Friday, October 23, 2009
November revolves around writing, and, like the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated during this month, that's something for which to be grateful.
First, it was named National Novel Writing Month by Chris Baty, who began in 1999 with 21 San Francisco Bay Area friends writing a novel in 30 days. Of the 21, six of them succeeded that month in completing a novel, which they defined as 50,000 words—the length of The Great Gatsby. The following year, 140 people participated, and it's grown exponentially each year since. Today, over 100,000 people take up Baty's vision each year in November.
Then came PicoWriMo. Its origins are sketchy, seeming to come from a random post in a blog calling for a less ambitious undertaking for writers. Its rules entail writing a minimum of one word every day for a month. By the end of 30 days, the writer has a free-verse poem or a very short story.
Then, in 2007, Nina Amir began Write Nonfiction in November, a challenge to all those not wanting to write fiction at all to start and complete a nonfiction project in 30 days. She required no exact word count, just a completed project of some sort – an article, a book, an ebook, a book proposal, a query letter, an essay, etc. Unlike National Novel Writing Month, Write Nonfiction in November revolves around a daily blog written by Amir. The first year, she claims to have offered a "brain dump" of much of what she knows about nonfiction writing, editing and publishing. Last year, she asked guest bloggers to add their expertise to the 30-day-long blog. This year, she again has a roster of experts, including well-know autors and agents, to write 28 guest blogs and has added a forum for participants to chat together. Additionally, they can communicate by commenting on the blog posts. There remains no counter to check how many words participants write, and Amir has no plans to implement one. "This remains a personal challenge," she says.
With so much writing going on in November, Amir feels the time has come for someone to declare November "National Writing Month." So, she has decided to do just that. "It doesn't matter what we are writing – fiction or nonfiction. It just matters that we are all writing, and someone should honor that fact. November should be 'National Writing Month'," she claims.
Amir says has no idea how many people are writing nonfiction this year during November. "NaNoWriMo has a forums section that no has a NaNo Rebel area including a Nonfiction contingent that is writing nonfiction," she reported. "I know people read my blog last year both at its www.writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com location and on www.RedRoom.com. But I don't ask anyone to log in or sign up. I'm still building readership, but this past year I kept the blog going all year long with a monthly post."
Some writers involved in PicoWrimo also write nonfiction;this challenge takes place on www.livejournal.com.
Last year, Amir's blog, Write Nonfiction in November, which can be read at www.writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com, was featured beginning the week of November 17 for about 10 days at www.RedRoom.com, The Place for Writers, in the website's "Best Blog Series." She posts ever blog there in her personal blog there as well.
Amir concluded, "What I know is that November gets writers writing. That's the point. Initially, NaNoWriMo got fiction writers writing. I wanted to get nonfiction writers writing as well. Now that National Novel Writing Month, PicoWriMo and Write Nonfiction in November have been established, it just seems to make sense that we should declare November 'National Writing Month' and let the writing go on officially"
Other writing related events—both official and unofficial—include:
• National Card and Letter Writing Month (April and May)
• National Sketch Writing Month (September)
• National Travel Writer's Month (August)
• National Poetry Month – NaPoWriMo (April)
Los Gatos, CA