My books, just waiting to be written! (Image by shutterhacks on Flickr)

Hold the phones, Novel. You are not the only thing November is about anymore.

A few years ago, when I first want to participate in NaNoWriMo, I prioritized my academic writing and ended up not writing any of the novel I never planned. If only I had known I was participating in a proto version of Academic Writing Month (formerly Academic Book Writing Month), in which scholars adapt the idea goal of NaNoWriMo to focus on their scholarly writing and endeavors. A colleague of mine recently posted about it, and — I’m not going to lie — I wish I had known that this had been happening over the past two years.

Part of me feels kind of guilty for not participating this year, even. I know that maybe sounds silly. A few months ago, I was very gung-ho about turning part of my master’s thesis into publishable journal articles. I even had notes written down about the best way to revise and focus some of my chapters into something slightly more meaningful and productive.

Then I started my new job, and all I have really done is plan for classes and grade papers. And now I am starting to get new ideas about publishing and, even worse, I am starting to feel further and further away from my master’s research project. That loss of closeness makes me worry about where I will ever actually attempt to publish any of that work.

As if it weren’t enough to have two national writing months in November, you could also be gearing up to participate in National Blog Posting Month. According to BlogHer, NaBloPoMo happens every month, but November happens to be the biggest turn out and, thus, has become its sort of “official month.” The goal is simply to post on your personal blog every day.

To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed by all of these national writing months happening all at once. Of course, I recognize that I am not responsible for participating in all (or any!) of these months, but the opportunity to do so leaves me facing tough decisions. The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that I really miss the cathartic release of creative writing, and for once I even have an idea that I think stands a chance of reaching 50,000 words. On the other hand, participating in AcWriMo could actually help further my scholarly career and academic interests by getting me to focus on the ideas I have for potential publications.

On another hand (because I have three, clearly), I don’t necessarily feel the need to buy into all of these gimmicky events, but I do like that they bring people together to focus on communal goals. And, as the blogger over at The Voices in My Head wrote, maybe participating in NaBloPoMo could help one participate in NaNoWriMo (or AcWriMo, for that matter).

It seems completely do-able to participate in two of the three, and I recognize that I would probably be crazy to try to teach five classes, grade multiple papers of 125 students, and participate in three month-long writing challenges. I’m an overachiever, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that kind of commitment, especially when Thanksgiving is right around the corner.