Recently, Mysterista Mia Manansala wrote about this crazy event known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s an online, community-driven event where participants attempt to write a complete novel (or at least 50,000 words) in one month. It’s a wonderful way to push a writer out of his/her comfort zone, write fast and dirty, and build a routine of putting butt in chair, fingers on keys. This is not the time to overthink, edit, or revise as you go – the goal is words, lots of words, down on the screen.
I’ve never won.
November is a terrible month for this.
And yet, here I am, giving it another shot. We’re four days in and I’m actually proud to say I got +1400 words yesterday. Of course, the goal is roughly 1600+ per day, so I’m a wee bit behind, but – I GOT WORDS DOWN! One of the things I love most about NaNoWriMo is that there’s a ton of enthusiasm. Volunteers do a fantastic job of communicating with participants, encouraging local write-ins or online conversations to help motivate and inspire. It’s a month of cheerleading and support for what is usually a fairly solitary endeavor. NaNoWriMo is a great reminder that there’s a whole community of lovely, supportive, encouraging people out there who are enduring the same challenges.
The program has expanded beyond the November event, too. There’s Camp NaNoWriMo in the Spring (April and July), with a less rigorous expectation for word count – you set your own word count goal, but you don’t have to hit 50,000. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your writers’ community and keep that routine going, with a degree of flexibility. The aspect of Camp NaNoWriMo I really enjoy is the cabins. For regular NaNoWriMo you can have a buddy community, similar to the concept of an FB friend. For Camp NaNoWriMo, you can become part of a cabin community, either of your own choosing or you can ask the organization to assign you to a cabin. Either way, it’s another fun option for coming together with a group of people sharing similar goals.
My cabin group has branched out and created an FB group, as well, so we continue to communicate even after Camp is over. I love the on-going opportunity to gather my community around me, sharing successes and challenges, and using the group energy for motivation. This is where social media and technology really add value to life, for me.
I’d love to hear about other virtual opportunities to create writing communities – any suggestions?