This guest post is by Kelly Kingman of.
Last year, I took part in a writing challenge called National Novel Writing Month, which is also known as NaNoWriMo. The challenge? Write 50,000 words—all during the 30 days of November. Until then, my personal length record hovered around 10,000 words for a single project.
Amazingly, I did it. And instead of fiction, I wrote a memoir. Which is why this all matters to you, dear bloggers.
On the NaNoWriMo forum, there’s a section just for the “NaNo Rebels”—those of us whose work doesn’t qualify as lengthy fiction. On the site’s FAQ, the party line is it doesn’t technically matter what you write: “We just want you to be excited about writing.”
If I could use NaNoWriMo to write anything, why not blog posts?
If you average 1,000 words per post, you could write 50—just two shy of a post per week for an entire year. Of course, you can’t anticipate everything you’ll want to blog about—but core content? Sure. Write shorter posts and add ebooks, guest posts, sales pages to the mix—the possibilities are endless.
So I decided to use this November to generate 50,000 words of raw, unpolished content in 30 days. I’ve started calling my parallel challenge Contentpalooza. Friends and readers have enthusiastically chimed in with support and their own content-creation goals.
38,000 people completed NaNoWriMo’s challenge last year. There are two primary reasons the structure works so well. First, it’s a sprint. We can push ourselves harder, writing far more than we’re used to (1,666 words per day, including Thanksgiving) because we know it’s temporary. Second, it’s a crazy goal, and sometimes they are more effective than “sensible” ones, they excite us and motivate us to go beyond our comfort zone.
Should you also choose to hack NaNoWriMo this year in order to boost your blogging, I offer the following advice to help ensure your success.
Find your formula and tracking tool
50,000 words is a lot of written content, but what if you want to create podcasts, videos or graphics? My goal formula this year is: 50 blog posts (about 700 words = 35,000) plus an ebook (approx. 15,000 words) and then the balance of words with guest posts. You don’t have to decide on everything in advance, but I suggest you decide what your equivalencies are if you’ll be venturing into other media.
It’s also important to have a way to keep track of your word count from day to day. This helps you stay motivated, see your progress and plan. This could be a simple word processing document that you pile everything into, or a website like 750Words.com. If you want to recalculate the daily minimum you must write, try WriteTrack and yes, there’s also an app for that.
Stock up on idea seeds
So many of us get hung up on coming up with high quality ideas before they begin writing, when really you just need idea seeds. Half-formed thoughts, hunches and questions are all seeds that you can grow by exploring them through writing itself. You don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to say or the point you’re going to make. In fact, writing is a great way to figure out what you think.
Capturing your idea seeds is critical—in a notebook, on your smartphone, wherever. Just don’t let them get away and keep them in the same place so you can grab them during November as needed. I love Evernote for this. I have clipped over 150 items—other posts, articles, and other content that I can use to seed my own thoughts and opinions.
Remember to write, not edit
We often forge that writing and editing are distinct activities, a lot of us write and polish as we go. But the lesson of NaNoWriMo is that to achieve the sheer quantity necessary, you must bind and gag your inner perfectionist. Don’t tempt yourself into fixing spelling and grammar, finding images, brushing up the formatting. Embrace mistakes and false starts (don’t delete them — they count towards your goal) and press on. Polishing is for December or later.
Find a buddy or two (or more)
Our chances of success at anything go up dramatically when we find others who share our goals. Writing, especially blogging, is too often seen as a solitary pursuit. But we absolutely need other people—to bounce ideas off of, to cheer us on, to convince us we don’t need that much sleep anyway. Trust me, this is crucial. Do not go alone. Find others in your area via the NaNoWriMo forum, get on Twitter, and find people who are participating (search #contentpalooza) or recruit them yourself.
What could you create for your blog in 30 days? Why not start now?