PragProgWriMo Starts November 1st

November 1st marks the start of The Pragmatic Programmers Writing Month, aka PragProgWriMo!

The Inspiration for PragProgWriMo

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The inspiration for PragProgWriMo comes from NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. Started in 1999, it’s an annual creative writing project in which participants try to write a fifty-thousand-word novel during the month of November. According to Wikipedia, NaNoWriMo started modestly with twenty-one people working toward writing a novel in a month but grew to two hundred thousand participants writing a total of nearly three billion words in 2010.

Ten years after the first NaNoWriMo, we hosted the first PragProgWriMo. Daniel Steinberg suggested the idea in The Pragmatic Programmers’ old blog, Pragmatic Life. In the blog entry, he wrote:

It’s time to write that book you’ve always wanted to write.

We’ll start together on November first and in thirty days or less you’ll know if you are meant to write a book or not. Your commitment is to sit down every day and write pages. They don’t have to be good pages — they won’t be great pages — you’ll have plenty of time to fix them later. Keep writing.

Less than a month to find out if you can do something you’ve always wanted to try. Such a deal.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’m not saying you will finish the book in thirty days nor that what you write will be worth publishing. I’m saying that by December first you’ll know.

You’ll have a pile of pages or you won’t.

On one hand, if you don’t, then you are one of the many people who wants to have written a book but doesn’t want to write a book. There’s nothing wrong with that. In a month you’ll know if that describes you or not.

On the other hand, you might find that you love writing. You’ve got something to say and you love the hard work it takes to craft words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into passages that people want to read. Then you are meant to write a book. You won’t be able to stop. You still might not be able to publish your book, but that doesn’t keep you from being an author who has written a book.

In between those two hands are the vast majority of us. We write when the planets align. We have blogs but weeks or months might pass between our posts. We can participate in this month of writing by posting a solid blog entry every day for the month of November. Then we might go back to them once in a while or we might continue.

How to Participate in PragProgWriMo

If you’re a developer and have been looking for a way to stretch yourself, improve your communications skills, and expand your career opportunities, PragProgWriMo offers a structure by which you can do so:

Take the pragmatic approach and write a blog post every day in November. Although it’s simpler than writing an entire book on some aspect of programming or technology or writing a fifty-thousand-word novel in a month, it’s still an undertaking that calls for a lot of work. The time and effort involved in daily blogging is considerable. You’ll need at least an hour per post, longer if you include code or step-by-step tech walkthroughs.

Write a book on some aspect of programming or technology during the month of November. A novel-sized technical book might be too tall an order for a month’s worth of writing, but a smaller book with a limited scope — say, a no-fluff guide to writing developer documentation, an introduction to GitOps, or a guide to creating user story maps — would be within the realm of possibility. PragProgWriMo is the perfect time to write a book in our fifty-page, ebook-only Pragmatic Answers series.

Writing Like the Wind

During the 2009 PragProgWriMo, Daniel Steinberg shared daily posts to help inspire participants. You can read those stories here.

To help you on your way, here are some recent stories about writing from The Pragmatic Programmers:

During the month of November, I’ll post more articles about writing, including some gems from one of our founders, Dave Thomas. Give PragProgWriMo a try. Even if you write only a blog article or two — it may pay off in ways that you never even imagined.

Let’s get writing! 🖋

⏲️ When you are ready to pitch your book idea to a publisher, you may find this article helpful: I’m Ready to Pitch My Technical Book!

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