Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo

Many of you have probably heard about "NaNoWriMo".... and some of you may not have. I heard about it several years ago and honestly had no idea what it was. I figured it was some sort of group that you probably had to pay to get into. Where all the cool kids hung out. Yeah, silly I know, but there it is. Well, I happened to receive an email from a publishing company talking about NaNoWriMo. I decided I'd look and see what this was all about. Come to find out, it stands for "National Novel Writing Month". (as if that wasn't easy enough to figure out...)

For the month of November, hundreds of thousands of writers join up to take the challenge: write 50,000 words in just one month. One month? Impossible! Yet many have succeeded. I decided I would join up this year. I mean, why not? It would be a good challenge for me. I tend to be the writer that only writes when I get 'inspiration'. Not good, especially if you really want to become a good author. You have to constantly work at it.

Well, as it goes, four days into NaNoWriMo and I realized that I just bit off more than I could chew. What was I thinking, joining up for this?!? I have so much going this month between drama performances, being down in Arkansas for close to a week, and having friends from California staying with us for almost two weeks. I was going to be gone almost all month! Well, a good part of it anyway. So my first thought after all that? Well, I guess I'm going to fail this year.

Isn't that terrible? At the first sign of being 'too busy to write', I'm already writing myself off as a failure (excuse the pun). I'm awful this way, I guess. I tend to give up easily, especially on things that are easy to give up on. I enjoy a good challenge, yes, but sometimes it becomes too much for me and I just simply back off instead of facing it. As a writer, this is a terrible, terrible thing to have. It's something I've been learning to over come these past many years.

As I was visiting with my mom, I was telling her something that I had already learned from NaNo. Even though I am so busy, I really am glad I joined up. You see, because I joined, I now have something to hold me accountable. Several friends of mine have also joined and they can see my daily word count. It definitely keeps me wanting to write- if only not to fail in their eyes. Funny how that happens. In any case, I am glad that I joined up. See, if I hadn't, I would have looked at our calendar and seen that I had too much going on. Writing would have come to a complete stop. I wouldn't have even bothered with it. However, since I joined up with NaNo, I realized that I just HAD to keep going! I couldn't just give up. It gave me something to work for. Trying to keep up with the daily word count of 1,667 words a day. It has actually really helped me, even in all the chaos of this month. Sure, maybe I don't end up getting all the way up to 1,667 words a day, but even if I just sit down for 15 minutes and write out 500 words, I'm still getting somewhere.

If you haven't already joined up with NaNoWriMo, I strongly encourage you to do so! Sure it's already 4 days into it, but that's ok! You can catch up! Or, if you think 50,000 words is maybe just too much right now, why do you start up your own challenge? Grab several friends who either also like to write or you know will hold you accountable, and give it a go. Set a word count, ask them to email/call you twice a week to see how its going, and start writing. Having someone who can constantly be on to you about your writing can help you go SO much further.

I recently asked a mentor of mine (you know, one of those Titus 2 women in your life) to be my writing buddy. She also writes, so it was a good match up. I send her bits of my book, she 'edits' and sends it back. Mostly it's just suggestions or tips, but all of them are wonderful! It helps to have a 'second pair of eyes' looking at your work. However, the biggest thing that has helped me is knowing that she will text/email me about once a week asking how my writing is going. It holds me accountable. However, when you pick a writing partner, you need (yes, this is a MUST) to find someone who isn't going to 'let you off the hook'. You need someone who, when you say you haven't written a single word because you are 'too busy', will tell you to get to that notebook/computer and type a few sentences. Someone who doesn't fall for your 'oh I just haven't had time' excuse... So, in other words, it probably isn't a good idea to get your 'bestie' to be your writing buddy. Someone older and wiser who can really push you.

I know I've probably written on this before, but I really can't say enough about how much it really helps me, as a writer, to do more than I would if I were on my own. Now, I'm off to work on my NaNo novel, and I hope you are, too! Or if you aren't, I hope you start making plans for doing your own either this month or next. Remember, never ever let yourself stop writing for schedule's sake. There is always time in the car, or while you are waiting at the dentist, or right before bed to scratch out a few paragraphs. I have a notebook that basically goes wherever I go. Rarely have I ever gone on a trip (even just the drive to church!) with out it. I'm constantly coming up with new ideas for stories and I want to write them out before I forget them.

Find that writing buddy who will encourage and challenge you, then hop to it!

Happy Writing!

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