Nanowrimo 2017

I’m a veteran Nanoer. I just hit an official 14 year mark with the organization. For those that don’t know, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, is a challenge to write 50k in the month of November. I’ve ‘won’ it four times, but not in the last decade. Life, school, work, it’s all sort of got in the way.

So I’m determined this year. I even volunteered as Municipal Liason, which means I’m tasked with helping herd others in my local area towards the goal. And I’m realizing as I’m writing, that a LOT has changed in the last decade, in myself, my writing style, and my abilities.

Now a large part of this is down to fanfic. Over the last 4 years I’ve written almost 650,000 words. Nanowrimo has taught me to write quickly, fanfic has helped show me what I’m truly capable of.

Not that this is going to be a sterling first draft that needs no revision, of course. But I’m writing faster, and, I think, better, than I ever have. Just today I wrote 5600 words. I’m finding that in a 15 minute sprint I’m getting over 600. And for once I don’t feel like I’m rushing through a story, but neither am I malingering. I’m going at a steady pace, I have plenty of room and plot to get me to the 50k

It also helps that I finished my degree last year in Film and Media studies. Studying storytelling and screenplay has certainly honed my skills in that area, and given me more tools for my creative toolbox, whether it’s screenwriting or prose.

It’s been said that the best practice for writing it to write, and I’ve certainly been doing that. We’re only four days into the month, and I know I’m going to hit a wall at some point, but for right now I’m feeling good, and confident and I think this is going to be the year to start a brand new winning streak.

Finding Niches for Your Writing

It can be hard to settle on a niche. I’ve written my entire life. My mind whirls with ideas most of the time. There are certain things I love, but with as many people who write, or want to write, it can be hard to settle on one or two things. This is where niches come in handy.

As an adjective, niches are defined as: “denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.” A niche can also be “a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.” To focus on a niche is to become an expert at it.

After all, writing, like most things, is about practice. The more you write about something, be it romance or science fiction, cooking or DIY, the better you get at it. Blogging certainly counts as practice. So does freelancing and those scribbles that never see the light of day. Remember that if you never start, then you’ll never finish.

If you can find those corners where you most belong, it can make things easier. If you want to write about cooking, you start a cooking blog, or write for someone elses. Maybe you start by writing for someone else, and then create your own. No matter the niche, someone else has probably already done it.

But note that ‘someone else did it’ isn’t a good reason for you not to. Everyone brings their own spin to things. Yes there may be 500 cooking blogs on the internet; what makes yours unique? Cooking is a broad topic, maybe you focus on fast meals, or equipment or cooking for a family. That narrow focus is your niche. Everyone stumbles a bit at the beginning, and that’s okay. Where you go from there is up to you.

What niches do you think you could settle into and what unique perspective do you bring to that niche?