November hosts the end of Daylight Savings Time, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, but if you’re a fiction writer this month hosts an even more important and exciting event. November marks the annual start of National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo. I am proud to say that in 2005, I was one of many winners of this 30-day contest. Winning simply requires that you turn in (and have counted) a 50,000-word (175-page) novel by midnight on November 30. The novel doesn’t have to be any good. In fact, the contest is all about quantity not quality, the idea being that you should shut your inner critic away in a closet in your mind for 30 days and simply write something — anything. The goal simply revolves around starting and to finishing a novel.
I bet you are wondering what happened to that novel of mine, right? Well, I pitched it to several agents at the San Francisco Writers Conference in 2005 and had them all interested, but they all turned it down. I even won the fiction pitch contest with my 25-word description of the book, and my prize lunch with two agents later landed me literary representation – but not for my fiction! I was told by to leave my fiction writing behind and focus on what I do best — non-fiction. (I took the agents’ advice.)
Which brings me to the point of this essay: For those of us who don’t write fiction (ever or anymore…), what are we supposed to do during the month of November? I say, “WE WRITE NON-FICTION!” I challenge you to join me in starting and finishing a work of non-fiction during the next 30 days. You can write an article, a booklet, a newsletter, or a book. Just write something. Whatever non-fiction writing project you’ve been putting off, get started now. No one will be looking over your shoulder. This is not a contest, and there’s no prize at the end other than the great feeling you will get from knowing you wrote every day and completed your “assignment.” No on is counting your words, nor does anyone care how many words you write (not even me). This is simply a challenge to write — and to not write alone. I’ll be writing every day, too, and hopefully some other people will be writing as well.
Plus, I invite everyone who is writing non-fiction during November and wants to share their experience to go to my new nonfiction writing blog (see link below) and post comments. I’ll be writing every few days about nonfiction writing in general – why I enjoy it, tips on getting published, how my writing is going, etc.
One of my first blog entries explained how my foray into fiction writing during the 2005 NaNoWriMo event actually renewed my love of nonfiction writing. While I loved the fun of writing fiction, which happened to be my childhood dream, getting away from nonfiction briefly gave me a new perspective on nonfiction and reminded me of what I enjoy about it so much.
I love nonfiction writing, because it allows me to explore subjects that are interesting to me and to then share them with others. As a magazine journalist and as a book author who likes to wrestle with issues in my life or subjects that excite me, I get to spend my days researching those very same issues and subjects, speaking to experts about them, finding answers and solutions to them, and coming up with ideas and theories related to them. Then, I get to craft what I’ve learned into a story – an article, essay or book — that offers what I’ve learned and discovered – and possibly even put to use successfully in my life – into a form that others can read. This then hopefully helps or excites them. I find this both stimulating and rewarding.
Nonfiction writing also proves useful to many people for many reasons. If you need to let people know about who you are and what you do, writing articles and books serves as a great way to promote yourself. Plus, once your articles appear in major magazines or trade journals or your book is selling at the back of the room when you speak or on Amazon.com or in bookstores, you achieve expert status.
So, November is here, and no matter why you want or need to write nonfiction, it’s time to start writing. Don’t worry about how good your writing is, just write. That’s the point of NaNoWriMo – to put your inner critic or inner editor in the closet while you write (or so you can write). Use the same principle for writing nonfiction in November. Don’t worry about the quality of what you are writing now; simply write and strive to meet the goal of finishing what you start. Editing happens later – after you’ve finished writing. In memory of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (and some really great fiction writing), imagine yourself as Scarlett O’Hara and think about editing later. You can do that in December. November is all about writing.
About Nina Amir
Nina Amir, a journalist/author, writing coach, non-fiction editor, and speaker has written several booklets, hundreds of articles and three anthology essays. She currently is writing several books while promoting them and herself with her writing. Visit her writing blog at at http://writenonficinnov.blogspot.com/. For information on her services, visit http://www.purespiritcreations.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-353-1943.