NaNaWriMo, Productivity


As detailed here, I use National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is better known, not to write a novel but to achieve other career goals. 2015 saw me upping my stamina in how many words I could write daily, with a pretty good level of success. 2016 was more of a mixed bag.


The challenge was to write 50 applications for writing jobs, to include one-off article pitches and applications to agencies, within the 30 days of November. I pretty much set myself up for failure on this one. I actually managed a grand total of….wait for it….9 applications.


On a surface level, I failed my NaNoWriMo in spectacular fashion. However, if I take into account why my total is so low and what I actually did do in November, a much brighter picture emerges.


First up, I wrote myself a proper writing CV. Technically it was a rewrite, but the first one was so rubbish I don’t think it counts. While this didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, it was something I had been putting off. And this is where my big November success comes in, while new applications didn’t feature very well, old applications that had been gathering cyber dust really came into their own.


I applied to both CloudPeeps and nDash, both online agencies that work a bit like the dreaded Upwork, except the clients are better vetted and oh-my-word is the pay better. I now have to work on pitching the clients I can access through these platforms, but just filling in the applications was a huge step. I also finally applied for specialisation on Scripted, and managed to pitch a client on there. This girl is on fire!


The other important result from November was that I checked job boards and emails every single day. This led to the realisation that I can take the weekend off job searches, as it is rare for new opportunities to be posted. I also learned that while it might not always be suitable for me, there is a constant supply of freelance writing jobs. This is not a career path that shows any sign of slowing down, despite well-publicised financial problems in print media.


Although I compiled a list of places that wanted writers, but didn’t actually apply to them, I have ended up with a new list of places that regularly accept freelance work. It is best to apply to these magazine sites when they are actively seeking new writers, but they do not object to writers pitching them throughout the year. I know that a big block for me was coming up with ideas to pitch, so at least I have the relevant contact details on hand for when inspiration does strike.


Overall, I’m calling NaNoWriMo 2016 a win. I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and I did manage to clear a backlog. I also spent a lot of time working with new clients that accepted me just as November started, which took away a chunk of application time. I still need to balance applying for jobs with doing paid work, but I think a routine is slowly emerging.


As ever, if you would like to hire me and put a temporary stop to my application woes, drop me a line at



NaNaWriMo, Productivity

NaNoWriMo logo

If you have considered writing, or you spend time on social media, then you are bound to have heard of NaNoWriMo. Every November is designated National Novel Writing Month for us wordsmiths, the aim being to crank out 50,000 words of a fiction novel in 30 days.


Over time, NaNoWriMo has evolved from developing a short novella in 30 days to having the first 50,000 words of a longer novel. Or of a non-fiction book. Or a collection of short stories. Poetry became so popular they have their own month (April). I haven’t ever properly participated in NaNo, but last year I chose to adapt it for my own purposes. A wonderful online community springs up every November, and a casual search of #NaNoWriMo on twitter brings up a virtual room filled with every agony, ecstasy and support for writers.


Last Autumn I was building up my work on content mill-style sites. Each day I would log in, search the available work, and shy away from anything that was too long, that I’d need to research, that wasn’t absolutely perfect. I was doing well, but there was so much more work on there I could be doing if only I stretched myself a little bit. So I printed off a blank calendar for November 2015 and sat down to think about comfortable word counts.


A good target should present a challenge but not be impossible. Setting yourself up to fail is a bit counterproductive. I decided that 50,000 words was far too much, especially as I was relying on other people to post work opportunities. I settled on 700 words a day, or 21,000 for the month. I ended November with a grand total of 19,647 words and a healthier bank balance.


This year, I’m building up my writing business (you can hire me, if you want). I need to apply for freelance gigs but I get nervy and fed-up. NaNo will provide the push I need. Although I’m once again relying on what other people post, I’ve decided to stick to the ’50 in 30′ concept and set a target of 50 applications. This can include applying to online marketplaces for future work, freelance gigs and the occasional non-paid writing opportunity, if I think it will enhance my portfolio.


So, I’ve got 50 jobs to apply for 30 days. How are you going to adapt NaNoWriMo to work for you?