Just Do It: Start and Finish Your Nonfiction Project in 30 Days

Write a nonfiction book in NovemberIt’s almost the end of October. To some writers that means it’s time to don a Halloween costume. For many, it means it’s just about time to write-a-book-in-a-month. A bit like throwing on running shoes and deciding finally to start that exercise routine (or run a marathon), they move to their computers and begin writing daily to churn out a book before November 30th. Doing so means they’ve crossed the finish line.

November offers all types of writers a chance to focus on completing a project in 30 days. As one of my blog readers, I hope you plan to take part in the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (NaNonFiWriMo), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (WNFIN). The WNFIN Challenge does not require that you write a book. You can write any type of nonfiction. However, it’s a great time to complete the draft of a nonfiction book, including an academic or textbook, a prescriptive nonfiction book, a memoir, or a short book of some sort.

It’s also a superb time to learn about writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction. Starting November 1, you will discover a post per day published here by a variety of experts. Each one is meant to inspire and inform you on your journey to successful authorship.

Why Write a Book in a Month?

But why bother writing a book in a month—or anything in a month? Simple. It encourages you to get it done. It’s your chance to push your self to start and finish a project FAST!

As I mentioned in my last post, only two percent of the 258,500,000 or so American who say they want to write a book ever do. That makes the problem pretty obvious. Many people possess book ideas, but few write them.

(Does that describe you?)

There are lots of reasons why they don’t follow their dreams of becoming writers and authors. For instance:

  • They feel overwhelmed by the task.
  • They are afraid.
  • They don’t know how.
  • They don’t make time.
  • They feel unworthy or not good enough.
  • They don’t make this goal a priority.
  • They aren’t motivated or inspired enough to take action.

(Can you relate?)

When it comes right down to it, they…and maybe you…don’t “Just do it,” as Nike recommends. You don’t have anything or anyone to inspire and motivate you to start that project and to continue on until the last word has been written.

How a 30-Day Writing Challenge Gets You to Write

However, when faced with a challenge and given a deadline, most of us are more likely to do what we say we want to do and set out to do. This becomes even truer when we have others participating with us.

While thousands of people participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the fiction counterpart to NaNonFiWriMo, each year, even a smaller events like NaNonFiWriMo offer group energy and accountability. It has a forum and Facebook group where participants can gather and support each other. Knowing others are “in it” with you helps you move forward so you have a higher likelihood of completing your project. And that’s the point—and the challenge—to start and to finish.

Not only that, a month-long writing event makes you feel accountable—as if you must finish, and accountability is one of the best ways to encourage achievement of any type of goal. Because you’ve told others you are participating, such as friends and family or even the people in the forum or Facebook group, you develop a stronger sense of failure if you don’t cross the finish line. You want to avoid that feeling, so you push yourself to complete your project. Then, like everyone else (or the majority of the participants), you can say you achieved your goal.

Plus, the short time frame—just four weeks—provides you with the sense that you can do it. You aren’t signing up for a year of writing. You are only sacrificing time and putting in effort for 30 days. So you are more likely to do so. You give things up and put time and energy into getting the book, article or essay written. It may just be a first draft, but that’s more than you had before. And that feels great!

That feeling of accomplishment can be just what you need to continue writing all year long. Or it might be the impetus you need to get you to take your November project all the way—to an agent, a publisher or the editor of a publication.

That’s why so many people get their books written in November during these events. And that’s why so many people participate. You could be one of them…this could be your year to finally follow your dream.

Prepare for Your November Writing Event

If you want to take advantage of one of these writing events, make sure you prepare. Succeeding at your 30-day writing challenge is important; it lifts your self-esteem and gives you the confidence to pursue other writing projects. Therefore, don’t set yourself up for failure by not having done anything to ensure you are ready when you start to write on November 1.

Here are eight ways to prepare for a 30-day writing challenge so you increase your chances of success:

  1. Plan out your nonfiction book (or project) in advance.
  2. Do your research prior to the start of the event so you can just write.
  3. Know how much time you need each day to meet your goal.
  4. Schedule writing time daily (or at least six days per week).
  5. Create a space conducive to writing.
  6. Find ways to cut out distractions when you write.
  7. Find a writing buddy or buddies.
  8. Take care of yourself physically so you have the energy to make it from Day 1 to Day 30 of the challenge.

For additional preparation tips specific to writing a nonfiction book in a month, read 8 Ways to Prepare to Write Your Nonfiction Book in a Month, a guest blog post I wrote for the Writer’s Digest blog.

Also don’t disregard #8. Your energy and ability to focus depend to a great extent on the number of breaks you take, what you eat, how you hydrate, and if you exercise. Additionally, your mindset and habits are enormously important. You need to adopt those used by successful people, most of whom are high performers. For more information on this topic, read this post: 10 Habits to Help You Become a High-Performance Writer. Also consider participating in High-Performance Writer: How to Produce More Content quickly, Easily and Consistently, which starts Oct. 30. It was created with the 30-day-writing-challenge in mind and is the perfect way to stay motivated and inspired and learn the habits and mindset of a highly productive writer.

Take the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge

Then…Just do it! Write a nonfiction book, article or essay during the month of November. Take the WNFIN Challenge…get that writing project done fast! Start on November 1!

To participate, register for WNFIN/NaNonFiWriMo. It’s free… It’s not a contest, and no one counts your word. This is about you taking a personal challenge. When you register you gain access to the WNFIN Forum. You also can participate by liking the WNFIN Facebook page, but this does not put you on the mailing list for the event. That means you might miss out on important communications about contests and such.

That’s right. Challenge yourself to finally get that book (or article or essay) written.

And learn while you do! Take advantage of the 30 days of expert guest blog posts on craft, how to write a nonfiction book in a month, publishing, book marketing and platform building, and creating a business around your book.  This year’s contributors include:

  1. Michael Gelb, author and creativity expert
  2. Marcia Riefer Johnston, author and writing craft expert
  3. Toni Robino, ghostwriting expert
  4. Dr. Roberta Temes, author memoir expert
  5. Kristen Eckstein, author and Indie publishing expert
  6. Kelly James-Enger, author and freelance writing expert
  7. Zac Petit, author and freelance writing expert
  8. Philip Gerard, author and creative nonfiction expert
  9. Gordon Warnock, literary agent
  10. Katharine Sands, literary agent
  11. Regina Brooks, literary agent
  12. Eliza Tutellier, acquisitions editor
  13. Carla Douglas, book editing expert
  14. Holly Brady, self-publishing expert
  15. Carla King, author and self-publishing expert
  16. Corina Koch MacLeod, book editing expert
  17. Tom Corson-Knowles, Kindle publishing expert
  18. Stephanie Chandler, self-publishing and marketing plan expert
  19. Frances Caballo, social media marketing expert
  20. Joan Stewart, PR and publicity expert
  21. D’vorah Lansky, book marketing expert
  22. Jeff Brown, podcasting expert
  23. Ellen Britt, online marketing expert
  24. Patricia Fripp, public speaking expert
  25. Joel Friedlander, blogging and self-publishing expert
  26. Denise Wakeman, online visibility expert
  27. Kathleen Gage, online business expert
  28. Bob Jenkins, online marketing expert
Write a Book in a Month Any Time

You can create a 30-day writing challenge for yourself at any time of the year. You don’t have to do it in November just because so many others do it then.

I know… We are heading into the holiday season (at least those of us who live in the U.S.). It’s a busy time… But ask yourself, “Is that just an excuse?” How often have you put off starting and/or finishing a writing project for some reason or another?

If you don’t think it’s an excuse, and you feel the need to do your month-long writing challenge at some other time of the year, be sure you:

  • Gather some friends so you don’t do it alone and the challenge becomes more fun and gets the higher energy of the group.
  • Add in an accountability element—a deadline as well as someone who you report to about your progress.

If you possibly can, though, “Just do it!” Write nonfiction in November. Don’t finish out the year with your message still inside you and your 2013 goal or resolution (Remember back on December 31 when you resolved to write your book this year?) still unmet. Start your nonfiction project on November 1…and finish it by November 30. Then apply what you learn and your new-found sense of accomplishment to your other writing projects the rest of the year and into 2015.

Register for National Nonfiction Writing Month/the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge here

WNIN-logonarrowAre you ready to take the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge?

Join hundreds of other nonfiction writers for National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). Start AND finish a work of nonfiction in 30 days. Learn more here or register and get access to the forum here.

Ensure you start AND finish your NaNonFiWriMo project. Register for High-Performance Writer and discover strategies to help you produce more content quickly, easily and consistently. Starts Oct. 30.

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