Happy November, folks!
For the next thirty days, there will be millions of writers across the globe drilling away at their keyboards (or filling up several notebooks, if they’re into longhand)! If you listen closely enough, you might be able to hear the clickety-clack of typing already.
Yes, November is a very active month for the writing community. Because we’ve got several challenges going on.
November is most popularly known as, of course, National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to:
Write a novel, approximately 50, 000 words in length, within the thirty days of November.
It’s best to keep in mind that NaNoWriMo is just a way to get the words on the page. (It has its shortcomings.) The completed work still needs revision, critiquing, editing – there’s a lot that goes behind a well-written novel. We have to flesh out settings and characters, make the most out of every scene… There’s a reason some writers take several years to get just one done.
A lot of people plan/outline their novels in advance and do the writing part during November. Others prefer seat-of-the-pants writing.
Some do it to bust writer’s block. Your NaNoWriMo novel may be terribly written, but at least you’ve written something. You can go by what Katherine Mansfield said,
Better to write twaddle, anything, than nothing at all.
Some people take up the challenge purely on whim – just to see if they can do it.
And that’s precisely the spirit with which I took up the November Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge for the first time a couple of years ago! Mr. Brewer hosts it over at Poetic Asides and it’s a lot like the April Poem-a-Day challenge, only that this time since it’s a Chapbook challenge, participants write their November poems around a specific theme.
When I first attempted the November PAD Challenge, I didn’t have any theme in mind, and even now Mr. Brewer does mention that it’s not an absolute necessity. But two successful November PADs later, I feel like I’m ready to take up that bit of the challenge as well!
NaBloPoMo is another interesting November event – the National Blog Posting Month Challenge. Participants all over the blogosphere have probably posted about this by now. The challenge is to make at least one blog post every day, during November.
The crux of the three challenges is the same.
Write a lot.
Write every day.
Two out of three challenges (the November PAD and NaBloWriMo) demand that you write every day. And most NaNoWriMo participants try to write every day because 50, 000 words more doable with daily writing.
As a result, you’ll challenge yourself.
The first few pages or poems or posts may be easy enough, but after a while you’ll hit a block. That’s the challenge. To keep at it is the promise you’ve made to yourself when you make the commitment.
And finally, by the end of it all, you get stuff done.
By the end of the month, you have a decent output to work with:
- poems around a specific theme to polish, edit, compile into a chapbook and perhaps publish
- thirty blog posts that you wrote and published online within a month
- fifty thousand words/a novel that you managed to get written, ready for editing
Writers just have to take their pick – go with whichever challenge you think suits your genre/style best and give it a shot! Maybe you’ll try two at a time, or all three, if you want to.
Of course, you may not want to take up any of the challenges. You may not have the time. Or you have other priorities. But you could always surf the net — writing blogs effuse inspiration in November. Come up with a different challenge for yourself: write (at least a little) every day; complete a short story or a collection of some kind; give yourself a challenge, try new genres and styles. Whatever you’d like.
Be a part of the fervor.
Friday Reflections: News
Before you leave, here’s a prompt (based on my first poem of the month) to get you going in case you haven’t written your first November challenge page/post/poem:
You could write about what you heard on the the 6 o’clock news, you could write about sports news, the news paper; maybe someone in your family told you some good/bad news today. Maybe your best friend’s adoption request got approved. Maybe your cousin landed his dream job. Maybe your daughter made the basketball team. Maybe you could write about how or why you would be in a news headline – maybe in a supplementary paper, maybe for an interview. You could write about a journalist or columnist.
You could write about a character who collects snippets of news. That could transform into fiction — maybe he or she collects snippets about specific incidents or crimes, maybe he or she was involved in them somehow. Or trying to solve them!
Maybe hearing about NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo or the November PAD Challenge was news to you!
Have you ever picked up the morning paper and frowned at the headlines – not because it’s devastating or depressing, but because it’s irrelevant? Sometimes newspapers print advertisements on the front page or report something relatively unimportant (perhaps about celebrities, where maybe news about the latest political or economic developments are due?). And then there’s always the debate about whether newspapers report the truth as is or sensationalize it.
My first November PAD Challenge poem considers an outsider’s perspective on a news report (such as myself) in contrast with the perspective of someone who had been involved in the very incident reported.
Go ahead, get started with your November writing. All the best to writers everywhere! And most importantly: happy writing!