Monday, November 1, 2010

No NaNo? No Problem: 5 Other Ways to Put 1667 Words-a-Day to Work

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo. 
One month. One big, fat rough draft.
It brings writers and wannabe writers from all over the globe together in an effort to bring brand new groundbreaking, fun, interesting, entertaining novels to the world.
Or, it gives those who have toyed with the idea of "maybe" trying to write something a deadline and a goal.

However it happens, it begins the process, and writers start to get the words down. And they start off with a shot, if the sluggishness of the NaNoWriMo site is any indication. As of 11 AM Central Time, there were already over 800,000 words drafted in the name of speedy-noveling (that's almost as much as 2 copies of War and Peace!)

Now, you may be able to use the month of November and NaNoWriMo as inspiration to finally get some work done on that novel that you have mapped out, created character sketches for, have oodles of research at the ready--everything is done except for the actual story. Go for it!

However, for some writers, the idea of "No Plot, No Problem" and just writing to fill up lines on a page seems like a waste of time. Why spend hours on something that may end up unfinished, unedited and forgotten by the time you are eating your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers?

For you, I have some suggestions for the "NaNo" Allotment of 1667 words a day. Enjoy.

  • Write 2-3 blog posts. You know you should keep up on your blog. It is vital to your online presence, an important way to keep in touch with your readers, and it provides self-imposed deadlines for your writing. Prepare your blog posts and set them up to post on based on your schedule (whether that is once a week, three times a week, twice a month-- it is important to stay consistent). I do not know of a blogging program that does not offer scheduling, so take advantage!
  • Write Short or Flash Fiction. Granted, short stories can be more difficult for some than longer works, but if you are going to write 1667 words a day, there is no better way to get the skeleton of a great short story fast. Once you have that, you can spend the next writing day giving it a body. By the third writing day, you may have enough meat on your short story to consider submitting it. All this in the time you may have spent wandering in circles with a novel that "may or may not" end up being "around" 50,000--80,000 words. The shorter fiction has given you a more concrete destination, so you have arrived at "Point B" without the aimless meandering. In my monthly contest listing, The Scoop, there are always contests or markets for short works.
  • Dig out Last Year's NaNoWriMo. Or the one from the year before. If you are still thinking about your unfinished novel, use your 1667 word-time to keep writing it! Start from where you are. You already have 25,000 words from last year? Add to them. Yes, these are not the official "rules" of NaNoWriMo, but you do not need any-body's rules to work on your own writing! If you would like to make a public announcement about your attempt to finish your novel in November, check out Fin-Yoda-Nomo. No, it's not about the end of a Finnish Star Wars character (Do or do not. There is no try.) It's about "Finishing Your Danged Novel Month".
  • Write Nonfiction. All of your creative writing buddies are in la-la land writing their novels, but you want to stay in the realm of reality. Use November to finish the book that will prove you are in expert in your field, write about a fascinating time in your city's history, or maybe even start your memoir. You may already have much of this written. As Nina Amir states on her site, "Write Nonfiction in November", you can use your blog posts and articles to start putting your book together.
  • Journal. Has your writing turned into a chore? Are you more concerned with word counts, contracts, and marketing that you've forgotten why it is you began to love writing in the first place? Get back in touch with your creative self, without expectations about completing, submitting, or selling anything. A few paragraphs at night, reminding yourself what you are grateful for; a few pages in the morning, free-writing to discover the hidden inspiration; a few lines in the middle of the day, an outline for a larger work to come. Hopefully, by giving yourself this gift, your other writing (and possibly even your NaNo Novel) will begin to flow freely.
This, I think, was the idea behind NaNoWriMo in the first place. To be creative without paying attention to boundaries. So, whether you create this month by tracking your word count graphically or by the number of submissions you make to markets, good luck, and happy counting*!


  1. *This post was about 900 words, if you were counting;)

  2. I'm definitely going to use this advice to clean up some of my submissions/create more submissions for different places and push the boundaries on my schoolwork.

  3. Thanks for mentioning Write Nonfiction in November. Of course, it is a challenge to start and finish a work of nonfiction in 30 days, but no one is counting words. And the point is to turn out "good" words--possibly even polished words ready for publication. A deadline always pushes a writer. Plus, the WNFIN blog offers tons of great info--as does your blog!

  4. These are great ideas! It's a good idea to have alternatives to Nano!


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