National novel writing month promotes the glory of the story

More than 20 people, including renowned quizmaster, Johnny Goodtimes, crowded the back room of Double Shots Coffee Shop on Chestnut Street near 2nd Street on Sunday evening. It was the local kick-off to National Novel Writing Month (known as NaNoWriMo to participants) which began today.

“I had a great time and it looked like others did too,” said Elisha Coulter, the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liason for the Philadelphia Region.

NaNoWriMo is the world’s largest writing challenge and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by Nov. 30. There are no judges, no monetary prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them.

“The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” said NaNoWriMo Founder, Executive Director and 12-time NaNoWriMo winner Chris Baty, in a press release. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”

According to NaNoWriMo officials, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both #1 New York Times Best Sellers.

According to, more than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. Participants refer to themselves as WriMos. By selecting a region setting, WriMos can find the nearest write-ins near them or generally correspond with other participants on any subject.

Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. Coulter is ably assisted in Philadelphia by Art Fleschner, who has issued an additional challenge to all Philly WriMos. Fleschner has challenged the Pittsburgh region to a ‘Word War’.

“Our challenge this year is to get every one of our writers to do 2,500 more words than they did last year because that is how much they beat us by,” said Fleschner. “That is little over one days extra words per person. We can do it!”

For more information on National Novel Writing Month, or to speak to NaNoWriMo participants in your area, visit

Disclosure: This will be Bernard J. Scally’s third time participating in NaNoWriMo. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal