Fiction Writing and Public History Practice

After writing a lot in October about history related topics I’m changing things up this month.  I love writing about history but I’ve also had an itch to spent more time on my fiction writing.  Along with a few members of the local writers group I’m part of, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. 

Joining the NaNoWriMo bandwagon has helped me dedicate time to a fiction story that has been permeating for awhile.  The experience so far — it’s only day 12 of 30– has reinforced the importance of consistency and building in time for writing.  I struggled when participating in #AcWriMo last year, failing to make as much progress as I had hoped. 

This year I made the decision to write every day and try to write the suggested 1,667 words a day.  Some days I make that goal, other days I don’t.  But I’ve been trying, which is important.  I like structure and the tangible goals and milestones of NaNoWriMo work for me.  I also like the NaNoWriMo philosophy: words on a page, even if they end up being edited out later, are better than no words on a page. 

The writing I’ve been doing as part of NaNoWriMo has also encouraged me to take a look at the writing I do every day.  Exhibit text, website content, archival description, etc. all require attention to detail and use a specific styles of writing.  A lot of the written content I produce is consumed by researchers and the general public.  Clarity and simplicity is important. 

Writing and editorial skills are transferable and useful in most public history jobs. Setting goals, meeting deadlines and time management are all part of NaNoWriMo and are all skills public historians use regularly.  So, even though NaNoWriMo has resulted in me  taking a break from writing about history the act of writing on a daily basis has reinforced a lot of things which I use regularly as a Researcher/Curator. 

‘Tis the Season for Writing

A number of members from my writers group are participating in this years National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo before, participants aim to write 50 thousand words in the month of November, the idea being that a time frame forces you be consistent in your writing practice and can help you get the novel onto paper.

The local literary group where I live, Stories in the North, is hosting a number of writing events in November as part of NaNoWriMo.  This includes a kick-off party, ‘write-ins’ around town and a wrap up event.  Many of the write-ins take place while I’m at work, but I love the idea of bringing the local writing community together and creating positive communal work spaces.

In the academic world Charlotte Frost recently announced AcWriMo (academic writing month) and is encouraging academics to tackle their own writing goals.  Check out her announcement to see the full ‘rules’ and details.  Participants are encouraged to post their goals, efforts and results using the #AcWriMo hashtag.  
I’ve been struggling with the concept of NaNoWriMo — mainly because I’m realistic about how much time I can feasibly devote to writing each day.  I also have a lot of non-novel related writing that I would like to spend more time on.  AcWriMo seems like a good fit for my current goals and schedule.

What do I want to accomplish as part of AcWriMo?

  • Spend at least an hour a day on writing. 
    • I’m going to say that blog writing can count toward this time.
  • Have finished drafts of two articles I’ve been pushing to the back-burner for ages.   
    • One article is a short 3,000 word case study, so seeing that article in polished form and ready for critique would be nice. 
    • The other article needs a bit more research love.  Having a workable draft by the end of the month or a near to finished draft of this article, would be ideal. 

Are you participating in any form of NaNoWriMo? How do you stay on top of your writing goals?