As you are always told at writing workshops: to start writing, just write. Blogging is just the thing. Aside from providing a vehicle for writing regularly and for being “out there”, the blogosphere allows writers of every stripe to share experiences and advice, and beginners have the chance to soak it up.
I’ve been lucky enough to find several blogs whose main theme is the writing process itself. These bloggers share experiences, techniques, and tips that are invaluable. Along with many other things, I have learned that there are opportunities to cram your calendar with writing events such as workshops, retreats, and contests. Credit goes to one of my favourite blogs, One Wild Word, for introducing me to two annual events that can’t help but capture the imagination. For those of you who have yet to be immersed in the wonderful world of writing, these events may just change your lives! You’ll never know if I don’t share them with you.
1. April is National Poetry Month
I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of National Poetry Month until I started blogging this past year. Currently, National Poetry Month is celebrated officially in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. If you google National Poetry Month you will find national poetry contests for adults and for youth, opportunities to apply for funding for poetry events in schools, and ideas for making poetry more publicly accessible. Perhaps you could consider a 24-hour poetry reading relay as a fund-raiser, with prizes for different themes chosen by relay teams: funny poetry, children’s poetry, haikus, you name it. You could schedule public readings of new poems. Each school in your district could have their own poetry contest. Let your imagination run wild.
Young Poet’s Week this coming year is April 8-14, 2013, in Canada at least. A supporting resource can be found at youngpoets.ca.
A special day within the month is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Mark it on your calendar for the New Year; it’s scheduled for April 26, 2013. I love this one. It is meant to be a special day where you share your favourite poems with everyone you meet. What can be more fun than that?!
New Year’s resolution possibilities:
- Resolve to write your first ever poem in April and share it with friends and family.
- Resolve to write a poem everyday in April and share them with others who you have convinced to make the same resolution.
- Encourage your kids to write a poem in April.
- Plan a family poetry-reading evening.
- Have a potluck supper where everyone brings a dish and a poem.
- At the very least, resolve to carry your favourite poem in your pocket on April 26 – and read it to others throughout the day.
As you can see, poetic possibilities are endless.
2. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
For someone who embraced marathon training very late in life, this concept has a strangely familiar feel. I don’t know what rock I have been living under, but I had never heard of this intriguing event until last month (November), when I started seeing it mentioned on various blogs I read. In signing up, participants pledge to start and finish a novel of 50,000 in the month of November. You record your progress online. NaNoWriMo’s website describes it as “a fun, seat-of-the-pants approach to novel writing”. Judging from the blog posts of a few of the participants, being that focused for 30 days is clearly a powerful experience. And, yes, people do finish and, yes, some of these novels have been published.
It is an eye-opener to read the stats posted on the NaNoWriMo web site: in 1999, the first year, there were 21 participants and 6 finishers (called winners) and in 2011 there were over 256,000 participants, with nearly 37,000 finishers. The popularity of this experience has literally grown exponentially, and there are more than 500 chapters around the world. There is also a parallel writing program for schools. This impressive participation rate reminds me of the growth in marathon and half marathon races. It turns out that people really are motivated to challenge themselves and have fun at the same time. What a great message. And for this challenge no running is required, you just need a germ of an idea, some inspiration, perseverance – and a lot of pounding of the keys – to carry you through 50,000 words. 🙂
For those of you who have until now never considered the possibility of writing a novel – and I include myself in that category – you might wonder how one would start. The idea of NaNoWriMo is not to work on a novel you’ve already been working on for some time, it is to start with a barebones idea and immerse yourself in it for that month, watching it evolve before your very eyes as your fingers fly. There are many excellent sites and blogs for helping you get started; one I really like is Storyist’s Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo.
New Year’s resolution possibilities:
- Sign up for NaNoWriMo. Don’t schedule too much else for November!
- Sign up for NaNoWriMo with a friend, so you can motivate each other.
- In running, when someone decides that they’d like to complete a marathon before they … can’t, typically one would start with a 5K, 10K, and then a half marathon first. So if writing is a new idea for you, you might want to start by resolving to write your first story of, say, 1000 words. Pick a comfortable target (or semi-comfortable target) and resolve to try writing in 2013.
Just think of all those ideas in your head that are waiting to see the light of day. Happy writing, everyone.