Nanowrimo Alternatives

Although you can start Nano at any time during the month (meaning it’s not too late to jump in and start now), it’s easy to feel like you missed your shot if you haven’t already started writing. If you’re thinking that, then you’re taking Nano way too seriously for starters, but you’re also sabotaging yourself before you’ve even reached the gate. If you want to jump into Nano, it’s never too late. And, believe it or not, winning isn’t the goal. Writing is the goal. That said, if you’re not feeling up to attempting a novel, or you just want to feel out this whole crazy Nano thing, there are lots of ways to participate and benefit from the awesome Nano community.

Start a writing habit

If writing on a daily basis (or any basis) is tricky for you, Nano is a great way to practice creating a steady writing habit. The profile page has a daily word count tracker that fills out the more you write. You can aim for the 50,000 goal (it breaks down to 1,667 words a day) or do less ; just set a daily writing goal and write. I have a Pinterest board of writing prompts I like, but you can write about anything – just write. If your momentum slows down, or your writing stumbles you can get ideas and support from the forums. One of the great things about Nano is how excited people get and that excitement can be contagious enough to get you writing again.

Think small

The advent of ebooks has made novels a little shorter over time, but that’s still a lot of words. Why not try a novella, a novelette or even a short story? Hell, go for flash fiction! A shorter piece is less pressure and less commitment – with the added bonus of being able to do more of them if you feel inspired. You can stick to a theme (like a bunch of horror-related flash fics), or center stories around a certain character. If you have a novel or a series in mind it could be a fun way to ‘road-test’ your characters and world-building – and way more fun then just making notes about them. For an extra challenge, try writing multiple short stories or flash fics with the same plot, but each from a different character’s perceptive.

Step away from the prose

You don’t have to write a story at all. If you take a peek at the Nano Rebels forum, you’ll find people working on comic scripts, poetry, and songwriting, to name a few. Nano can be a great time to try something totally new. Use it to catch up on writing blog posts or personal essays. Do a poem a day. Try some experimental stream-of-consciousness. Or you can step away from writing altogether. The Nano Artisans forum is full of people who help provide visual inspiration for authors by drawing characters, maps, creating social media banners, word trackers, etc. If you’re musically inclined, you can post inspirational tracks over at the Nano Soundtracks forum.

Chart the journey

If you want to try writing something more personal, you can use Nano to start a journaling habit. There is an actual Najowrimo (National Journal Writing Month) that runs every quarter (according to the Najowrimo website, the next one starts January). They have prompts on their page and other ideas to get you started. Journaling can be a great way to brainstorm future story ideas or work out any issues and blocks you might have.

Step away from the screen

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery and some creative company. So you can always step away from the screen and volunteer some time, either by becoming a Municipal Liaison and hosting writing get-togethers in your hometown or encouraging your local libraries and cafes to join Nano’s Come Write In program. These are great ways to meet other writers in your area and help bring more creativity to your public spaces. And by lending a hand, you might get inspired yourself.

What do you think?

What non-novel projects have you done for Nano? How successful were you with them? And most importantly – did you have fun? Let me know in the comments.
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