Write Now Columbus – November 2020

Hi Writers:

I’m not going to talk about it. We’ve heard enough already, and we’ll hear more later tonight and in the days (weeks, years?) to come.

Take a breath. I’ll take one with you.

Instead, I’ll remind us all that our local literary organizations, especially our beloved Thurber House, desperately need support. Attendance is down and expenses are not. I donated. I hope you will too. PLEASE DONATE.

Between the event I’m not talking about and Thanksgiving, writing events have slowed. The Write Now Columbus calendar shows 18 events. If I missed any, please let me know.

Meanwhile, National Novel Writing Month rolls on!

If you began right now (this was originally written on the 3rd of November,) you would only have to write 1,786 words a day to complete the 50,000 word challenge by the end of November. I’m teaching a free NaNoWriMo workshop, “Now that You’ve Begun, How Do You Keep Going?” hosted by WNBA-SF on Wednesday, November 11th at 3pm. I hope you’ll join me. Registration is required.

For those of you trying to avoid buying books from the big “A,” check out bookshop.org. Aiming to keep independent bookstores alive, the founder is taking aim at the big “A.”  Bookshop.org even offers affiliate opportunities. I set up a store to support Write Now Columbus (we do have expenses) so perhaps you’ll consider purchasing books there.

I continue to post author interviews on my blog. Here are the two most recent with Cheryl Leutjen, author of Love Earth Now, and Marlena Fiol, author of Nothing Bad Between Us.

My most recent project is a Facebook group for mind and mood health called “Mind, Mood & Movement.” I’m posting daily “practices” in mindfulness, writing, and movement as well as memes, surveys, and eventually challenges. If you need a lift, check us out. It’s a private group, but all are welcome.

And if you would like to hear more from me beyond what I offer in these Write Now Columbus updates, please sign up for my author newsletter using the form on the homepage.

No matter the outcome of the event I’m not mentioning, you know what to do. You’re a writer. What do writers do? Writers write.

Write on.

~ Nita

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“October is #NaNoPrepMo” Write Now Columbus – October 2020


Write Now Columbus – October 2020

Hi Writers:

With colleges back in session and groups and bookstores figuring out how to host online events, the central Ohio writing event scene is abundant. I posted 43 events on the calendar. Much of the world has headed to zoom. This makes competition for attendees greater than ever. I hope you’ll continue to “attend” central Ohio events.

I don’t usually post contests, but as a board member of the Women’s National Book Association of San Francisco, I’m honor bound to tell you about the Effie Lee Morris Literary Contest. Submissions are open. I wrote a bit here about how contests are a sometimes overlooked path to publication.

Writing Articles

If you’re not (yet) following me on your favorite social media channel, you won’t know that I’ve begun to post writing-related information and articles at 7pm every evening. Here’s a sample of recent posts:

“Getting in The Right Zone To Write” by Greta Solomon

New podcast! Word Matters | Merriam-Webster – NEPM Podcasts

The Anonymous Lawyer Behind @nyttypos

Artist Relief Organization Extends COVID-19 Grants to End of 2020

Writing Prompts

Each day at noon on my social media channels, I continue to post a writing prompt using the hashtag #tenminutesgo. Here are a few from last month:

A time when everything mattered . . .
A time when nothing mattered . . .
My big dream . . .
A time I stayed quiet . . .
This time I’m going tell the truth . . .

If you write fiction, write these from the point of view of one of your characters. Set that timer, “Ten minutes. Go!”


Speaking of fiction, it’s October which makes it #NaNoPrepMo, time to prepare for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo.) I’ve written about my love of NaNoWriMo on my blog. I’ll spare you a repeat. For those of you not aware, it’s a writing challenge that begins November 1st. Like most things, it will be virtual this year. So no write-ins at Colin’s Coffee. *sadface* But the challenge lives. We plan now. In November, we write like mad!


If you know of a college student looking for an internship, my intern graduated and I could use a new one! The lucky candidate can add “intern to award-winning author” to her LinkedIn profile. Reply to this email for details.

My Activities

This month has been lovely busy with many “featured ins” which you can find here, and several workshops.

I was also surprised and honored to be invited to join this panel on “How To Improve as A Writer” on The Writing Cooperative’s “This Week in Writing” podcast.

Thursday I’m giving a webinar at the Columbus Bar Association. It is open to anyone, but there is a fee. Lawyers are eligible for CLE. I’m always grateful for these opportunities.

Thank you!

I’ll close with some much-needed levity from this piece in McSweeney’s, “An English Major In the Afterlife.”

Thank you for subscribing to Write Now Columbus. Please tell your friends!

Take care and please, for the future of us all, wear a mask!

~ Nita

Nita Sweeney
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2020, all rights reserved

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How to Win National Novel Writing Month


How to Win National Novel Writing Month

Just how do you win National Novel Writing Month?


Write 50,000 words of fiction during the 30 days of November. No problem, right?

Okay. Maybe it’s not that simple, but thousands have done it.

But how?

The single most effective way to win National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is not what you might think.

It is not writing every day although that will certainly help, and forming a daily writing habit is one of the long-term benefits NaNoWriMo can provide.

It’s not getting ahead early although that too will boost your word count and may carry you through Thanksgiving and Black Friday which have derailed many a wrimo.

It is not having a fully developed plot by mid-October and, frankly, it’s way too late to worry too much about your plot now.

Its not filling your cupboard with snacks. But hey. Snacks! No one’s going to turn those down.

It’s not buying the winner shirt ahead of time or donating so you get that laurel wreath but that helps nanowrimo.org stay afloat.

It is not having a massage therapist on speed dial. But most folks wouldn’t turn one of those away either.

It is also not having the perfect writing space or the perfect writing tools or the perfect writing music. Nopety. Nope.

What is the single most effective method to win NaNoWriMo?

Go to the Write-Ins!!

During November, attend as many write-ins as you can possibly manage. Wrimos who attend write-ins usually achieve their November goal.

What is a write-in?

It’s a bit like study hall, but with snacks. It’s similar to co-working, except the “boss” is friendly and may use stickers to cheer you on. It may resemble the library (or even be at the library) except you can talk . . . a little . . . and everyone brings their own laptop (or typewriter or notebook or tattoo needle or chisel) instead of using the library computers.

What should you expect at a write-in?

A write-in offers a sweet blend of camaraderie and peer pressure. The room is quiet. Eventually, one brave soul begins to type. Then, another takes to the keyboard. Then, a third. Soon, you’ll be the only one left not pounding the keys. When this happens, either a soothing swell of creative energy will lift you into the ocean of writing or a tidal wave of shame will smash you toward the keys. Either way, words will soon appear on your screen.

At some write-ins, a word war or word sprint may break out. Join in! The Municipal Liaison (ML) or a fellow wrimo will set a timer and off you’ll go to either see how many words you can write in a given time or see how long it takes you to write a chosen number of words. The winner might win a prize – usually a sticker or a snack!

Expect random giggling as a wrimo cracks herself up with her own wit or a gasp as someone makes a lightning flash connection that sets their novel on fire. People might ask questions or answer yours. But most of all, the group will be together, flailing away at this nearly impossible task. You’ll realize you’re not alone. That will carry you through.

No matter where you live, every region offers write-ins for your pleasure. On the NaNoWriMo site, click “Find a Region” under the “Community” tab and either allow the site to find your location or use the map to locate the closest region. By joining a region, you’ll get the latest news from your ML and learn about these magical word-generating parties!

Now get to work!

But How Do You Start? – Write Now Columbus – November 2019

But How Do You Start? – Write Now Columbus – November 2019


But How Do You Start?

When someone asks HOW to start writing, what they often want to know is WHERE to start writing, as in, “Where should my story begin?”

If it is November and they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, the annual challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction during the thirty days of November, about which I’ve written many times, the person’s question is premature.

Come to think of it, regardless of whether or not it is November or whether or not they are participating in NaNoWriMo, the question is still premature. In order to begin, a writer, new or otherwise, doesn’t need to know what words will follow the heading “Chapter One.” They just need to start writing.

But let me add a caveat. I write from my gut. I feel my way through. Not everyone is like this. Some people need to think a piece through or draft an outline. They may need extensive notes and research, especially for longer works. All that is fine, of course. But at some point, they just have to dive in.

That’s where writing practice saves me.

Decades of doing timed writing with no agenda except to put words on the page sidesteps the potentially paralyzing question of where the story should start. I figure it out by writing. I get in there and wallow around. Research or plotting or planning I’ve done ahead of time only serves me once my fingers are hammering the keyboard. I have to turn on the spigot and then, once the water is flowing, I’ll see what crevices it naturally wants to enter.

What is writing practice? It’s what I learned from best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. Timed writing. Set a timer and go. No thought. Don’t cross out or back space. Do not wonder if what I just wrote makes any sense. No stopping until the timer dings. It’s freeing and terrifying and the only way I know how to work. It’s the engine beneath everything I write.

And, it is just my way. I would love to hear about other ways in the comments.

Six Reasons NOT to Submit Your NaNoWriMo Novel in December

“Even the greats don’t nail it on the first try.” ~ Emily Temple

Each year in November, hundreds of thousands of ordinary, everyday people across the world take a challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction in thirty days. It’s called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve done this challenge many times. Since I know how effective it is in helping writers complete a very rough first draft, I often suggest NaNoWriMo in my classes and newsletter.

Each year in December, a fraction of those same people send their unedited or barely revised 50,000 words, the same words they just wrote in November, to agents and editors.

Here are six reasons why you do not want to do that:

1. They will hate you forever.

2. They will hate you forever.

3. They will hate you forever.

4. They will hate you forever.

5. They will hate you forever.

6. They will hate you forever.

Last month my husband and I attended a Veterans Day luncheon at the local senior center. A friend of Ed’s who happens to be a retired editor, greeted me by saying, “I hate your newsletter!”

Um. Thanks.

He didn’t hate my newsletter. What he hated was receiving submissions that weren’t ready for an editor’s eyes. I had to agree with him. I don’t know if any of those submissions were written during NaNoWriMo, but the point remains – YOUR WORK MUST BE REVISED.

Please. I beg you. If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, don’t let the excitement (mania?) of November (or any writing spree for that matter) lull you into believing your work is ready to go out right away. Let your manuscript rest. Then, in January (or August), bring it out again. Revise, revise, revise. Have other people read it. Then revise again before submitting it anywhere.

You get one shot with an agent or editor. Don’t waste it.

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