All Together Now – NaNoWriMo and Community

It happens every November. After eye-balling my commitments and my calendar, I decide that I definitely, absolutely, 100% canNOT commit to writing 50,000 words in a month. Nope. No NaNoWriMo for this girl. Then… the writers around me start to chatter. Some will be giving it another shot after falling short of the 50k word goal in years past, others will confidently stride into it with several previous “wins”.

Caught up in the tide of enthusiasm, I’ll say, “Well, there is an idea I’ve been bouncing around my head…”

Writing groups, at least the writers I group with, are very skilled at encouraging each other into writing. I’m easily encouraged.

This is the seductive call of NaNoWriMo, the ability to join and work with a group of enthusiastic writers. Sure, there is a general giddiness of focussing all of your free-time on writing! But the biggest pull to hop into the NaNo pool is the community of those writing enablers.

It starts with the initial excitement of adding your current friends as “Buddies” on NaNoWriMo.org. You’re on a virtual retreat with your writer friends! Then the NaNo folks flood your inbox with pep talks from well-known authors, heroes, and successful writers. Authors are tweeting their pain and success of hitting daily word counts, the struggle is real.

Islands of writing communities form as local NaNo leaders invite anyone close to meet each other and write together! When most of writing is a solitary affair, gathering at the IHOP with your newest writing buddies, people sharing the goal of tapping out new worlds and characters, is intoxicating. Getting into pants and leaving the house can be inspirational.

Once you get to know writers around you, it is possible to build long lasting connections with those like-minded people. The Editors of Apparition Lit met in an online writing class nearly 5 years ago. We built our own critique & encouragement circle. Just like NaNoWriMo can be about more than just word count goal (an end product), our literary magazine aspires to be more than just 4 quarterly issues (an end product). Going beyond publication, we’re aiming to bring our sense of comradery to the masses, welcoming readers and writers with a new avenue to foster community.

NaNoWriMo does have it’s controversy. Loads of writers, and others, have strong opinions on whether it’s a good idea to force yourself to write a novel in a month, mostly pantsing, minimal plotting. Many argue that, sure you can write a novel, but it’s going to be a shitty novel that you shove into a virtual drawer and never look at again. Others contend that it’s a fantastic way to jumpstart your focus and commitment to butt-in-seat, which is essential to creating.

Either way, it’s really nice to jump into a community of people who are creating. As a bonus, you may actually write that novel you’ve been meaning to start/finish all year.

Featured image by Dawn Imagination Stables II

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