Welcome to Nanowrimo Month! For anyone who's participating in the event, first of all, breathe ^_^ Your brain cannot function without oxygen so don't forget to breathe. Second, don't hyperventilate (haha) Although Nanowrimo is exciting, it's not going to be the end of your world if you don't "win." Plus you could "cheat" if it's really that important to you. But of course, you'd have to live with yourself afterwards.
For non-authors reading this, you're probably wondering what this is. Properly written it's National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo but we tend to abbreviate it and write it without the capitalization and sometimes even shorten it to just "Nano." Or for this year's event, Nano 2011. I did Nano 2006 (finished my 50,000 words on Nov 12th and began editing) but have not bothered to do it again since because I find myself more productive without the tempting distraction of an online community of fellow writers (grin)
It's a fairly popular annual writing event that takes place from November 1 through 30, the entire month of November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words in those specific 30 days. It's an impetus to inspire writers to write daily. That is, for those who actually need a reason to write daily, Nanowrimo provides a measure of accountability and comaraderie. Me, personally, I just need to quit the day job and I'd be writing 16 hrs a day, 7 days a week--and loving it!
Some people aren't as inspired or motivated without external forces holding them accountable or helping to nudge them in the right direction. In fact, I do my best work when I get feedback on my writing so even though I don't suffer from the mythical beast called Writer's Block, I do enjoy the burst of creativity sparked by external fanning. Click through the jump-break to read more about Nano 2011.
Connecting with Other Participants (Write In's)
Nanowrimo started in the US so it was "national" back then but it's a worldwide event now. In fact, the Brits have totally taken over the event to be quite honest and the UK numbers have far exceeded the Americans the past several years. Although most of the visible activity is seen online at the Nanowrimo web site, many participants (nanos, nano'ers, wrimos or other names you care to make up) gather together with others in their geographical region for what are called "Write In's" where they sit for a specified number of hours (usually only 2-4 at a time) and write together. Or don't write, together :) Careful of that one!
Write In's can be productive or counter-productive, depending on what your personal writing needs are (silence, noise, ambient activity, solitary confinement) and what your particular group of fellow nano'ers like to do. Sometimes a Write In will be scheduled specifically to not write but just talk about writing--brainstorming session or editing session or just a fun, let's take a day off session.
Regardless of whether you keep attending Write In's all month long, I strongly urge anyone planning to participate in Nanowrimo to attend at least one. Why? Because one of the most sure-fire ways to spark your writing is to talk about it. In fact, Writers Groups (writers who meet in small groups to read and discuss each other's works or writing habits) are the #1 best tool out there for any writer trying to stay vibrant, current and productive. For newbies, a writer's group can be invaluable at helping you learn the craft.
A Word of Caution - Pick the Right Writers for You
You have to find the right Writer's Group or it can be a disaster. Sometimes the personalities don't mesh. It's rare that it has anything to do with the writing but sometimes, you just don't like someone in your group or you feel they always find fault with your writing and for us artiste types, this can cut a searing wound into our souls. Even though the person is a stranger and you don't like them, because they are a fellow writer, they know just how to most deeply cut into your tender writer's ego--and they will.
Not every group has one of these members (and you might even be this person in the first group you join! I've been that person in at least one group I was in years ago) but some groups do have one of these negative/toxic influences, so try out a few before you settle on one. Picking the right group is as important as picking any other aspect of your writing life.
I've been in several real-life writers' groups over the past 30 years and I've definitely become the toxic input when I try to force myself into the "wrong" group -- wrong for me, but maybe right for you. I've also found the "right" (for me) group once or twice and OMG did it help me become even more prolific than I already am! A writer's group is magical--and the basis of why Nanowrimo was started. Writers thrive off input to our art. Hence the Nanowrimo Write In.
In Your Region
How do you find the Write In's near you? On the Nanowrimo web site, be sure to set/sign up for a specific region. Your regional ML (basically, a moderator or volunteer leader/organizer) will notify you of Write Ins or at the very least, facilitate the arranging of Write Ins among members of your region.
I'm in the RDUNanos Region for the Raleigh-Durham (RDU) geographic region of North Carolina, USA, and we have 2,450 members. I don't think we're all going to attend the same Write Ins (grin) but we are all going to have access to the same calendars and schedules so we could, theoretically attend Write Ins all over our RDU area. In fact, my ML set up a survey and nanomailed everyone over a week ago to go fill it out and then attend the kick-off party.
I did not fill out the survey or plan to attend the party. I'm not doing Nanowrimo this year and barely have time for these blogs right now but I do hope to attend at least one or two Write Ins this month! My user profile is active and anyone who would like to "buddy" me (like friending on other sites) please feel free. My username really does have the hyphen (-sry) so if you can't find me by typing in the author name, that might be why. I won't be on the site more than once or twice a week, but I'll stop in eventually.
You don't have to be buddies with people to connect with other participants, but buddying does help you find people easily. Last year, there were almost 100,000 participants so you can imagine how busy the site gets when everyone's online at once! (Hence why the Write In's started ... or so I believe).
Since a lot of participants don't find it convenient to lug all of their writing gear (computer, etc.) with them to a Write In, there are also online methods for collaborating online. Plus the event is worldwide. Sometimes you might enjoy collaborating with someone on another continent--or competing with them! Seriously, the UK vs. US competition has really heated up the last few years *hehe*
The Nanowrimo site has extensive forums where participants can engage in conversations, motivate each other, hold each other accountable, brainstorm writing ideas and developments or just plain blow off steam and be silly when the pressure to create gets to be too great. Participants who engage in that last activity (too much) tend to not complete the 50,000 word goal in time so be careful if you join in the forum conversations!
Each year, there are changes to the forums, sometimes good changes, but not always. I haven't seen them this year yet (obviously) so I don't know what the Office of Letters & Light (the Nanowrimo admin staff) may have done. Last year there was talk of adding the ability to have groups but they've talked about that for the whole 5 years I've been involved. T'would be nice. Meanwhile, the forums are organized loosely by type of writing, by age group and by type of post you want to enter. That is, if you have a tech question, there's a forum for that and it will be different than the forum where you'd ask a creative writing question. Protect yourself from being flamed and check carefully to be sure you're asking your questions in the right place. Writers, more than any other group of online chatters, can be verbally abusive (doh!)
I feel as though I've barely touched on getting set up in your Nano life here but there's so much to talk about with this event. I'll be delivering Tuesday Tips with more to keep you going each week.
Next here on Webbiegrrl's Writings will be the Freebie Friday feature. I already have two freebies lined up (an urban fantasy and a romantic comedy) with at least one or two more awaiting approval / code logistics so it should be a good feature. If you've got a Kindle and would like to get the blog (and books featured) delivered straight to your Kindle, please subscribe via KindleBlogs (http://amzn.to/WebbiegrrlBlog). It's free to try for the first 14 days (which will get you at least 2 Freebie Fridays as well as all of the other weekly blog features), then Amazon will charge you 99c/month to deliver it via WhisperNET. That's 6c/post to Amazon and I get a whopping 2 cents out of that, so I'm not making money on the blog but I keep it available there because it's a nice convenience for those of you who have Kindles.
Have a great week - and to all Nano'ers, Nano-Wrimo away!