NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, NaNonFiWriMo and other writing challenges

I signed up for NaNoWriMo again. National Novel Writing Month. You have probably heard about it. Participants strive to write 50,000 words of fiction in the month of November. They post their words online each day, and if they get to 50,000, they win the challenge.They also have the first draft of a novel. Doing the math, 50,000 words comes out to 1666 words a day if you write every day. If you write Monday through Friday like me, reserving weekends for church, family and real life, you need to produce 2,500 words a day. That’s 12 double-spaced pages. Am I insane? Can I do it? Do I want to do it?

Actually, no. Since I wrote that paragraph, I had a talk with myself and decided to switch to NaNonFiWriMo, National Nonfiction Writing Month. This challenge will allow me to concentrate on the book I’m already writing, but at a faster speed with the support of other writers doing the same thing.

Compared to NaNoWriMo and NaNonFiWriMo, the poem-a-day challenges I’ve done and the A to Z blog challenge I did earlier this year are easy. Plus Thanksgiving happens this month. Also, Christmas is coming. Cards, gifts, parties, when will I write? First thing in the morning. Then I’ll worry about the other stuff.

NaNoWriMo is the original November writing challenge, but there seems to be one for whatever genre you want to write. The possibilities include:

Poem-a-Day challenge,

National Playwriting Month, NaPlWriMo,

National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo,

National Nonfiction Writing, Month NaNonFiWriMo,

There are more. Google “November writing challenges” for a list, but these are the biggest and best.

Challenges force you to write, offer a community of other writers to share the misery, and make you accountable. You have to do the writing to be able to post your results. Two hours on Facebook or an hour playing games won’t get it done. If we could put that kind of energy and focus into our work without an official challenge, imagine what we could accomplish.

Some of my best poems were born during Poem-a-Day challenges. I have written more poems during those challenges than at any other time. Many of those poems would not have happened if I hadn’t gotten out of bed knowing that I had to write a poem, that I couldn’t just say, “I don’t feel poetic today.”

It isn’t necessary to wait for the November challenges. You can set up your own challenge at any time. If you don’t trust yourself to stick with it, enlist a friend or a group of friends to join you. Challenge each other. Tell them “I’m going to write X number of words every day” and report your word count at the end of the day. Plan a celebration for when you achieve your goals.

My students often tell me they need a class to get them writing. They say they can’t write without assignments and deadlines. Days, months and years pass, and they just don’t get around to putting words on page or screen. Many writers long for wide-open days with nothing to do but write, but when we get those days, we’re overwhelmed by all that time and wind up wasting a lot of it. Sometimes an assignment, a deadline and limited time are the best inspiration.

So I’m getting ready to write, write, write. How about you? What kind of challenge do you need to kick your writer self into high gear?

November starts this weekend, but why wait?

Go write now.

NaNoWriMo or PAD?

Good morning, writers. It’s almost November. That brings to mind winter weather and Thanksgiving. Time to get serious about those Christmas presents. But it’s also time to write.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, starts Nov. 1. For those who have been living on another planet, NaNoWriMo is an annual writing adventure that challenges folks to write a novel–or at least 50,000 words of one–in a month. That means 1,600 words a day. No one expects perfection to result, but it’s a great exercise and may just get that book you’ve been talking about well on its way to completion.

Last year I signed up and then chickened out, but I’m going for it this year. NaNoWriMo offers an online community, incentives to keep writing, and opportunities to meet with people in your area to write together.

If novels aren’t your thing, about about the Poem a Day challenge? Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market, hosts this at his Poetic Asides blog. Every day in November, he will post a prompt which you can use or not to write a poem. You’re welcome to post your poems and read those of others doing the challenge, but it’s not required. When it’s over, you can put your poems together in a chapbook and enter a competition for the best chapbook.

In reality, every day can be a writing challenge day. But these two challenges give you a chance to join others to write together. Give it a try. I’m going to.