This guest post is by Kelly Kingman of eBook Evolution.
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?
Kelly Kingman is a content visionary and the co-creator of eBook Evolution. If you want to join her in the quest for 50,000 words, follow @kellykingman on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook where she’ll be providing daily pep talks and tips.
This is inspiring me to spend much of my November writing all sorts of posts for my blog. While I post each day and many of my posts are based on horses for sale, there are a lot of posts I include that are more stationary.. Thank you for the inspiration!
That’s great! Good luck!
Wow the title is so good that made me to click on this post
Thank you so much for your post! I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo, and I think your spin on it to blog posts is wonderful. I’m going to try it – why are Yoda’s words of wisdom popping into my head right now. :)
I will definitely follow your guidance of not editing – words on page is key, and keeping that focus makes it seem more do-able.
Awesome! It’s hard at first, to leave all your mistakes in and just keep going, but keep at it, you might be surprised at what comes from your mind when your inner editor takes a break.
Great Idea! Might be difficult with a full-time job, but would work great for a vacation week or a long weekend. Thanks for the motivation!
My blogging buddies and I are gonna give it a shot on the blogging challenge. If any other bloggers want to join this challenge email me so we can encourage one another. I’m filled with equal parts terror and excitement.
Ah yes, terror + excitement. I’m feeling it myself.
I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Unfortunately, at the time I had no concept of what I wanted to write about. However, I am now seriously considering taking another stab at it. Thanks for posting this!
Thanks for the post. I heard of NaNoWriMo a year ago but don’t know the benefit. Following your step on how to write a year’s worth of posts in 30 day can be achieved if discipline should be a watch word. Thanks a lot
What a great idea, I’ve heard of NaNoWriMo before, but figured I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a whole novel. Blog post chunks seems more doable so maybe I’ll take a stab at it after all.
I love this idea, particularly about just writing without editing. I get focused on writing my one post per week and start stressing that I may not get struggle to do it properly on a busy week. It would be great to have a whole lot of posts to fall back on.
I do the same thing. I am trying to stay focused on generating a ton of RAW material. It’s always easier to go back later and polish.
This is so good and so inspiring. I’m definitely going to try this with my blog and some other things I’ve been thinking of writing. Thank you!
I think this is a great idea. This is my big bold plan
1. 17 Newsletters
2. 12 Guest Posts
3. 52 Blog Posts
I have a big problem just writing and not editing so I think this challenge will be difficult.
that is really a bold plan Ainslie. 52 blog posts and 12 guest posts along with 17 newsletters will surely be a hard task to achieve. but all the best to you.
regarding the post, i also believe that writing and editing should not go hand in hand. this will take up more time than if we do both things seperately
17 newsletter and 12 guest post is ok. But writing 52 blog post within 30 days is very hard task. I don’t know how you will do that. But surely I encourage you to reach your goal.
I know it is a crazy bold plan – but those ones are the most fun.
Yay, Ainslie! To encourage you to suspend your inner editor, think of something my friends and I did last year. We went back to our manuscripts and found our most incomprehensible, messed up sentences and shared them. We had a lot of laughs. I’m thinking we can do this on Twitter this year, so make sure you don’t go fixing all your mistakes. :)
Ohh – tweeting the craziest sentences – count me in
I’m in the process of “relaunching” my blog, so your post here is right on target for me!
While I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, but I’m currently writing my own novel, and your idea of using the system for churning out blog content is GREAT!
Thanks for the ideas, and thanks for the great article. Keep up the good work!
Yea.. Great idea and a suggestion.
Power tips Kelly! Write, write and write some more. Forget the edit. After writing a set number of posts, take a nice long break and come back with your editing glasses. This helps keep the creative flow to move smoothly.
Thanks for sharing!
What a great tip! I’m participating in NaNo to write a novel that’s been on my mind for quite some time, but you’ve inspired me to write content for my blog as well. Maybe it’s going to be too much to write both (100,000 words), but I’m sure the kick I get out of writing a novel will inspire me to write more in general.
I think the most important concept here is to write without judgement. If you’re in the self-development genre of bloggers, I’m sure there will come some great content out of letting your unconscious flow freely on paper!
Wow, that would be doubly satisfying – blogging and a novel! Well something you get to do during November will be to switch back and forth between your fiction and non-fiction as the mood suits you — and maybe one of your novel characters could be a blogger. ;)
I love the idea of getting ideas for posts from the process – very meta!
This is excellent news. I am doing something similar on my main blog, but it’s not a limited time gig. I wanted to blog and also get some people to share their own content too. Not all want to run blogs, but many have something to say and would gladly contribute content. We’re 1 week from the start and I already have 7 editors who post at least once/week. Since it’s my project and I also post a lot, this way it brings me new fresh content and we can also enjoy it. Never underestimate the power of community :)
This article really motivated me. I have been having major writers block lately and I think this will be the cure. I figure I can mix it up with 1 EBook, some blog posts, and some PDF Whitepapers/Tutorials. I am excited for November 1st!
I’m so glad to hear it! Make sure to touch base with other #contentpalooza participants when you need a boost. We’d be happy to help. :)
Thanks for the information Kelly. I will be checking it out. I am working on my “Game Plan Now” as I push out a blog post on my blog. Look forward to seeing your work at the end of this.
I think I am heading in the opposite direction, Kelly.
On current form I should achieve ” 30 days worth of Blog posts” in a year……..Ouch!
On a serious note, I have heard of Nanowrimo. This was when I was spending a fair amount of time over at Absolute write Forums(Though, I was in the Screenwriting section). What you mention about not getting caught up on perfectionism and just doing the writing, is very solid advice. A common refrain over at the forums was when someone had encountered that cursed thing called ” Writers Block”. I am sure you are very familiar with how Authors will often wait to ” be moved by the spirit” to get back into their story. Or just plain waiting for Inspiration to strike. When it does not, Writers Block makes it’s entrance.
So true! You’d be surprised what happens if you just keep writing “I don’t know what to write.” over and over until something shifts.
Wow I wish you’d written this post a few weeks earlier. I feel behind already – what with you having clipped 150 items already to use as inspiration. I’ll have to get cracking this weekend with jotting down some ideas. My only concern is that I like to research stuff to get loads of viewpoints before I write anything so doing that on top of writing 1666 words per day sounds a tough task – aagh. I like the fact that it’s not polished though – that helps – and I have been mulling writing an ebook so maybe that would be the place to start. Anyway I had heard of this challenge but didn’t really see it applying to blogging so thanks for the idea!
I hope you join us, Chloe! Don’t feel behind – ideas are everywhere, I just happen to be a compulsive clipper.
As for research, something I do so I don’t slow down when I need to come back and fill in details or research is I make a note in all caps lie FILL IN STATISTIC HERE or FIND THAT GUY’S NAME. So when I edit it’s flagged for me.
Even if you roughly outlined 50 posts that would be great, right?
I’m super excited (and super nervous) about participating in Kelly’s #Contentpalooza spin on NaNoWriMo. I’m encouraging my tribe to join us on my own blog at http://coachjennie.com/contentpalooza-whos-with-me/
This weekend is all about getting ready to crank out my 50,000 words. I’m setting up my workspace for daily blast of writing content, shifting my schedule around to carve out time to write, and planning out my iTunes playlist, and organizing my inspirations and ideas to keep me moving forward. Thank you again for inspiring me to do this! I can’t wait to see how much I can accomplish in 30 days…
well thats an interesting read…i wish i could also do the same for my blog…. and go on vacation for the rest of 11 monthss…ahhahahah…
Great post, Kelly. And very motivating. My tentative goals which I will freeze on October 30 (and thaw from November 1 *wink*) are:
1/ 5 e-books or
2/ A years’ worth of pillar posts for my blogs or
3/ Content for a site I’ve been planning
Or a portion of each. Could be a little ambitious, since I also have the regular client writing work to take care of.
I wholly agree that crazy goals work a lot better – probably because it is hard to refuse a challenge and well, the time-constraint makes it so exciting.
I also plan to maintain a diary of my first NaNoWriMo experience. :-)
Thanks again for the inspiring post! I’ll be following your words to stay pepped!
It must be kismet that I read this blog! I’ve always felt that there was a book in me, but couldn’t fathom the huge undertaking. Since my blog posts usually run about 1,000 words, I will take a few deep breaths and try to do it!
Love this idea. I’ve started and dropped several blogs and recently started a new one. I don’t want to let it go the way all my others have so I’ve been planning to participate in NaBloPoMo. My goal will be:
27 small posts published
4 big posts published
48 big posts drafted and ready to polish
I don’t have a minimum number of words in mind, but I expect this will get me the 50k. Over the past few years, I’ve brainstormed lots of seed ideas. I recently ran across a couple of my notebooks while cleaning out a closet. It’s getting pulled out this weekend and becoming my springboard for the next month. I’m also going to try to squeeze in at least a couple of comments on other blogs every day. No minimums there because I think that may be a little OVER ambitious for me.
Thanks for the tips and inspiration. What works really well for me is keeping a spreadsheet of articles I’ve posted on my blog and ideas for future articles all in the same place. This helps to keep me from falling into a ‘zone’ where I’m focusing too much on one category and to stay on track with my brand and mission for my blog. It also makes it much easier for me to occasionally throw in something to surprise my readers.
That’s a great idea, Marquita. Thanks for sharing, I think I’m going to set up a similar system.
Hi Kelly, I attempted NaNoWriMo two years ago but didn’t get to finish. Last year there were just too many things on my plate including a baby and several ghostwriting projects. This year is even worse (2 babies and more ghostwriting projects) but I am going to do the challenge and this time around, I am not ‘attempting’ it. I’m actually going to DO it.
I love the concept of using the challenge for blog post writing – how ingenious and will give it a try soon.
Thanks for this post.
You read my mind! Just last night I was depressed because I knew if I did NaNoWri that my blog would suffer. I work full-time and have a family. Frankly, there’s only so many hours in a day and I need my sleep. I was thinking, “If only people banded together to do this for their blogs.” Now here’s my answer. I’m going to try to find a buddy.
What an inspiration this was, Kelly! I’ve also enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! I would love to try this and would love to buddy up with some others!
Thanks for a good post. I’m allways looking for better ways to produce content quicker. So thanks for the food for thought.
When I am stuck on ideas, I just blabber myself in a word file. That act alone is liberating, and sometimes I can get ideas worthy of 2 posts. This act reminds me of my love for writing. Thank you for showing me that there are actually “crazier” people out there, my own kind. 50k words? This must be an experience of cosmic liberation for writers. Thumbs up for the post!
I couldn’t imagine writing all the posts for my blog for one year all in a month. That would be amazing to do so since then I could schedule one to go out each week and then have my blog run on almost auto pilot for a year while I worked on other projects. That would be amazing but I don’t think I could ever write soo much in a short period of time.
Lately I’ve been just outsourcing my writing for my niche sites and am getting use to that so I’ve posted less and less on my blog. Starting to get lazy with my blog which really isn’t a good thing at all.
I know it seems daunting… and I think the focus for me is on raw material, not finished, polished posts. And maybe it would be good to brainstorms topics you could get excited about writing again, or use video/audio and do 50 posts that way. Either to post as video or to transcribe (or both)?
I’ve been doing this for awhile now. I write about 5-10 blog posts that I stockpile and then post at other times. It’s really freed up my life for other things.
Great post. Nice sharing. I am going over to the site you recommend. Thanks.
Wow. I’ve heard of the NaNoWriMo before and I even knew people who joined the challenge. It’s just amazing to hear this idea of making a year’s worth of blog posts. Definitely something in there. Maybe I’ll convert the challenge into making a year’s worth of designs or something. Haha
Interesting concept, I wish I had time/energy to write blog posts for a whole month. At the moment I try to spend one day a week writing and then schedule my posts for the week.
This is a great idea! Most of my blog posts usually end up between 700 and 1000 words, so writing 50 in one month would really put me ahead of the game.
Excellent goal for any month of the year; Especially for me – my article ideas come and go: A whole bunch, then none for a bit; then a whole bunch, etc.
I get sidetracked by ideas (or lack thereof); what I need to do is just get the ideas out of the way and write. Ideas will come once I get started.
I love this idea… I think I’m going to give it a whirl. Writing a little something every day for the 30 days of November. Excited to think about the content that I would have at my disposal just read to be edited and posted… woo hoo. *putting this on my goals list*
Nice article. 50,000 words in one month sounds pretty hard to do. I guess you’ll feel pretty engaged by the end of that exercise.
Why didn’t I think of that? A great idea for providing blog content – I’m inspired!
I like this idea. I was considering doing Nanowrite this year, but decided it would take too much time away from my other activities. I may instead do as you are doing and do a writing challenge for my blog. I participated in a blog writing challenge in May, while it was fun, it did exhaust me. I will keep the idea in mind.
Good luck to you and have a great time.
Brilliant! One of my mastermind partners picked up on your idea and challenged our group. We’re doing it. Look out pixels and paper! Looking forward to watching our — and your — progress.
I would like to take the 30 day blogging challenge, however, I haven’t started blogging yet, and it starts tomorrow. I think this could be an exciting, but maybe overwhelming way to start my blogging experience. This could perhaps get my blog started on a good note. Do you think it’s a good idea?
Well I think if you take it in the spirit it’s intended — to just go nuts with writing and have some fun with it, not edit yourself — you might find it gets you over some beginner’s anxiety. You’re not going to hit “publish” on everything…
Some find this kind of dare/sprint exhilarating, but I have friends for whom it just gets them too anxious. You have to know yourself. I say set a goal of 30 posts, one a day, from 500-700 words, and see if it’s fun and exciting to crank them out and don’t look back. If it works for you, awesome! If not, it’s not the only way by any stretch. Let me know what you decide!
Remeber to write not edit,Copy that.
I’m using this years NaNoWriMo to write 4 ebooks (5000 words each) and 40 posts (750 words each).
I’ve broken it down and know what I need to do each day, can’t wait until tomorrow to get this show on the road.
Funny, since posting this I’ve heard of at least two other parallel blog and/or content challenges with NaNoWriMo.
I plan to stay up until after midnight in my time zone (EST) to get in a few hundred words just as we hit 11/1.
Good luck everybody! Let me know on Twitter or FB how it’s going for you.
Thanks for linking to WriteTrack. I’m glad people are finding it useful!
Excuse me for my dumbness, but what is the point of writing a post which is to be published in a year? The world changes every day. In a year’s time, you will have something else to write about.
I’d better concentrate on single item + 1 month worth of posts. Not more than 1 month.
Having 50+ posts scheduled, edited and specific to your target audience would be AWESOME…There’s nothing to say that you can’t interrupt any one of them for a more timely world event. I’m actually trying my had at fiction for NaNo but great idea. Good luck to everyone on this challenge.
Hey everyone, I’ve started a Contentpalooza Facebook group for those of you who want to connect directly with other participants and help cheer each other on: on.fb.me/cpalooza
Wow, this is an awesome idea!