OF of the cool things about NaNoWriMo is the sense of community. Everyone is writing, everyone is trying to write fast. When I originally read Chris Baty’s book about NaNoWriMo, he encouraged people to have in person write-ins. Now I see people doing word sprints or whatever on Twitter, and cheerleading each other that way.
Here are the advantages of the Coffee Shop Write In. A lot of these apply to Twitter, too, but not all, which is why the gold standard for me is getting together in person.
#1 (and most important) — Peer Pressure. When your friends are typing feverishly, and all you’re producing is the slow click click of your mouse as you play solitaire, that is a shameful thing. I admit sometimes I start off just fake writing so it looks good, but before I know it, it’s turned into actual prose.
And it keeps you going, too. More than once, “Let’s go 40 minutes without stopping,” will turn into an hour and a half.
2 — Camaraderie. Writing can be a lonely job. It doesn’t always feel that way, because you have a world of characters in your head to talk to. It is nice, when you DO take a break, to be able to chat with a non-imaginary person. Even better, a real person who won’t call the police when you say, “Jeez, I didn’t think I’d ever get through killing all those people. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the bodies.”
3 — The conference. In normal offices (or so I’m told) if you’re stuck or frustrated, one can prairie dog up from the cubicle and ask for a co-worker’s input, or just for a sounding board. There may be brainstorming involved. It’s great to be able to be able to turn to your colleague and ask, “Listen to this paragraph. Does this say what I want it to say?”
Or, “I need a name for this character.” Or, “”What kind of herbs do you think I would put in a love potion?”
I suppose it goes without saying, picking the right (heh, write) friends is important. If the only peer pressure you get is “Come tank for me on this one WoW raid, and then we’ll get back to work,” that’s counterproductive.
But what if you don’t live near a Major Metropolitan Area where the law of averages will place a few writers you like in your path. Or what if you’re just bad at making friends?
Thank God for the internet.
1. Write Or Die. (writeordie.com) This website is less peer pressure and more whip cracker. The premise is simple: Enter your goal (time or word count) and start typing. If you stop typing, consequences will be severe. (You can adjust both the strictness and severity.) The point is, you keep moving forward, without time to sit and second guess yourself.
2. Twitter. It’s easier to make “friends” on Twitter, because no one really expects much from you in 140 characters. Basically, follow other writers. Follow writers who are regularly producing work (Or say they are, anyway.) (Don’t follow me for this, because I don’t post my progress to the whole world. That’s not my thing. Although I have been shamed into working by other people posting theirs.)
3. Twitter write parties. Several writers of my twitter acquaintance do the “Okay, everyone write like crazy for 30 minutes” thing. Unlike writeordie.com, however, you’re sort of on the honor system. But I understand that some writers have honor, so this works for them.
Whatever works for you, that’s the thing to do. Some of you are probably appalled at the idea of writing in public. (And I admit, it took me a while to warm up to the idea, and I’m very selective over who gets to see me in that rather psychologically naked state.) Some of you may have been doing this for ages. The only thing that matters is that you keep producing pages, because writers write.
What about you guys? Are you a lone wolf or a pack animal?