Thursday 27 January 2011

Writing: November Challenges

Why this month? Why not July? Why not February? Then again, February is the shortest month of the year and if we're going to undertake a writing assignment, having more days may be advantageous.

It would seem that the choice of this month out of the entire year owes a debt of gratitude to Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month (see my blog). For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is an annual event where participants set aside the month of November for the challenge of writing a fifty thousand word novel in just 30 days. That is apparently around 175 pages and works out to an average of 1,667 words a day.

According to the history of the organisation slash web site slash personal challenge by Mr. Baty, the selection of month number 11 dates back to 2000. 1999 was the first year for the exercise and it was held in July of that year. It seems this was an informal start with only 21 people and no web site to speak of. The next year, 2000, he explains that "the second NaNoWriMo ... had been moved to November to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather." This event had a web site and ended up with 140 participants some coming from Canada and other places further afield. The rest is history and November was reborn as a month for writing.

Over the years, NaNoWriMo has built up considerable momentum. From its humble start, this annual event has grown to a record 200,530 participants in 2010, up 20% from 2009’s total of 167,150. As an aside, there were 37,479 winners, up 16% from 2009’s total of 32,173 which gave the 2010 event an 18.6% win rate!

For those whose area of literary endeavour is the blog, we have NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month (see my blog) where the challenge is to post to your blog every day for an entire month. Eden Kennedy, founder of this event, explained how the humble start of the event has grown to the point where in January 2010, there were 16,000 people signed up. However I note that the increased response has changed the rules so NaBloPoMo has gone from just November to all months. You can sign up for any of the 12 months of the year to complete your full month of blog posts. Keeping that in mind, we are just about to start February, the shortest month of the year. If you're going to try your hand at a blog posting a day, this may be the month to do it!

Other November Challenges
It seems that other tests of literary perseverance have sprung up to offer a greater choice of just what gauntlet to pick up.

WNFIN: Write NonFiction In November
The web site shows the tagline "An Annual Challenge to Complete a Work of Nonfiction in 30 Days" and the About page explains:

This blog is one nonfiction writer’s response to National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), a contest that has fiction writers writing 50,000 words in 30 days during November. This blog challenges nonfiction writers to spend the month of November writing and completing a work of nonfiction. It also discusses nonfiction writing and provides a forum for nonfiction writers to comment on their writing experiences during November each year. This is not a contest!

WNFIN was created by Nina Amir, a self-professed journalist, author, nonfiction editor, consultant, and writing coach. It sets out the challenge to complete a work of nonfiction whether a book, e-book, booklet, book proposal, or even a series of articles or essays, but in the time limit of 30 days.

Unlike NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, this isn't a contest per se. One doesn't sign up; one treats this as a personal challenge following the site for online help. During the November, Ms. Amir presents a post each day written either by her or various guest authors covering the various aspects of writing and publishing nonfiction.

November PAD (Poem A Day) Chapbook Challenge
Robert Lee Brewer is the originator of this "informal" challenge. I say informal in that like WNFIN, you don't have to sign up; you just do it, although he says it is more fun if you post your daily poems on the web site. Mr. Brewer reminds us that this is all about fun and poeming. Ah, is "poeming" really a word?

The rules point to a slight variation in the previously mentioned challenges. One writes a poem a day during the month of November. In December, you revise and organise your work then submit the manuscript by January 5. The winner is chosen on Groundhog Day, Wednesday, February 2, 2011.

By the way, what does the word "chapbook" mean? I didn't know myself but found in Wikipedia that it refers to pocket-sized booklet containing poetry, religious material or the like. The word comes from the old term "chapman", a type of peddler.

PiBoIdMo: Picture Book Idea Month
Tara Lazar describes herself as "a children’s book author, mother, foodie and boogeyman assassin (currently booked at 3am nightly)". She writes a blog called "Tara Lazar: Writing for kids (while raising them)" and it is here that she started and continues this annual event:

Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo, I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers. The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript. You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

Those who manage to complete this task do not go unrewarded. Ms. Lazar promises that writers who complete the 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge will be eligible for prizes such as feedback from a literary agent, sketches by picture book illustrators, critiques from published authors and signed picture books.

Final Word
First of all, I should give a nod to one Julie Isaac for her article on November Writing Challenges. I had already run into NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo on my own but she introduced me to the three other month number eleven trials. Thank you, Ms. Isaac.

But good Lord, this woman wasn't satisfied with just committing to 30 days. No, she had really raised the flag by setting out the 100 Day Writing Challenge back in September 2010. Starting on September 23, she's asked participants to go the distance of 100 days in a row. Oh brother, here I am still trying to get my head around 30 days in a row!

Well, back to my computer. It looks like I have my work cut out for me and not just for the month of November!


my blog: NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month
my blog: NaBloPoMo: National Blog Posting Month
my blog: Writing: Less is more: the drabble
my blog: James Patterson
my blog: Assembly Line Writing
my blog: On Writing by Stephen King


Site Map: William Quincy Belle

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