You might have noticed from my last post that I’ve been doing a, well, massive amount of writing so far this Camp NaNoWriMo. I mean, I’m astounded by how much I’ve done, now that I’ve got a bit of perspective back in place. For anyone who’s wondering how I’ve managed to write the equivalent of a novel (depending on genre) in ten days, there is a secret.
For me, sprinting has become a way of life almost, when I’m drafting. I grab my phone, set the timer app to 30 minutes and just start writing. I’ve done my prep work by that point, so I know the story. Mostly I’m just picking the words, and I refuse to judge them as I go. To me, the time for that comes later, in editing. Drafting is about getting the story down.
When the sprint is done, I check my numbers, but I don’t judge that either (too much). It’s just a number to keep me moving. I take a fifteen minute break, then dive in again. I’ve been able to write 4-5k a night, even after a full day at work, by doing this.
Some of you familiar with the twitter hashtag #writeclub will recognize this pattern. It’s more or less what we do for that. I found it worked for me, so I decided to do it, even if I was on my own. I did it all through writing my last novel, Unmasked.
Now though, it’s April and that means Camp NaNo. It also means a number of people I know on Twitter are also writing and trying to complete their personal goal for Camp (as an aside, this time they let you set your own goal, a welcome idea that may engage more writers in this kick in the pants).
One of the things I’ve always loved about NaNo is the camaraderie, the sense that you weren’t alone and you could always find others who were participating. They talk about how lonely writing can be, and maybe it was once that way, but it doesn’t have to be anymore, thanks to the internet and social media. Yes, those can distract you, but it can also provide the most priceless thing: the support of others.
That support, and the community it creates, is what can keep us going when that gremlin voice whispers doubt and fear into our ear. It’s the shoulder we can cry on with people who understand our pain at being rejected. The community is where we find other writers who’s work we’ll fall in love with, and maybe even a few people to help us improve and adore our stories. These are the people who will share in each other’s celebrations and commiserate in each other’s defeats.
These are invaluable things that keep us moving forward, that keep us from quitting, even when we think we can’t do it, not another round of revisions, or of querying. Not another story, not another anything. I’ve seen friendships made. I’ve seen one writer coax another to do just that little bit more to hit their personal goal. I think the best thing, and I’ve seen a small rash of them lately, is the sheer pandemonium and jubilation that breaks out every time someone announces that they’ve signed with an agent, signed a book deal, self-published their novel, anything like that. It’s fantastic and I get a glow each time thinking that I’m a part of this.
One of the aspects of the Twitter community that I’ve particularly loved since it’s inception is writeclub. For those of you not familiar with it, I’ll point you first to this post of one of the founding members, Megan Whitmer, and then to my own post about it here. Now that you’re all up to speed, I’ve noticed something great happening since Camp NaNo started. I mean, I’d seen hints of this before, but now it’s going a bit further. Instead of the major deal on Friday nights and another led by someone else on Tuesday nights, the sprints have started going on all week. Given people have varied schedules, I think that’s a great thing, to see it growing and taking over the week.
All right, I’ll admit that part of the every-day-sprinting is my doing, at least in what passes for my evening (being Pacific coast, people often go to bed when I’m getting ready to get serious). I decided one day to drop a note into #writeclub that I was going to run a sprint. Others wanted to join. I thought this was a good thing. More writers writing more words. How could that be bad? So that’s what I’ve been doing. I seem to lead about 5 sprints a night, from about 7pm PST to whenever my eyes don’t work and I can’t type anymore (usually 11ish).
I love watching others join, and in some cases write when they weren’t going to. They’re so often happy to have done so. Joining in with others is fun and I try to encourage everyone who does to kick back and be happy with whatever their word count. I’ve met new people and I think I’ll continue doing it, at least as long as I’m drafting this book. Based on current word projections, I could be at this for a while. Oh well, the more the merrier.
I think it’s important to celebrate everyone’s progress during the sprint. I try the best I can to make a comment or at least favorite their reporting tweet. I don’t care if it’s 50 words or 500 or what. It’s progress. That makes it awesome by definition. 🙂 The encouragement seems to be working, because people keep coming back.
Tomorrow night is, of course, the big deal, and if you’re on Twitter and want to participate, I encourage you to follow @FriNightWrites. That’s where the Writeclub crew calls the times from. Join in, be part of the group that’s now writing 100k+ words on Friday nights pretty consistently. It’s a killer rush. Trust me. Try it, just once. You won’t regret it.