Twist on National Novel Writing Month

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResNext year I may be ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This year, I’m focused on a rewrite of a non-fiction book, writing blog posts and writing copy for my website. It’s a lot of writing, and I admit I’ve been procrastinating.

The other week at a conference I attended, Michele Cook challenged members to participate in NaNoWriMo, even if it was to simply write each day of the month, which is exactly what I’m going to do. I’m clearing my calendar as I’m able. Some days I will write during my lunch hour. Other days, I’ll write in the evening. On a few days, I’m going to have to set my alarm clock to rise early and write. I’ve scheduled it all and noted what I plan to write. If I don’t do that, I’ll find a way to avoid writing.

Michele said she threw out the challenge to get some personal accountability. “Having someone else to answer to helps me stay motivated.” With a 7,000-word novel underway, Michele hopes to get a “solid first draft finished or close to it.” She expects she will need to keep writing past the Nov. 30 deadline to reach her 70,000- to 80,000-word goal.

Julie Campbell, who wrote “The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History,” isn’t focused on writing a novel. But she is going to use the month to write and polish an essay and then read it at a local event where she lives.

Diane S. Thieke, whom I met at a writer’s conference, is attempting to write a novel. She said, “I’ve attempted to NaNoWriMo five out of the last six years and failed to write my novel each time! Not an auspicious track record. In fact, my lifetime word count is abysmal — just under 6,000 words. But I keep coming back because I find it inspiring, and I’m convinced that one November, I will write 50,000 words. I’m a terribly inconsistent writer, and I’d like to change that. So this year, my goal is simple: to develop the habit of writing for myself every day. Even if I write just 50 words a day in November, I’ll consider it a success.”

I am inspired about NaNoWriMo, which began in 1999. On November 1, participants begin working toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Last year more than 384,000 people worked on their novels. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl are among the NaNoWriMo novels that have been traditionally published, according to the NaNoWriMo website.

Please post in the comment section whether you plan to participate and what your goals are. We can all use the encouragement and cheer for each other.

Spreading the Gospel of Blogging


Javacia Harris Bowser spreads the gospel of blogging. (Photo by Cynthia Price) 

Javacia Harris Bowser is always trying to spread the gospel of blogging.

She’s an ideal person to do that given her success with the platform. Southern Living named her one of the “Innovators Changing the South.”

Blogging, she says, can help you find

  • Your people
  • Your platform
  • Your practice.

She is the founder of See Jane Write, an organization for women writers and bloggers.

Bloggers can expand the reach of their blogs through email marketing, social media marketing and networking marketing.

When asking readers for their email addresses, it’s important for bloggers to give their readers a reason to share. She suggests creating something such as a guide for time management. When the person provides his email address, she provides the guide. Email marketing should be more about giving than taking. “You want to give your readers inspiration and valuable information,” she said.

As part of social media marketing, she recommends identifying one to two social media platforms on which to share the blog content.

Network marketing includes making smart talk, not small talk. One way to do this is to ask others about their passions. Always bring business cards that include the blog’s URL.

Bloggers also should focus on the 3 Cs: clarity, content and consistency. Javacia says bloggers should be clear about why they are starting a blog. Reasons may include for visibility and credibility or to share their work’s mission.

She suggests that bloggers produce content at least once a week. She also recommends using photos, videos and podcasts within blogs.

To consistently post, Javacia urged her audience to plan and produce content a month in advance.

Bloggers also must promote their posts through social media and email. She noted, “If you write it, they will come” simply won’t work.

Fall: The Perfect Time To Review Goals

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Scott Fitzgerald

In the last week, I’ve written a few thousand words, shredded documents, organized a room and decluttered a space.

20171007_110421Fitzgerald was right about the crispness of fall. It gives me both energy and a desire to ready my space for hibernating in the winter. That’s why now is the perfect time of year to look at your goals and see what progress you have made. Maybe you haven’t looked at your goals since you made them in January. Oops!

That’s okay, you have three months to either begin them and carry forward into 2018 or to finish them in 2017.

I’m on track with a few goals, but one has all but derailed. That’s my goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. A knee injury had limited me to almost no movement. I finally saw a doctor, who prescribed a treatment plan. I’m up to 5,000 steps a day, which is progress. Rather than berate myself for not making the other 5,000 steps, I’ve adjusted my goal and continue to monitor my progress.

My financial goals are on track, but this is the time of year I have to be careful. Sweaters entice me as do holiday sales. As a result, I aim to finish my holiday shopping by Nov. 1. I find it to be the only way to keep myself from being drawn into sales for things I don’t need to buy for me or others. While others search for parking spaces and fight the crowds, I’m hoping to be reading books from my book list.

As you think about what is important to you, think about how you might set a goal in that area. One of my friends said she wants to start giving back and is exploring where she might put in some volunteer hours.

As you review or set your goals make sure they are SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound (or trackable)

Another good tip is to set performance goals, not outcome goals. It’s important to have control over the goals. For example, my goal can be that I want to publish a novel. Unless I am self publishing, I’m not going to have much control over the publication of the novel. What I can control is how many pages or words I write each week and the steps I will take to find an agent and publisher.

Here’s to crisp fall days and meetings goals. I know I’ll reach one of my play goals – to jump in a pile of leaves!