What’s A Nonfiction Writer Supposed to Do In November?

Just as retail stores begin stocking shelves with holiday fare at least a month prior to the actual holiday, writers begin hearing about and preparing for National Novel Writing Month, fondly called NaNoWriMo, in September or October although the contest begins November 1. That’s all well and good for fiction writers who want to write 50,000 words in 30 days to “win” and who enjoy the build up, but what about the nonfiction writers left out in the cold? What’s a nonfiction writer supposed to do in November?

Guest column by Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation Coach, who inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. The author of How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), Nina has also self-published 10 short books. A sought after editor, proposal consultant, book and author coach, and blog-to-book coach, Nina’s clients’ books have sold upwards of 230,000 copies and landed deals with top publishers. She is the founder of Write Nonfiction in November and writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction NOW!, How to Blog a Book, and As the Spirit Moves Me. Sign up for a free author, book or blog-to-book coaching session with Nina or receive her 5-Day Published Author Training Series by visiting www.copywrightcommunications.com. Find out more about Nina at www.ninaamir.com and follow her on Twitter at @NinaAmir.

I asked myself this question in October 2007, a year after I participated in NaNoWriMo. (Yes, me…the nonfiction queen…a NaNoWriMo “winner.”) Searching around in the NaNoWriMo forums, I discovered NaNoRebels. Hah! That might be fine for some nonfiction writers, but not for me. I have a rebellious nature, but I wanted to participate in a legitimate manner.

So, I gave birth to Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN), aka National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). Unlike its fiction counterpart, NaNonFiWriMo—a mouthful, I know (I personally prefer WNFIN)—is not a contest and offers no word-counting mechanism to deem anyone a winner. It’s a personal challenge conducted on the honor system to start and finish a work of nonfiction in 30 days—any work of nonfiction. If you meet your goal, you get the personal satisfaction of knowing you did so—and a manuscript, or maybe several manuscripts, with which to pursue publication.

Also unlike NaNoWriMo, NaNonFiWriMo offers its participants a way to learn about writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction via a blog. The first year, I produced a huge brain dump of everything I knew on these topics, which resulted in 27 days of blog posts. When November rolled around the next year, I enlisted help—27 expert guest bloggers. I wrote the three remaining posts. I also wrote an introduction to each post. I have done that every year since. As of 2009, a sister blog, Write Nonfiction NOW!, took over the other 11 months of the year challenging nonfiction writers to continue writing nonfiction all year long.

Want to participate in NaNonFiWriMo this year? Here’s a sampling of the types of nonfiction projects you might start and finish in 30 days during the challenge:

Write 1-30 essays:

Churn out as many personal essays as you can muster or aim for one a day.

Write 1-30 queries:

Since you land article assignment with query letters, write 30 query letters.

Write 1-30 articles:

Write short articles—magazine shorts, op eds, ezine articles—or one long piece to promote your book or build platform.

Write 30 blog posts:

Knock out 30 blog post to get your blog up and running or give an existing blog new life. Or blog a book—a series of blog posts intended as content for a book manuscript.

Write 1 memoir or life story:

Plot out your time line, figure out your story arc and dive in! Commit to a first draft by November 30.

Write 1 nonfiction book (or more):

Write a short book or a full-length book. Here are 8 short nonfiction book formats that allow you to easily start and finish a book—maybe two—in a month.

  1. Tip Book: features a list of 10-101 tips. Some tip books simply offer a long list of tips with many per page; each tip might be just a sentence long. Or you can include a paragraph or two of explanation per tip.
  2. List Book: includes 10-101 things a reader needs to know on a subject. Each item might include a short informative essay to go with the item on the list. (Think “101 Ways to…”)
  3. Quotation Books: features 25-30 quotations on a theme plus a paragraph or two that elaborates upon the sentiments expressed.
  4. Rx Book: offer guidance or direction on a particular topic; also known as prescriptive nonfiction.
  5. Anthology: includes solicited content from other experts.
  6. One Big Idea: discusses one idea in depth.
  7. Q & A Book: a book that answers your potential readers’ most common questions.
  8. A booked blog: repurposed content from your blog.

Write a book proposal:

Like a query letter, this document will land you a book deal and requires that you complete at least two chapters of your book.

No “real” requirements exist to participate in NaNonFiWriMo. You can, however, go to www.writenonfictioninnovember.com and click on the 2012 participants’ page. Then leave a comment with information on your project. You can come back and leave updates on your progress on the same page, or you can chat with other participants by “liking” the Write Nonfiction in November Facebook page and leaving your project updates there.

If you’re a nonfiction writer, this November, don’t hide in the dark NaNoRebel forum. Come into the light. Take the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.


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