. From there, you write every day, track your progress, and connect with other writers around the globe for support. And you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.

But What If You Don’t Want to Write a Novel?

Let me tell you a secret: You don’t have to write a novel to take part in NaNoWriMo. If you want to, that’s great. Write a novel! But if that’s not your goal, that’s okay, too.

The truth is, no one will read through and check on what you actually wrote. You self-report your word count each day on the website. Winners are verified at the end of the month, by uploading a scrambled copy of your text to the website to confirm the word count. No one from NaNoWriMo ever reads what you’ve written, meaning it’s a judgment-free experience. You just write for the thrill of writing!

Really, NaNoWriMo presents a great opportunity for ALL writers. After all, the real goal here is total word count and building a lifelong writing habit. So it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. Think about it … this November, you could stop being someone who dreams about writing, and finally, genuinely feel like a real WRITER.

The 5 Ways to NaNoWriMo, Without Writing a Novel

The bottom line is that you commit to writing every day for 30 days, with the goal of reaching a 50K word count.

And if a novel is not your ultimate goal, here’s what you can write instead:

  • A promotional piece. Write something for self-promotion, like a lead magnet, special report, e-book, or sales letter. If you’ve been meaning to write an e-book or special report for your freelancing website, this is the time. You can also work on web copy for your site, or write promotional materials, brochures, or even emails to promote a book you’ve already written. Just keep track of the word count of everything you write.
  • Write one blog post (or more) every day. That’s 30+ posts in November. If you normally post twice a week, you’ll have an extra 15 weeks of posts ready to go at the end of the month.
  • Writing warm-up. Use the NaNoWriMo challenge as a 1,667 word warm-up for your daily writing routine. A proper warm-up leads to better performance in any activity, including writing. Free-writing, or writing for a set amount of time without a topic, is a good way to do this.
  • A nonfiction book. Who says a book has to be fiction? Write the nonfiction book you’ve been dreaming of! Maybe it’s a memoir or a book where you showcase expertise in your field.
  • Last year was my fifth NaNoWriMo, and instead of writing fiction, I journaled every day. This gave me an emotional outlet that kept me calm during a busy time of year. It was also my warm-up each day for my paid writing assignments. Plus, I used that writing time to develop several ideas. I pitched these to clients, and got some paid writing assignments from them.

Any of these writing projects will increase your writing speed, boost confidence, and get you closer to realizing your writing dreams. So make this year the year you really go for it.

If you’re ready for NaNoWriMo, please join me on the Barefoot Writer Facebook page. Throughout the month of November, we’ll be sharing bonus writing tips and tricks. Plus, it’s a great place to connect with other writers, share writing prompts, compete in word sprints, and much more.

See you there!