National Novel Writing Month began as an agreement between 20 people in the San Francisco area in 1999. They each promised to produce a novel-length work within a month. Since these beginnings, NaNoWiMo has grown into an annual international writing challenge to produce a 50,000-word draft of a novel between November 1 and November 30.
“We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.”
The key insights of NaNoWriMo are that 1) public accountability helps people stick to their goals and 2) with social support and game-like conventions, work can be fun. Today, this approach has found its way into many spheres of life, particularly in the “gamification” of fitness and education. This year, several other writing challenges borrow their structure and timing from NaNoWriMo.
Robert Lee Brewer has announced a poem-a-day challenge for the month of November. “[P]oets who share their poems in the comments of each post create a community that lives beyond the actual challenge. That’s incredibly important for the lonely poet.”
DigiWriMo, or Digital Writing Month, is a writing challenge for bloggers or others seeking to create digital works. Sponsored by Marylhurst University, DigiWriMo promises “exercises to bend your brain, break your habits, and basically rock your writing world” with the goal of spurring 50,000 words of online writing. Follow Digi the Duck on Twitter for updates.
Featured today on Profhacker, Academic Writing Month (formerly Academic Book Writing Month) is a 30-day writing challenge for researchers sponsored by PhD to Published, an advice blog for early-career academics. This challenge doesn’t set a word count goal for all participants, allowing everyone to set their own “crazy goal”, whether it be in terms of words or pages written, amount of time spent writing, or some other unit with which to measure success. The only criteria is that the goal be a challenge, something to stretch your usual habits or levels of productivity. Follow the hashtag #AcWriMo on Twitter for updates.
To get started, here is some advice from Charlotte Frost:
Draft a strategy. This is essential if you’re going to make a success of this. Sitting down to write without preparation is the first step towards being struck down with writer’s block.
Surrounding yourself with like minded people is a very powerful source of inspiration.
and Inger Mewburn:
…#acwrimo encourages you to make a schedule; to put aside time to work on your writing and declare it a distraction free zone from social media and email. By making a public declaration you, in effect, sign a pledge. Like declaring you will stop smoking or lose weight, a public pledge helps other people to understand that you are taking your commitment seriously.