This week: NaNoWriMo Options Edited by: Jeff-o'-lantern
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"You never know what you can do until you try,
and very few try unless they have to."
-- C.S. Lewis
About The Editor: Greetings! My name is Jeff-o'-lantern and I'm one of your regular editors for the Noticing Newbies Official Newsletter! I've been a member of Writing.com since 2003, and have edited more than 350 newsletters across the site during that time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email or the handy feedback field at the bottom of this newsletter!
It's almost November again, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us. Activities like the "October Novel Prep Challenge" are in full swing, and events like the "NaNoWriMo Write-A-Thon" are waiting in the wings to begin once the calendar rolls over to November 1st. For anyone who's not familiar with NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,0000 words during the month of November. That works out to roughly 1,667 words per day, and was originally a challenge to motivate aspiring authors to actually finish the novels they wanted to write.
Over the years, the definition of what constitutes a NaNoWriMo entry has evolved. The official nonprofit defines it as only a "lengthy work of fiction," but some go even further and also consider short stories, nonfiction, and even screenplays or blog posts as valid forms of writing. Some people consider rewrites, or continuation of existing words acceptable. For the "NaNoWriMo Write-A-Thon" , my annual fundraiser, the goal is just 50,000 new words for whatever medium and project you choose. The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it's meant to be a personal challenge with accountability and community components.
If you don't have a "lengthy work of fiction" you're particularly interested in pursuing this November, consider one of these other ways you can use the NaNoWriMo structure to help you achieve a writing goal:
Outline. If you don't have a specific novel you're working on for November, consider outlining or exploring a number of different options for your next work. Writing five different 10,000-word outlines for potential future books is the same 50,000 words as a single novel and it might help you figure out which of your ideas are viable and worth pursuing next.
Develop a writing habit. The NaNoWriMo challenge can be distilled down to 30 days of writing 1,667 words or more. If you're out of practice with writing or even just trying to develop a more consistent habit, why not use the month of November to work on developing your daily habit? You could respond to a variety of blog prompts, or even just journal. No one says the words you write have to be published, so why not take the opportunity to improve your writing habit?
Write more than one thing. If you have more than one project you're interested in, write both of them in November. Working on more than one project can give you something else to focus on if you get stuck on one project, and there's nothing that says you can't work on two "lengthy works of fiction" in the same month if that's what you're creatively interested in exploring. This option pairs nicely with...
Rewrite. Do you have a project you've been meaning to revise? Consider making that your NaNo project (or one of them). If you're genuinely writing new words (throwing stuff out, reworking it, etc.) rather than just editing what you've already written, that's a valid type of writing too. Maybe NaNoWriMo can help you finally get motivated to tackle those revisions you've been meaning to make.
Mix and match. Take any one or more of the above and combine them into a format that works for you! There have been years where I've wanted to focus entirely on a cohesive novel and tackle NaNoWriMo in a more traditional ways. There are other years where I've cobbled together 50,000 words from a variety of different areas. I've written a screenplay (usually about 20,000 words) as my main creative effort and then supplemented my word count with some original short fiction and journaling.
The bottom line with NaNoWriMo is to use it to actually write something. What that something may be is far less important that the fact that you're writing something. Unless you're participating in a particular activity that has specific requirements about what you can and cannot write during the month of November, take the opportunity to write what you want. Instead of letting NaNoWriMo dictate the expectations, use it to meet your own needs as a writer.
My sincere hope is that every writer reading this is able to make some productive use out of the month of November. Whether you're writing a novel or not, let's try to spend the second to last month of the year investing in our writing and having something to show for it at the end of the month.
Until next time,
If you're interested in checking out my work:
"New & Noteworthy Things" | "The Book of Jeff"
This month's official Writing.com writing contest is:
I also encourage you to check out the following items:
EXCERPT: “Are you sure you want to tackle this on your own?” Deanna asked her husband.
“I believe we can do a big part of the demolition and then we; I, will call the contractor.” Cameron reassured her as he picked up the sledge hammer and slammed it into the wall. The third swing created a hole big enough to see through. “Oh, there’s more room than I thought back there.” He told her excitedly as he swung with more gusto.
Deanna watched with growing anticipation as the hole grew bigger and bigger. “Wait!” She said with delight, as she ran up to the wall and grabbed a piece of the sheet rock and pulled it free, making a big enough space to get through. She squeezed herself into the new room. “There’s stuff back here, a hidden room.” She said as Cameron kept swinging the sledge hammer.
EXCERPT: What does love look like? It might be in the smile lines next to my father's crinkly eyes. It might be the warmth in his laughter when I told him about the latest mishap to befall his grandson. It might be the twinkle in his eyes when he told me that he was sure the cute nurse was definitely flirting with him. My father, David Michael Smith, was a passionate dreamer, a poetic optimist, and grandiose in nature.
EXCERPT: As she made her way home from school, Ana could hear, the cars passing by, the honking, the brakes squeaking, and the sudden rush of wind when the cars zoomed nearby. Ana had convinced her parents that she was old enough to walk home from school. She assured them that she would come straight home. They had enough to worry about without adding to it.
EXCERPT: There it was! Cassandra had it! After numerous attempts she finally got the formula right, she looked at the purple potion that fizzed in her glass, and with one gulp she drank the potion. It was going to give her magical charms, that she would now possess.
EXCERPT: Aza's avatar inched forward, crouched in formation with his squad. The hill loomed before them, a battered, bombed, bloody grim spectacle. The entire surface of the hill had been catastrophically disfigured. Limbs and metal intertwined, smoke rose from blackened craters. Here and there small fires continued to burn, fueled by violence. This is the work of a madman, Aza thought.
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Feedback from "Noticing Newbies Newsletter (September 21, 2022)" about when it's time to run your own activity:
Buddhangela, Ghost Of Coraline writes:
Great topic, Jeff! I created my first (only lol) activity six months into my membership, but not because I saw a void I wanted to fill. I'd begun toying with a writing project I wanted to create for myself and realized it was something that others on WdC might be interested in. In its first edition, the private group is small but the efforts have been beautiful. (For the curious, because this info sheet will be revamped for the May '23 ed., "The Not-Just-Spring-Cleaning Challenge" ) Cheers!
AmyJo - pumpkin eater writes:
Somebody has been reading my mail...LOL. I have been toying with an idea for a contest, and still coming up with a "rough sketch". Thank you for writing this article. And I am sure it is not an "if" but "when" deal.
I have several contests that I run. Three of them were established contests that were given to me. I have also started contests from scratch. Some have worked, and some have not. All of them are work to attract entrants and keep funded.
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