The Notebook Project (NoBoPro): A Great NaNoWriMo Alternative

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NoBoWri WhatMo?

Many writers know that November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. NaNoWriMo is an international movement to encourage writers at all skill levels to sit and write a novel. It’s a wonderful program.

But what about those of us not interested in writing a novel? Do we have any programs to encourage us to write?

Photo courtesy of waferboard on Flickr.
Photo courtesy of waferboard on Flickr.

I wanted to participate in a writing challenge this November, but I wasn’t interested in NaNoWriMo. For one, I’m working on a novel already (one that I wrote, in its roughest form, during NaNo 2013), and I can’t commit the time to write 50,000 new words. I sought out an alternative.

I came across one on Reddit called The Notebook Project (NoBoPro). The premise is simple: pick a notebook and fill it in one month. It has a decent online following for people who want the focus of NaNoWriMo without the pressure of writing a novel.

There are no rules other than filling your notebook by November 30. It doesn’t matter what you write. It also doesn’t matter what size notebook you choose. If you want to fill a 48-page pocket notebook, fine. If you want to fill a 256-page A4 spiral bound sketchbook, fine too.

The point of NoBoPro is to write. Forming that habit and maintaining it for 30 days could lead to better writing, more focus in life and business, or whatever.

Because of its flexibility, NoBoPro might appeal to people interested in journaling, sketching, project planning, business writing, or other types of creative writing. For example, I could see NoBoPro benefiting poetry writers or sketch artists.

What I’m doing

I chose a Leuchtturm1917 A6 cloth-bound notebook. It has 185 pages, which means I must fill about six and a half pages a day to meet my goal. On day one, I worked out that one page can fit about 125 words, so I write about 810 words a day. That’s doable, yet a bit challenging with my current commitments (and with an important holiday coming up here in the U.S.).

Right now, I’m dividing those pages up into two categories: “mini-essays” (a term I’m coining – not sure what else to call them) and poetry. The poetry is super rough and is sometimes a few pages of stream-of-consciousness I hope to turn into poems later. The “mini-essays” are beginning points for articles I hope to get published or use as blog posts.

I’m not reading back through anything. I’m just writing. I will read the notebook when I’ve filled it.

So far, I’m enjoying the exercise. Putting pen to paper each day is a nice change of pace – a place of refuge away from the distractions on my computer and in my life. It feels good to fill up my pages and it strips away any pretense of “correctness” in my writing.

NoBoPro any way you like it

I realize it’s already November, but if you want to join in, I wouldn’t worry about the start date. You could participate in NoBoPro whenever; I hope to do it again in March. Just pick out a notebook, choose a 30-day stretch and write. There’s nothing else to it. In fact, there should never be anything else to writing. No need to overthink your writing process. Just write.

If you’re interested in NoBoPro, join the Facebook or Reddit groups or visit their website. Who knows, in a few years this could be as big as NaNoWriMo.

Kevin Eagan (@KevEagan) is a freelance editor and writer living in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. Critical Margins is his place to share his interests. You can also check out his professional website,