NaNoWriMo Variations You Have To Try

Anna Gooding-Call

Staff Writer

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

You may know about National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. You may even be a participant. But did you know that the world’s most popular novel-writing dash, beloved of Erin Morgenstern and Sara Gruen, has spinoffs? It’s true! Some take place during November, but many do not. Some are literary, but others have nothing to do with the life of the mind. If banging out 50,000 words in November isn’t enough of a challenge for you, embark upon a million joyful NaNoWriMo variations and roll that creative train into some wild new lands.

AcWriMo: Academic Writing Month

Originally called Academic Book Writing Month by its progenitor, this tall order of fries with extra shake does not, thankfully, require you to write 50,000 words of well-cited academic research in a month. Instead, you set your own goal. It can be anything, as long as you can track your progress every day and declare your results at the end of the month. That’s how to punch the ol’ dissertation into shape science-style!

InCoWriMo: International Correspondence Month

Think nobody writes letters anymore? Think again! InCoWriMo connects letter writers around the world with a frenzy of letters, cards, postcards, and any bizarre art project you can fit into an envelope. There are two rules: write 30 letters in 30 days, and they all have to be snail mail. Also, it takes place in February.

View this post on Instagram

Here’s my summary of InCoWriMo 2019. It’s been an incredible experience, something I didn’t expect. And for sure I’ll reply to all the letters I’ve received. Winsor & Newton watercolours Pentel Aquash Brush Pens: Jinhao 51A Blue inked with Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire Lamy Al Star Copper Orange inked with Lamy Bronze Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age inked with Montblanc Toffee Brown Pencil: Palomino Blackwing Vol 4 Hobonichi Weeks Mega #hobonichi #hobonichiweeksmega #viconti #viscontihomosapiensbronzeage #pelikanedelsteinsapphire #palominoblackwing #palominoblackwingvol4 #lamy #lamyalstar #lamyalstarcopperorange #lamybronze #lamybronzeink #jinhao51a #incowrimo2019 #handwriting #letter #fountainpen #fountainpens #montblanc #montblanctoffeebrown #flags

A post shared by Gabi R (@gabironco) on

NaCoWriMo: National Conspiracy Writing Month

NaCoWriMo challenges participants to generate a complete conspiracy theory in just 30 days. Ostensibly, the purpose of this exercise is to better understand conspiracy theories in all their artful beauty. In fact, it sounds like something a prankster would do to proliferate fake news. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it.

NaHaiWriMo: National Haiku Writing Month

There are a couple of NaNoWriMo variations that focus on poetry. NaHaiWriMo is one that happens in February, but nobody’s going to shame you for taking it on in November if you so desire. The idea is to write a haiku for every day of the month. Don’t just churn out poems in the 5-7-5 syllabic format, though. That is a concession to an urban legend about proper haiku format and verboten for the purposes of this competition.

NaKniSweMo: National Knit A Sweater Month

Prepare to jump out of your skein! NaKniSweMo will convince you that you too can knit a sweater in 30 days. You get extra points if you’re a knitting neophyte who will learn along the way. Bonus: at the end of the month, you’ll have one less holiday gift to buy. If you need a free basic sweater pattern, here’s one from Ravelry.

NaNoDrawMo: National Novel Drawing Month

There used to be an active Flickr group for this NaNoWriMo variation, but it seems to have been inactive for a while. Don’t let that stop you from bringing the concept back to life! The idea is to draw 50 pictures in 30 days because, y’know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Math!

NaNoGenMo: National Novel Generation Month

This is for all the coders out there who want to teach a computer program to write their novel for them. Anyone who’s ever taken a crack at computer science knows that getting a machine to do your work for you usually takes about as much effort as doing it yourself. Nevertheless, the results are often hilarious. And yes, Book Riot has a list of some of the best results.

NaNoProgMo: National Novel Progress Month

If you already have a novel, then don’t abandon your literary baby in the name of purist novel conformity. Instead, participate in NaNoProgMo! You’ll log a certain number of hours per day, and in my mind, it would be neat to set 50 hours as your monthly goal. Considering that this is not only the beginning of the school year but also the holiday season, 50 hours is a respectable amount of time for any working person or parent to contribute to art.

NaPiBoWriWee: National Picture Book Writing Week

You don’t write one picture book in a week. Oh no, my friends. You write seven pictures books over seven days because you’re the real gosh darned deal. Started by author Paula Yoo, this is another one of those NaNoWriMo variations that takes place outside of November. On May 1, write that children’s book you’ve always wanted to create! Then write another one. And another one.

NaPoWriMo: National Poetry Writing Month

It ought to be possible to do NaNoWriMo variations for every month of the year. Here’s one that happens in April! NaPoWriMo is all about writing a poem every day for 30 days. Roll right into it off NaHaiWriMo and you’ll be a hell of a poet by May. (Then you can immediately start writing children’s books!) It’s also known as Na/GloPoWriMo because “Glo” stands for “Global” and we are not hogging the poetry within our respective borders.

Want more inspiration during NaNoWriMo? Tune into our Annotated episode about NaNoWriMo