NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) today kicks off its 18th year helping writers achieve their creative goals. The online event is organized by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that encourages participants to work towards writing a 50,000-word novel. Writers commit to posting their word counts to their profiles each day during the event, which runs from November 1-30.
NaNoWriMo began in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay Area with just 21 writers and grew to 5,000 participants the following year, thanks to promotion from bloggers around the web. In 2015, the project had 431,626 participants, including 80,137 students and educators in the Young Writers Program.
WordPress Tools for NaNoWriMo
The NaNoWriMo website encourages writers to use their own materials for writing their novels, such as a word-processing program, typewriter, pen and paper, or whatever inspires the most creativity. WordPress is ideally suited for capturing your writing and keeping track of your word count. There are also several plugins that make it easy to break novels up into chapters and export your work into the proper formats for self publishing with WordPress.
Nano Status is a plugin created specifically for NaNoWriMo participants. Public accountability with word counts is one of the motivating factors for many writers who participate in the event, and Nano Stats makes it easy to display your progress in posts, pages, and sidebar widgets. It pulls in word count stats from the NaNoWriMo website for the username entered in the plugin’s settings.
The MyBookProgress plugin is another option for tracking your novel’s progress and displaying stats. The plugin’s writing goals and deadline tracking features are customizable so it can also be used for other projects besides NaNoWriMo.
MyBookProgress allows users to upload cover images for their books and displays a progress bar using a widget or a shortcode. It also includes MailChimp integration so that readers can subscribe to get progress updates on a book.
In addition to the customizable goal tracking, MyBookProgress comes with preset template for NaNoWriMo participants who are working to achieve the 50,000-word goal. Progress can be recorded directly inside WordPress for display on your own website, as opposed to having to sign into the NaNoWriMo website. The backend of the plugin includes a writing statistics dashboard to give you an idea of which day of the week is your most productive, and your average percentage per day/week/month. Users can easily share their progress to Facebook or Twitter directly from the plugin’s writing dashboard.
Author Wordcount is a much simpler plugin that allows writers to display one or multiple works in progress via a widget. Current word count and expected (goal) word count can be entered in the admin on the plugin’s settings page. It also has a simple UI that fits in more seamlessly with WordPress than the MyBookProgress plugin.
During the NaNoWriMo event’s 18-year history, nearly 400 novels have been published via traditional publishing houses. Participants have also self-published more than 200 novels. If you achieve your goal of finishing a novel and want to look into self-publishing, there are many tools that make it easy to export content hosted on both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites.
The Anthologize plugin allows authors to publish their works in several ebook formats, including PDF, EPUB and TEI. BookPress Client is another free plugin that organizes your writing into a custom post type so book posts won’t show up mixed with normal blog posts on your site. It supports both ePub and Kindle mobi formats. WordPress.com users can take advantage of services like FastPencil or Blog2Print for importing their posts into different book reader and print formats.