As participants’ fingers slow to a halt over keyboards and then hit the save and print buttons indicating the completion of their projects, the second year of the Write Nonfiction in November challenge and blog comes to an end. For those not ready to say “I’m done” quite yet, you’ve got until 11:59 p.m. to actually complete that project you began 30 days ago. At the stroke of midnight, however, Write Nonfiction in November officially comes to a close.
Wow! We’ve covered a huge amount of ground again this year. With the help of my guest bloggers, this blog has offered what one of my Red Room readers said was enough information for a college course! I’m not sure about that, but I do know that’s I’ve offered you plenty of suggestions about things you should be working on to improve your writing, promote your books, build your platform, create a media brand for yourself and your writing, develop a website and blog and Internet presence…and more. So, despite the fact that the blog has ended, the 30 posts from this month should provide you with amplefodder for the rest of the year. If you take the advice offered here this month and apply it for the next 11 months, you’ll not only stay busy until next November but come out ahead of the game in so many ways a year from now. And that’s what I suggest: Use these 30 posts as your “workbook” for the rest of the year. And then really do the work that my guest bloggers and I have outlined for you.
Given the increased readership and support the Write Nonfiction in November blog received this year, especially from Red Room, where the blog was featured in the “Best Blog Series for 10 days and gained a good number of fans, I plan to keep the blog – if not the challenge – going all year long. (Last year, the blog lay dormant most of the year, with the exception of a few times I felt I had something “newsworthy” to report upon.) This year, I’ll keep on posting “informative” blogs, especially since I know people visit Write Nonfiction in November all year long and read the posts. However, don’t expect a post every day. I intend to post only once a month (probably between the middle and end of the month), and I hope to include some guest bloggers during the year as well.
Without the challenge aspect, you will be missing the energy of Write Nonfiction in November the rest of the year, but no one should work at such a frenetic pace all the time (although some of us regrettably do). The challenge was meant to prove to you that you could, indeed, work quickly and get a lot done in a short amount of time if you set your mind to it. Without the Write Nonfiction in November challenge, you’ll have to find ways to generate your own desire and will power to start and finish nonfiction projects without knowing others are doing so along with you and without the deadline of a formal challenge or contest. That said, I know the lack of an outside deadline or accountability can pose the largest hurdle for a writer.
That’s why in this this last post of Write Nonfiction in November I’d like to focus upon how to “stick to it” – meaning your writing. A writing friend of mine and I were discussing how we manage to do a lot of things related to our writing, including helping other people get their books written, but we don’t actually write our own. This seems to be the complaint of many a writer. We are too busy building platform, trying to get paid assignments, networking to bring in new clients, promoting the last book, editing or writing our proposals, getting over the last rejection letter, or simply taking care of the details of our lives to actually write that article, book or essay. We have a great idea. We even get started writing, but we don’t finish. Or maybe we actually finish, but we don’t write the proposal or query letter. Or if we complete that phase, and then we don’t send the letter or proposal out to an editor or agent. Thus, our work stays forever in our own clutches rather than in that of some eager agent or editor at a publishing house or magazine – which means the only one reading our writing is…us.
Is that why we write? I don’t think so.
How do we actually stick to the whole process from start to finish and get our writing out into the world so it can be read? We all know this takes great will, courage, passion, determination, persistence, and drive – things we don’t always possess. We can do some things to help us develop these characteristics and follow through on the things necessary to get our writing out in to the world. I can offer 10 tips to help you stick to it and continue moving forward until next year when the Write Nonfiction in November challenge begins again.
In some cases the tips I’m going to offer represent a case of me “teaching what I most need to learn,” since I’m at fault of doing all those things mentioned above and not sticking to it myself. In other cases, my tips are tried and true provenpractices that have worked for me or that I’ve seen work for my clients. I encourage you to try one or two or try them all, but find at least one and commit to using it. I’ve heard best-selling author Wayne Dyer say, “Don’t die withyoursong still in you.” In this case, I’ll turn the statement around and say, “Don’t die – or show up next year – with your nonfiction project still in you.” Get it out! Use one or more of these tips to help you do so.
- Find an accountability partner. Find someone – another writer is best, but it can be anyone (preferablynota spouse or romantic partner) – to whom you can make an accounting each week, every two weeks or once a month. This is a person to whom you will make commitments, such as: “I will write and finish my query letter this week;” “I will have my proposal done by our next phone call;” “I will have sent out five proposals by our next meeting;” or “I will write five pages a day every day this month.” You can also offer them dates: “I will post six blogs by December 10th.” If you have a writing group, you can use the members of this group as your accountability partners.
- Get a freelance editor of book coach. When you are paying an editor, you are more likely to work hard at your writing and to try and finish your project in a timely manner. Plus, your editor may give you deadlines. Additionally, working with someone on your book or project keeps you motivated and focused. Often people hire a book coach to help them do just that and to give them monthly deadlines and make them accountable for a certain amount of work each month. If you really can’t stick to it alone, a book coach can help you stick to it all the way until the very end – a published project.
- Make writing and submitting work your #1 priority. Yes, we all need to build platform, promote ourselves and our books, make money, handle life’s demands, and answer email, but commit to making these things lower on your priority list. Make writing and submitting your work priority #1 by simply taking this task on first every day. Yes, first. Don’t look in your email box first. (This is a trap I fall into a lot, and I stay trapped there for several hours.) Don’t make those phone calls first. Don’t see who wrote on your Facebook “wall” and find a few more “friends.” Write first. Submit your writing first. Otherwise, if you make these tasks even priority #3 or #4, many days you won’t get around to accomplishing them. (Plus, many of these things – checking email and Facebook accounts – are simply great ways to procrastinate.)
- Use a reward system. This works for adults as well as for children. If need be, bribe yourself withareward for getting your writing and submitting done. Maybe your reward is a walk with a friend or a trip to Starbucks. Maybe it’s 30 minutes on Facebook or reading a book. Maybe it’s a pile of Hershey’s Kisses. It matters not what reward you receive as long as it’s something you appreciate and that will motivate you to do what you need to do to stick to your nonfiction writing and to the getting-published process.
- Try timed writings. If you feel like you just don’t normally have a lot of time to devote to any aspect of your nonfiction writing, take on the tasks in short bursts. Work on your essay for 15 minutes. Do one interview a day or a week for your article or book. Write one page of your proposal a day. Work on your news release for an article directory10 minutes every morning before the kids wake up. Research agents and publishers while you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Make time for what’s really important to you. By the way, timed writings are a great way to move through writer’s block.
- Blog your book or your essays.Many an author has been discovered via his or her blog. Plus, it’s a great way to write a book in short increments. Plus, bloggingseemsless intimidating than sitting down to write a whole book. Simply commit to writing three or four paragraphs of a post – or one screen – each day on the subject of your book and see where it goes. Have an outline of your book in front of you and stick to it as much as possible, but allow yourself to go with the flow of blogging. You’ll find writing much easier, and you’ll be publishing as you go! Or write on different topics that interest you, and when you write something particularly poignant or meaningful, edit that into an essay you can send to an editor at a print publication or an ezine. (Blogging also can serve as a great way to move through writer’s block; write fast and as if you are talking to a friend. That moves your through your block.)
- Keep you goal in mind. Remember why you chose to write this particular project and what you want to get out of writing, completing and publishing it. Who will it serve? How will it help? Why is it important to say what you have to say? Or simply remember the fact that your goal is to become a published writer. You can’t accomplish that goal if you don’t continually write and submit your work – and overcome the rejection of your work not being accepted by simply submitting yet again. You might want to create a “vision board” to remind yourself of this goal. A vision board consists of a poster board (or something smaller if you prefer) covered in pictures and sayings that represent your goal. It’s a visual reminder of what you desire to accomplish. Hang it in your office so you can see it whenever you look up from your computer.
- Acknoweldge and remember the greater purpose to your writing. Some writers feel the reason they write comes from a deep place within them…from their soul. It’s their soul’s purpose to write. If you feel this way, each time you sit down to “work,” remind yourself that you are not simply working, you are fulfilling your purpose here in the world. This may ring especially true for you if you are writing self-help, inspirational or human potential books.
- Move through your fear. Why do most writers not stick to their writing or to the submission process? They are afraid…afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, afraid of being seen, afraid of speaking their truth, afraid their families will disapprove of what they’ve written, afraid of being out in front of lots of people, even afraid of success. Here I get to be a life coach (if I haven’t been already) and say, you must simply move through your fear. Fear never helped anyone become successful. It only stopped them from achieving that which they most desired. My advice for moving through fear is simple: Each time you feel afraid, sit down at your computer and write or put together a submission packet. Susan Jeffers’ book title says it best, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”
- Plan your work, and work you plan. My son received this bit of advice the day before Thanksgiving in a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant. When I told him I was trying to decide what tip to offer as my last, he suggest this one. I agreed it could be more appropriate. Come up with a daily and weekly plan for your writing and for submitting what you write and then work that plan. Don’t deviate from your plan (unless it isn’t working). Decide when you will write and for how long. Then, do it. Give yourselves deadlines, and stick to them. Choose publications, editors, agents, and publishing houses that look promising, and then make a plan for when you will submit to them. Then, mail those submissions by those dates. Be your own worst boss…the one you are afraid of telling that you missed the deadline. And re-evaluate your work and your plan regularly – each day, each week, each month. Plan your work, and work your plan.
Thank you all for participating in Write Nonfiction in November 2008 – both participants, readers and guest bloggers. Please feel free to leave me comments about how your projects this month have panned out or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to simply hear from you or to answer questions. Also, if you have topics you’d like to suggest for future blog posts during the year of during next November, please send them along.
If you’d like more information on me or my services, please check out my website at www.ninaamir.com.
I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and learning from my guest bloggers. If you did, too, please don’t forget to cast a vote for Write Nonfiction in November as one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers by going to email@example.com. Write “101 Best Websites” in the subject line. Then, place the link to this blog – www.writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com – in the body of the email. If you want to add why you like the blog and the challenge, that’s helpful. If not, just send the link.
And come back next year for the 2009 challenge and next month for a little taste of what we experienced here during the past 30 days. Thanks again for joining me.
Happy and productive nonfiction writing!