Many writers require inspiration to write. Others are disciplined and write daily. Whatever type we are, we could benefit from goals, productivity, and discipline. That’s why there are writers challenges.
One could arguably say that writers challenge season starts in November. the writers challenges includes monthly contests full of daily prompts and online networking for writers from around the world. Most of the limelight goes to National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo). In fact, at a writing presentation I did recently one Peruvian student asked if I was participating in NaNoWriMo 2012.
Well, because we don’t all write novels– or even fiction for that matter– we have options, I answered. Here are a few:
- National Nonfiction Writing Month, or WNFIN
- National Playwriting Month (#NaPlWriMo)
- National Book Blogging Month (#NaBoBloMo), held in April.
- National Travel Writing Month (#NaTraWriMo), held in January. Goal: send out a pitch or query every day
- Southeast Review Writers Regimen is held four times annually, in coordination with the release of each issue of SER
During last year’s season, I participated in NaNoWriMo, the SER Writers Regimen in December, National Travel Writers Month, then Robert Lee Brewer’s April challenge (#MNINB) to build an author’s platform.
This year instead of trying to formulate my nonfiction goals and need through NaNoWriMo 2012, I’ll focus on NaNonFiWriMo. Likely some literary question will snag me along the way but there are answers. After all, host Nina Amir’s web site will feature daily “blog posts written by experts in writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction of all sorts.”
No, I won’t be completing my book. Yes, I will be progressing through it. Unless you’re Henry Miller, writing 50,000 words in 30 days is tantamount to assembly line quality production. That’s what publishing editors are oft quoted as saying in online zines such as Salon or Slate, anyway. Perhaps that a result of those writers fiercely competing over something as trivial and anti-literary as word count.
However, other writers approach NaNoWriMo in earnest, in a manner carefully planned. Some have learned several literary lessons or otherwise grown as a writer since last year’s challenge. Many have painstakingly drawn out a plan that even New Urbanists would approve of.
My plan is, as I mentioned earlier, to take a major leap forward in my book. I had a mini literary breakdown that I refuse to call writers block in July that kept me stalled at the writers red light until just a couple weeks ago. My reemergence appeared suddenly as a buoy released from an underwater hold, and I penned an outline of the next three chapters of my book. My goal for November, the commencement of writers challenge season, is to flesh out those three chapters. That will complete the first section of my book, after which perhaps I’ll address another section for the December challenge. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
These challenges are marathons. They require perseverance, not quick creative bursts. They’re learning experiences. They’re fantastic opportunities to meet new writer friends. Better still, they force you to sit down and bloody well write.
In case you’re still not inspired to participate, or even to rite for a few moments, how about a word from Annie Dillard?
- ‘(The writer) must have faith sufficient to impel and renew the work, yet not so much faith he fancies he is writing well when he is not. For writing a first draft requires from the writer a peculiar internal state which ordinary life does not induce.’
- ‘A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. As the work grows, it gets harder to control…You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly afraid to open the door to its room.’
Find out what others are saying about NaNoWriMo 2012.