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, I 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. I 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 myself and guest bloggers. The first year, I offered a “brain dump” of much of what I knew about nonfiction writing, editing and publishing. Last year, I asked guest bloggers to add their expertise to the 30-day-long blog; this year the blog again will be written almost primarily by expert guest bloggers. Up until now Write Nonfiction in November offered no forum for participants, but this year one has been added. So, participants can not only comment on blog posts but also chat with each other. However, there remains no counter to check how many words participants are writing – nor will there ever be one. This remains a personal challenge simply to start and finish a work of nonfiction.
With so much writing going on in November, I feel the time has come for someone to declare November “National Writing Month” So, I’m doing just that. It doesn’t matter what we are writing – fiction or nonfiction. It just matters that so many writers are all writing during a focused period of time, and someone should honor that fact. November should be ‘National Writing Month. So, I declare it as such.
How many writers write nonfiction during November each year is anyone’s guess. NaNoWriMo has a forums section that has a NaNo Rebel area including a nonfiction contingent that writes nonfiction. People read the Write Nonfiction in November blog 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. Some writers involved in PicoWrimo, a challenge that takes place on www.livejournal.com, also write nonfiction.
What I do 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.
By the way, other writing related events—both official and unofficial—that I’ve found 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)
Don’t forget to check back in on November 1st for the beginning of the Write Nonfiction in November challenge!