When a passion meets a challenge
Autumn is not an ideal time, perhaps, to embark on a project that may take over one’s life for the entire month – but some people like to live life on the edge.
November is National Writing Month. Fondly known as NaNoWriMo, the event draws in upwards of 500,000 aspiring novelists who take to their keyboards on Nov. 1 to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year, more than 300 writers from the Lansing area participated in this event. I was one of them.
So what is NaNoWriMo? It works like this: you create a profile on the website (nanowrimo.org), where you announce to the world that you are participating; then you start writing – like mad. You have until Nov. 30 to produce your novel, to bring forth exactly 50,000 words (or more), and if you do it, you “win!” Not cash, not a book deal or a new car – but rather, an immense feeling of pride and accomplishment.
The Write Path
NaNoWriMo paves the way for writers to experience the adrenaline rush of putting words on paper at breakneck speed, drinking coffee at midnight, pulling all-nighters and spending the day in pajamas in front of the computer. And if writers start to go crazy, the online and local community cheers each other on, shares ideas, helps each other get unstuck and supports one another through the often excruciating, sometimes maddening, process of writing.
The Big Leap
There’s no one right way to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Some writers do lots of preplanning – outlines, research, plot sketches. Others jump right in with nothing more than an idea and a dream. My prep was largely mental. I had a character in my head and I knew what I wanted her to do, but mostly, I was determined to finish it; plus, I told everyone on Facebook, so I had no choice.
Start to Finish
Luckily, the NaNoWriMo concept is brilliantly built to help writers. It keeps you on track and awards points for accomplishing certain tasks. Each profile page has a word log and a graph, so you know exactly where you are at daily. It offers tons of online support like Twitter “NaNoWordSprints,” or staff-run word wars. Forums are also available and it connects you to people participating in your region, so participants can attend community write-ins. The most important aspect of NaNoWriMo, is that it holds you accountable. To announce a win, on day 30 participants upload all of their text to prove that you actually wrote 50,000 words. And then you get to feel the ecstatic joy of telling others that you did it, which feels amazing!
Pie, Tea and Words
Last year, NaNoWriMo provided an exhilarating experience for me, one that boosted my belief in my writing skills and was so deliciously satisfying, that I’m doing it again this year. In fact, as you read this, I am most likely in a café somewhere – feeding my soul with word love, eating pie, drinking tea, all while writing my heart out. I will be ebullient and grateful, maybe a little stressed, but mostly just glad to be partaking in NaNoWriMo-ing once again! Tis the season!
Although November has arrived, it’s not too late to participate in NaNoWriMo 2016! Go set up your profile, and start writing! Make sure you connect to your region, and if you are on twitter, do the wordsprints! NaNoLansing holds write-ins at Old Chicago in Okemos every Thursday in November at 7 p.m. Check the Nano website for more information.
There are some great groups in the Lansing region if you are looking for support, resources or writing buddies. Google them for more info:
Capital City Writers Association
Finish the Damn Book
Lansing Poetry Club
Writing at the Ledges
Local Writerly Events and Conferences
Write on the Red Cedar
A Rally of Writers
Fiction 440, Lansing
Lansing State Journal “Lansing Story Tellers”
RCHA, WKAR “Pop-Up Stories”