It’s that time of year again. The scent of pumpkin spice and cinnamon apples permeate the air, the first frost of the season killed my chrysanthemums for good last night, daylight savings time changing gave me one more precious hour of sleep, and, most importantly, it’s
Okay, so maybe you aren’t so gung-ho about dedicating yourself to writing 50,000 words before the end of the month. Well, that doesn’t mean you’re a complete party pooper. There are still ways to get inspired, get motivated, and get encouragement from fellow writers without having to participate in NaNoWriMo, at least on the surface. Because this blog is all about using the resources from NaNoWriMo to your advantage, whether you are actively trying to write a new 50,000 word novel in one month, or not.
There are so many wonderful resources the NaNoWriMo organization offers to the writing community. Here’s my take on the best they have to offer:
When you sign up for NaNoWriMo, you select which region you’re from, so no matter if you are in Paw Paw, West Virginia or in New York, New York, you can find some writers nearby with whom you can network, and with whom you can exchange encouragement. The best part about these local groups? Write-ins! I can’t explain how wonderful it is to sit around a table at the local library or coffee shop with a bunch of strangers while you all type away—different worlds being created behind each screen. The creative energy that flows forth at such a gathering is something I have never experienced in any other setting. Write-ins can have many different nuances depending on who plans it, and who attends. Fun caveats are often added, like everyone puts a dollar on the table, and the first person to write 500 words gets the money, or everyone is banned from getting up from the table until everyone has written 300 words. These types of activities not only encourage you to get more words on paper, but they encourage you to utilize the writers around you, and allow them to utilize you. By encouraging and supporting each other, we all become better, more effective, and efficient writers.
NaNoWriMo offers various other inspirational resources. The NaNoWriMo organization gets professional writers from all over the country to send out encouraging messages to the participants of NaNoWriMo each week, as well as sending out new ideas on how to refresh your drive to write. If that isn’t enough, there are virtual write-ins for those in areas where there are fewer writers, or for those who are afraid of meeting strangers in coffee shops to participate in write-ins.
Word sprints are also great tools NaNoWriMo participants use to get words on paper, because, let’s face it, without getting the words out on paper, it is impossible to ever edit it up to be a best-seller. Word sprints can be done individually, or in groups in person or online. The idea of a word sprint is to write a set number of words in a designated period of time. Only have a half hour to write today? Make that half hour count by challenging yourself to write 500 words in that time. Seem crazy, impossible maybe? Try it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can prove yourself wrong.
Some of you are probably wondering why these resources can’t be used by writers who don’t write long prose, or during months when everyone isn’t jumping on a writing marathon bandwagon. Here’s the best part: they can be! These resources can be personalized to any writer. If you’re a songwriter, great! Go sit around a table at a coffee shop with a bunch of other writers, and get the words to a new song down on paper before you leave. When January rolls around and you get snowed in, utilize writing sprints to get entire scenes written between hot cocoa breaks. The important thing is to forge friendships with fellow local writers now so that you can plan write-ins throughout the year. It is important to learn new techniques, to take advantage of new (and free!) writing opportunities, and, most importantly, to get yourself started on a regimen where you make time to write. NaNoWriMo isn’t just a trend, it is a resource for all writers, one which you should take advantage of while it’s available.
So, once you’re done reading this blog, head on over to NaNoWriMo.org, start meeting new writers, start learning new techniques, open up that fresh, new word document, and start writing! Your novel is waiting.