Something strange happens on planet Earth in November. A literary fever of plague proportions infects the world’s bookworm population. It’s a writing pandemic I’m dubbing Global Frenzied Writing Fever.
Around the world, otherwise normal people will develop the dreaded Writing Rash. You can easily spot the afflicted. The fever is marked by glazed stares, strange mutterings, and ecstatic scribbling on any surface (cocktail napkins, ticket stubs, their offspring’s skin) –and by the toxic fumes rising from their abused keyboards.
Identifying the Frenzied Writing Bug
Here are the symptoms:
- A nagging sense that there’s a novel inside you waiting to be released. (This is usually accompanied by abdominal pain and protrusions in the shape of a hardback book).
- Itchy fingers that can only be soothed by typing or writing action
- Bizarre names and character details percolating in your brain when you should be doing other things (paying attention to the traffic, listening to your boss, finishing assignments)
- Hyperventilation at the sight of book stores or your favourite author’s image
- A blinding wave of jealousy at the news of a local 14-year-old getting a publishing contract for his epic Sci-Fi thriller (that started as a middle school science project). This symptom is usually followed by a wave of bleary-eyed hope. (If the pipsqueak can do it…)
- An inexplicable urge to purchase expensive stationery, particularly premium notebooks and a very nice pen
- A sudden dissatisfaction with your current computing equipment, which is almost always cured by heeding the overwhelming urge to install Scrivener software
- Hoarding of index cards, post-it notes, and packs of chocolate-covered peanuts
- Starry-eyed daydreams of 5-star reviews on Amazon, literary prize speeches, and publishing glory
Quick! Act Now!
Inoculate yourself now while there’s still time! Join a gym in November and set unrealistic weight loss goals. Take up macramé/Highland dancing/fencing. Do something now before the fever hits.
If the bug has already bitten…
If the symptoms listed above have already set in, you might as well harness their power for good. Clear your desk, crack your knuckles, and sacrifice a calendar month to an international writing event.
National Novel Writing Month is the granddaddy of them all. Since 1999, aspiring novelists around the world have set themselves the lofty challenge of banging out a 50,000 word novel in a calendar month. It’s quite a challenge to hit a word count of 1600+ words a day for 30 days straight.
If the prospect of penning a whole novel does your head in, you can still join the frenzy in November with these other activities.
Picture Book Idea Month may seem more achievable, but don’t be among those who mistakenly believe creating short kids’ books is easier than writing a novel. The economy of words and ideas, the interplay of images–the sheer elegance of picture books makes them an art form all their own.
Spend November brainstorming fun ideas. PiBoIdMo aims to generate an idea a day for a picture book. At the end of November, you’ll have a notebook full of ideas to develop or reject in 2015. There may be a winner or two in the mix!
How about a blog post a day for a whole month? Some prolific people do this already, so how hard could it be? Try 30 days of quality blog posts and find out. Like the other events, the community aspect is half the fun. Sign up, post, link, read–make new friends and find new followers.
Why, oh why, November?
Every year, I struggle with this question. The answer comes from Chris Baty himself, the founder of the event, who picked November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather” in San Francisco.
In Australia, November is a shocker for anyone (like me!) who has anything to do with schools. Assessments, deadline stress, graduation… Erg! Even in the US, November has its challenges, especially this year. The Thanksgiving long weekend falls on the last few days of the month, right when Nanowrimo-ers should be hammering toward the finish line, head down, arms reaching for The End. Not the best posture for enjoying a weekend of family togetherness.
Blogger Emily Winstrom suggested a few non-November options on The Write Practice blog. Here are two of them:
- The Ray Bradbury 52-Week Short Story Challenge gives you a year to improve your short story skills. Bradbury famously advised, “It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.” Join in any time!
- Pick your season and stake your own goal in the A Round of Words in 80 Days, which has four rounds in a year.
There you go. November is as good a month as any to write. Why not join the frenzy?
Over to You!
Share your favourite writing event in the comments.