Friday, November 1, 2013

Writing Challenges that Provide Inspiration, Support, and Prizes!

Happy November! Today I'll be sharing some resources I've gathered in preparation for beginning a new writing project. But first, if you're looking for a way to jump-start your picture book or novel writing, I want to recommend you sign-up for one of this month's writing challenges: PiBoIdMo or NaNoWriMo. I'll introduce you to both below. Two weeks from today, we'll invite you to participate in our annual Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving. I hope you'll take some time out from the challenges to join in. And when you're done reading this post, you can click on the link at the end to visit today's Poetry Friday round-up.

November is both Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). These challenges provide inspiration, support, AND the chance to win some fun (and possibly career-changing!) prizes. Perhaps best of all, they provide concrete, specific goals with a built-in deadline: November 30!

1) Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo): Here's a description from the official website:
"This challenge is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). . . . You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. . . . Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories."
As an added bonus: "Participants who register for PiBoIdMo and complete the 30-idea challenge will be eligible for prizes, including signed picture books, original art, critiques and feedback from one of five picture book agents." These are some highly respected agents, too! You can see the list on the official registration page. So, if you're a picture book writer, I suggest you join our own Esther Hershenhorn and Jill Esbaum by signing up for this challenge!

2) National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): Here's a description from the official website:
"National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel."
While I've never officially participated in NaNoWriMo myself, I did organize a pseudo-NaNoWriMo event to write the first draft of my YA historical back in January 2009.You can read a little about that event in this blog post. (My friend Megg Jensen was one of the other writers who participated in that challenge, in which she completed a draft of her novel Anathema.) You can read about the "prizes" for NaNoWriMo participation provided by their sponsors on this page.

In recent years there's been some backlash against NaNoWriMo, which I addressed in this blog post that was written BEFORE I learned that bestselling YA novel Cinder (Feiwel & Friends) was a NaNoWriMo project (as were its sequels!).

Special note to writing teachers: NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program (YWP) with online resources for educators, including a classroom kit. See their Educator Resources page for details.

While I'm not participating in either of these challenges, I have been thinking about/gearing up to start a new writing project. That's prompted our next TeachingAuthor topic: I've asked my fellow TeachingAuthors to discuss how they approach new projects, along with the perennial question: "Are you a plotter or a pantser?"

If you're not familiar with the term "pantser," it refers to someone who writes without outlining first, or what some call "seat of your pants" writing. I've confessed here before that I'm a "pantser." But that doesn't mean I don't do any prep work. I typically spend time journalling about the characters and plot possibilities. I also set up a three-ring binder with partitions labeled "characters," "plot," "setting," "themes," "title ideas," etc. I think of this more as preparation, though, than plotting. How about you? How do you approach a new writing project? 

Lately, I've been collecting articles about how other writers approach a first draft and/or how to write a first draft quickly. These articles include:
If you've read any of these articles, or have tried any of the techniques mentioned in them, I'd love to know what you think. Meanwhile, I'll be back next Wednesday with a Wednesday Writing Workout inspired by one of them.

Now you can head on over to TeacherDance, where Linda is hosting today's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Happy writing!


Linda B said...

Hi Carmela, I found you because I follow you, but I think you forgot to link up. I didn't see your link on my blog post. There's still time if you want to add in tomorrow. This is such a wonderful post of good resources that I hope you do! I won't read them all tonight, but will check them more thoroughly tomorrow. Thank you!

Becky Fyfe said...

I participate in both NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo in November, I also do ChaBooCha in March (Chapter Book Challenge) and am about to start a new one in April (Blog Your Book In 30 Days). :) Challenges definitely keep me from procrastinating.

You can find both by typing in "The Chapter Book Challenge" or "Blog Your Book in 30 Days" on Facebook.)

Margaret Simon said...

I've signed up for Nanowrimo and haven't written one word yet. It's so daunting. I am trying to get some of my gifted students to try the youth writing mo. Thanks for all the wonderful links in this post. It overwhelms me, yet stimulates me to read about other writers and their processes. Here's to Courage!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks for these terrific links and articles, Carmela.
I've sent your post on to several of my novelists and students.
FYI: a recent Children's Book Council news item ( connected me to Alan Sitomer's The Writers Success Academy which is now offering daily posts in synch with NaNoWriMo.
Here's the link:

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Linda, I didn't forget to link up--I didn't do it because I didn't include a poem in this post.
Becky, good luck with both NaNo and PiBo. And thanks for the info on ChaBooCha. I hadn't heart about that one, or the Blog your Book challenge. You sound VERY busy!
Margaret, I hope you've had some succes in your NaNo project. Remember, even if you don't accomplish the 50K, all progress is good progress. Here's to Courage!
And Esther, thanks for the Writers Success Academy info. So much great stuff out there on the Internet.