Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fiction Writing and Public History Practice

After writing a lot in October about history related topics I'm changing things up this month.  I love writing about history but I've also had an itch to spent more time on my fiction writing.  Along with a few members of the local writers group I'm part of, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. 

Joining the NaNoWriMo bandwagon has helped me dedicate time to a fiction story that has been permeating for awhile.  The experience so far -- it's only day 12 of 30-- has reinforced the importance of consistency and building in time for writing.  I struggled when participating in #AcWriMo last year, failing to make as much progress as I had hoped. 

This year I made the decision to write every day and try to write the suggested 1,667 words a day.  Some days I make that goal, other days I don't.  But I've been trying, which is important.  I like structure and the tangible goals and milestones of NaNoWriMo work for me.  I also like the NaNoWriMo philosophy: words on a page, even if they end up being edited out later, are better than no words on a page. 

The writing I've been doing as part of NaNoWriMo has also encouraged me to take a look at the writing I do every day.  Exhibit text, website content, archival description, etc. all require attention to detail and use a specific styles of writing.  A lot of the written content I produce is consumed by researchers and the general public.  Clarity and simplicity is important. 

Writing and editorial skills are transferable and useful in most public history jobs. Setting goals, meeting deadlines and time management are all part of NaNoWriMo and are all skills public historians use regularly.  So, even though NaNoWriMo has resulted in me  taking a break from writing about history the act of writing on a daily basis has reinforced a lot of things which I use regularly as a Researcher/Curator. 

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