Every year on October 31st, I feel the spirits get activated and start to move. Not the ghosts and goblins, mind you, but rather the muses of many nonfiction writers preparing themselves for a month of intense work on projects. They will start and finish a work of nonfiction in 30 days as they take the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) challenge and participate in National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo).
Deadlines must be met because someone else typically imposes them. Contests involve winners and losers. Challenges, however, ask us to make our best effort, rise to an occasion, try something new, achieve our highest potential, test ourselves in some way. A challenge does not pit you against anyone else or ask you to report to someone at a specific time or place. You don’t need to prove anything—except to yourself. And that’s why I chose to make WNFIN a challenge. The accountability lies only with you.
Of course, the challenge is, indeed, about starting and finishing a work of nonfiction in 30 days. In that sense there is a deadline of sorts. But you don’t have to turn anything in. There’s no word-count. Nothing firm—except what you create for yourself. You can share your goals and your progress on the WNFIN website or Facebook page, and I suggest you do, because having accountability partners or sharing in the energy of the challenge does help you meet the challenge.
In the end, only you know if you succeeded in reaching your goal. And all that matters is that you challenged yourself.
Here’s why that’s important. I have discovered that to succeed as a writer—to become a published writer or author—I have to constantly challenge myself. As I meet those challenges (or even get close to doing so), I move closer to my goal, and I achieve a greater degree of success. Depending upon the challenge, I may:
- build more author platform
- produce a book
- meet someone influential in my field
- gain an agent
- obtain a publishing credit
- land a publishing contract
- get a media opportunity
- get more clients
- finish a project
- accomplish a goal
- learn something new
Or I might simply get the satisfaction of knowing I can do something I didn’t think I could do.
I constantly get asked how I do all the things I do. Well…every day feels like a challenge to me. I have my list of things to do, and it’s a challenge to get them all done. Sometimes I lose sleep, give up socializing, watching television, reading a book—even spending time with family. Many a day goes by when exercise falls by the wayside. I wouldn’t say that this is the way to live all the time. Often I simply tell myself, “This MUST get done. I WANT to achieve this goal.” If I don’t make it a priority, it doesn’t happen.
I meet many writers at conferences who say they want to become authors, yet they are not willing to meet the challenge. They are not willing to sacrifice anything to achieve that goal—not a latte a day to save the money to have their book’s professionally edited and designed, not two hours of television a night to blog and get involved in social networking so they can build platform online and not even an hour or two of sleep to make sure they get their manuscript completed or their proposal mailed to an agent in a timely manner.
You need to challenge yourself daily to meet your goals. You also need to create larger challenges for yourself--finish your book manuscript, send out a query letter to a magazine publisher or agent, write a book proposal, etc. These need firm, self-imposed deadlines.
I have provided you with a challenge: start and finish a work of nonfiction in 30 days. Start tomorrow, November 1 and end on November 30. The challenge can help you move closer to your goals as a nonfiction writer. Only one thing remains to be determined: Are you the type of nonfiction writer who doesn’t take me up on the challenge but who challenges yourself? Will you see this as an opportunity to move yourself forward toward a career as both a published writer and author and will you jump at that opportunity?