Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Nanowrimo Community

8:00 AM Posted by Tara No comments
I attended a midnight premiere of the final Harry Potter film a few years back, and as you might expect of a midnight premiere, it was packed with only the most devoted and zealous fans. From start to finish, the audience's reactions to the movie were raucously enthusiastic, as we cheered, jeered, laughed, and gasped in one voice... except during one particularly heart-wrenching scene, when the entire theater was silent but for sniffling. It was unlike any other movie-going experience I'd ever had, because I was sharing it with a roomful of people who loved Harry Potter just as fiercely as I did.

Nanowrimo is a lot like that. You aren't just writing a novel, you're sharing an experience with hundreds of thousands of others along for the same wild ride—people who are just as passionate about storytelling as you are. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one of the greatest things about Nanowrimo is the community.

Today we're going to talk about how to get involved in that community, and how to make the most of its many benefits during Nanowrimo.


The mother ship: Nanowrimo.org

Nanowrimo.org is the heart of the Nanowrimo community... and what a heart it is!

First stop: the forums!

After the annual website launch at the beginning of October, the forums quickly become a bustling hub of ideas, conversation, and support. No matter what you need in the course of crafting your novel, you'll find it here. I highly suggest taking an hour or so to tour the forums, but here's a rundown of some of the best places to visit.

Taking it offline

Way down at the bottom of the main forums page, you'll find your regional forums (if not, you'll need to join a region). Most regions are based around cities, but smaller states, provinces, and even countries will encompass a single region all on their own. Joining a region allows you to chat with local Wrimos, and meet them at write-ins or other offline gatherings coordinated by the region's Municipal Liaison. Every Wrimo should experience a write-in at least once; it's one thing to be part of a massive online writing group, but as I discovered at my Harry Potter midnight premiere, the energy and excitement of a roomful of people who share your passion is unmatched.


Writing buddies: we're here for you

As you engage in conversation on the forums, you may make a few new friends—this tends to happen when a bunch of great people gather in one place. You may find a Wrimo whose novel intrigues you, or who is an expert on a subject relevant to yours, or who's struggling with their word count and needs some encouragement. Add them to your writing buddy list to keep in touch with them and to watch their progress throughout November. Once Nanowrimo is over, you might even swap novels with some of your writing buddies—it's nice to share feedback with someone who understands the madness of writing a novel in a month, and won't be horrified by the inevitable mess of your first draft.


Wisdom from those in the know

Leading up to and throughout November, pep talks from well-known authors will be delivered right to your NanoMail inbox. These golden nuggets of inspiration cover topics like the importance of writing every day, silencing your self-doubts, and overcoming the obstacles that can keep you from finishing your novel. Getting encouragement from people whose names are on actual books in actual bookstores has a way of making you want to hunker down and finish yours.

And if that's not enough, the Nanowrimo Blog provides writing wisdom year-round, with articles from Nanowrimo staff members and participants as well as published authors.


Social networking done right

Social networks are the bane of every writer's daily word count goal. It starts off innocently enough: you want to let your friends know you've finally hit 10,000 words. And suddenly an hour's gone by and you're knee-deep in videos of dancing emus and the top seventy-two things you've never noticed in Disney movies. But social networks don't have to be total time-wasters; they can be productive, too!


Twitter

@Nanowrimo consistently tweets and retweets great tips, inspiration, links to helpful articles around the web, and on Fridays, general whimsy. They also host interactive tweet-chats, sometimes with special guests, that typically focus on a topic relevant to the current stage of Nanowrimo.

If you work well under pressure, check out @NanoWordSprints for timed writing sprints, ranging from ten to sixty minutes in length. The sprint leader will sometimes give an optional prompt or dare to include in your current scene.

You can also use Twitter to connect with other writers at any time with a variety of hashtags, like #amwriting, #NanoPrep, #NanoWordSprints, and the golden classic, #Nanowrimo.


Facebook

Don't do the Twitter thing? Follow Nanowrimo on Facebook instead. You'll find helpful links and resources here, too, but with much more structured, not to mention lengthy, discussions.

If you know a lot of Wrimos, creating a Facebook group is a great way to stay connected throughout November. And if any of your IRL friends are writing a novel next month, you can use Facebook's events feature to coordinate write-ins.


YouTube

If you can't make it to a local write-in—or you just don't want to leave your house—Nanowrimo's official YouTube channel hosts weekly virtual write-ins you can enjoy in the comfort of your pajamas and slippers! The channel also offers writing guides and exercises throughout Nanowrimo events.

You'll find a ton of great Wrimo-created content by simply searching "Nanowrimo." There are even a few well-known YouTube personalities who post videos about Nanowrimo, like the Vlogbrothers, Little Book Owl, and possibly the most hardcore Wrimo on YouTube, Kristina Horner. (Oh, and there was that time when Flula brought pantsing to a whole new level, but we don't really talk about that.)


Rally the troops

Friends and family who aren't participating in Nanowrimo can still be part of your personal support network. It's important to tell the people around you that you're taking on the challenge of writing a novel in a month, and here's why.


They will celebrate with you.

You wouldn't throw yourself a birthday party and not invite any guests, so why should you write a novel and not invite anyone to share in your success? Patting yourself on the back when your word count rolls over to 50,000 is not nearly as rewarding as announcing the news to all of your friends and family, especially when they've been rooting for you all month. It's important to have support for your smaller achievements, too; whether you've caught up after a couple of days' of falling behind, made it through a challenging chapter, or had a brilliant idea for a plot twist, tell everyone! Even the slightest victories taste sweeter when shared.


They will hold you accountable.

If no one knows you're writing a novel, it's a lot easier to give up when the going gets rough, to quietly put your unfulfilled dreams away and forget they ever existed. But if everyone knows, giving up means admitting defeat. And the cold, hard truth is, we don't like others to see us fail. The looming embarrassment of telling everyone that you've abandoned your novel might be just the motivation you need to keep going. You can also enlist a friend or two to badger you about whether or not you've hit your daily word count goal, and to not accept any excuses if you haven't. It's a lot harder to ignore the voice of your conscience when it's coming from someone else.


They can help you make time to write.

Who has time for menial things like cooking dinner, doing laundry, and walking the dog in the midst of writing a novel? It would be inconsiderate to ask your family or roommates to take care of all of the household chores for an entire month, but they'll likely be willing to take some of their weight off your shoulders so you can devote more time to writing. You might even offer a trade: if your spouse takes care of washing the dishes in November, you'll return the favor in December.


They can be your sounding board.

If you're stuck in a plot hole, another perspective might help you find a way out. Discuss your dilemma with a friend or family member; bounce some ideas off of them, and ask if they have any of their own. With two (or more!) minds working on the problem, it will be much easier to solve.


They might hop on the bandwagon!

There might be a fellow writer hiding in the shadows of your Facebook friends list, or in your English class, or in the next office at work, and you'll never know it unless one of you comes out of the proverbial closet. Maybe all they need to take the 50,000-word plunge is a little encouragement, or the knowledge that they aren't alone. Nanowrimo is always better with a buddy! So tell people you're going to write a novel this November. You might just discover a kindred spirit.


It's dangerous to go alone!

A hundred years ago, the novelists of the day were solitary animals. Fifteen years ago, the average writer may have been part of a local writing group, or connected with other writers online. But by 2010, Nanowrimo had become a worldwide phenomenon, and over 200,000 writers were participating in the thirty-day adventure. Never before have writers had such a massive and far-reaching community, and that community is never so alive as it is in November. Take advantage of it. Coffee is great for those late nights, but support and encouragement are the fuel that will get you through the month.

Need a writing buddy? Find me on Nanowrimo.org and Twitter. Leave a comment with your usernames so I can find you, too!

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