As November nears, a challenge approaches. It’s for those who want to write, but haven’t set aside the time. For genealogists with stacks of neglected research files – expensive dust-catchers unless data is compiled into something that is more readily digested. And for authors whose sights are set on winning a writing competition. Start winning by writing. Not today. But very soon.
What kind of a challenge?
Every November, National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, becomes a nearly daily exercise in the lives of willing participants. The object is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. Authors track word count and progress on their NaNoWriMo page. To average 1,667 words a day there is little room for editing as you write. Most participants postpone editing until December or later.
What do novels have to do with genealogy? Why not a novel, if you have one rattling around in your head? The spirit of the month-long writing exercise is to produce a fictional work. I prefer novel writing each November, because I rarely do things that are not genealogy-related. Escape is good.
There is a rebel NaNo group, and while they promote fiction writing, some admit to writing anything from a thesis to a history book. I know participants who produce genealogy works while using the NaNoWriMo site as an area of virtual accountability. It is a place to add writing buddies, encourage one another, or find a gentle reminder to develop a daily habit.
A daily habit that promotes productivity and improves writing skills is good for people engaged in an avocation or a vocation in which clear writing is important.
To participate in NaNoWriMo, visit their website and create a user profile. Create your novel by giving it a title. Writing begins on November 1st. Advance planning is allowed. Choose a project, or even several. Stack needed files nearby. Create an outline. Read relevant writing guidebooks. Watch the clock, and on November 1st, let the words flow. Use a word-processing program, or even pen and paper. The NaNo site provides a tool to update word count at the end of a writing session. Authors are on the honor system. At the end of November, or when the 50,000 word goal is reached, validate word count by pasting the written work into a tool on the site.
Do you have a novel brewing inside? Or are you a rebel who wants to write a month’s worth of blog posts? Does putting together a case study appeal?
Give yourself the gift of a writing month. On average, I spend about an hour per day on NaNo writing. Days get skipped, and others make up for them. Some days are naturally wordier than others.
I am aiming for my fourth year of “pantsing” it, meaning I do not outline in advance. I start with an idea and I see what happens when it flows from my fingertips to the keyboard. A lot of horrible stuff appears. Wonderful things happen, too. Editing is for later. November is for writing. 50,000 words of it.
Are you in?
A variety of writing and genealogy standards books are listed below. Find additional writing guides at your local library.
The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well
The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case
Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition
No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises for Planning Your Best Book
Producing a Quality Family History
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
Structuring Your Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Building Strong and Successful Stories
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer