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Embrace Your Inner Rebel

As I float about the various NaNo groups I’m an active member of on Facebook (four, if you include the official group) and haunt the forums, I see the same sort of question come up time and time again.

“Can I write [insert type of writing here]?”

There’s a myth that goes around the NaNo-dom that you MUST be writing 50,000 words of ONE novel and one novel only during November. That you should finish said novel by November 30th, no matter what word count (as long as it’s over 50,000) you end up with.

Well, I say a ‘myth’… that kinda is in the NaNoWriMo rules:

The rules state that, to be an official NaNoWriMo winner, you must…

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft.
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!

HOWEVER! There is another way!

Anyone who doesn’t follow the official rules of NaNoWriMo can still be a Wrimo, can still take part and, gosh darn it if they can’t still be a winner as well! How? Easy.


Rebelling has probably been around almost as long as NaNo has. Not everyone wants to write a fictional novel. What about a non-fiction piece? Or fanfiction? What about a bunch of short stories? Or poetry?

And what happens if you’ve already started The Masterpiece novel when November rolls around and you don’t want to take a break from the flow to write something you may never look at again during November just for the sake of following the rules?


Don’t worry if you’re finding yourself in a position that doesn’t seem to be reflected in the post of those around you. Don’t feel pressured into writing a 50,000 word fiction novel if you really don’t want to do it. There are people who rebel year after year. There’s even a section of the forum for Rebels to come together and discuss their Rebel-y-ness aware from the potential glares of the traditional NaNoists. If anyone has a problem with what you’re doing, that’s only going to add stress to their November.

I have seen, more than makes me happy, people ask if they can write two stories in November, totaling at 50,000 words and replies saying ‘no, it must be one novel at 50,000’. And yes, technically, it should be, but if someone wants to be a short story writer or finds the idea of diving into a full length novel a bit daunting, then let them using NaNoWriMo to get their stories out without feeling like they’re the bit of fuzz you get stuck to your shoe after peeling a sticker off, or worse, make them feel like they’re not welcome to the community.

D’y’know what? Rebels are just as much as part of the community as anybody. They have the same goal, the same problems, the same low moments, the same high moments as everyone who enters into NaNoWriMo.

There’s a debate year after year about this: should Rebels “win”? Well, why not? No-one pays to do NaNo, there’s no actual club to be kicked out of and the only prize is self satisfaction. So, if someone wants to write 10 5,000 word short stories, and claim their NaNoWriMo winner’s purple word count bar and certificate, then why can’t they? Nobody can stop them from doing so as there is no way of checking, other than taking someone’s word for it, that they rebelled or not.

So, if you want to sit down and write your memoirs, or a day-to-day diary from the point of view of your pet dog or if you want to write 50,000 words of poetry in 30 days, by the love of the Gods go for it! (Hey, if Milton can write a 80,000 word poem over 10 books, why can’t you?)

I rebelled once. Last year, in fact. And, y’know what? I was an ML. *cheeky grin*

Embrace your inner rebel. NaNoWriMo is your November. Do whatever on Earth you want with it.

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