Tag Archives: groups

NaNoWriMo Prep: Intimidation Factor and How I’ve Never Finished a Novel

This past Saturday was a “kick off” party for NaNoWriMo in my area. It wasn’t kicking off into writing, but it served as a party for a lot of us to get to know the others who will be writing in November. It’s where you learn about everyone’s goals, how long they’ve been participating, what they hope to accomplish, how many novels they’ve finished, and where you eat cookie cake and mingle and talk about what a book might be about based on its cover.

It was also where I got incredibly intimidated by a lot of the people I came in contact with.

“I feel so unoriginal,” I told Friend as I was on my way out. “They have so many ideas. All of them are so creative.”

A few had even been published. One had brought in two of her own books to be raffled off, and she acted like it was nothing. Nonchalant. (“Don’t pick that book, I wrote that one eight years ago, the other one is much better.”)

My mind boggled. I felt so small within the group. In comparison to those who had books published, those who had even finished things, I have been staring at three NaNoWriMo projects that haven’t reached the finish line yet, though one is dangerously close. The other two I want to start all the way at the beginning again and re-write.

“Have you gotten published yet?” Was a big question around the room, and one a lot of people could answer quickly, whether it was out of hopefulness or because they’d actually done it.

But to me, the answer was the same. They had something ready to publish. The one woman had said she’d done a bunch of research for it. The one who had two books, she had gotten a contract by putting one book out for an open call (I think that’s what they called it).

I felt– I feel– like a kid in a sea of adults, like this is just something I’m playing at still.

I started to think about it, though. That’s me in a room full of writers, maybe about 20 or so, give or take about five or ten. There’s an entire world out there filled with writers. How many people are even participating in NaNoWriMo? There’s got to be at least ten times more than that all over the world, every one of them having ideas and creativity and imagination that they want to let loose for the rest of the world to see.

What the fuck am I worried about? I’m one of those thousands, if not millions, of people. Whether I know what I’m doing or not shouldn’t matter right now, and on the other side, it is perfectly okay for someone else to be published, to know what they’re writing, and to do it well. Because it can happen, and it does, every day.

It’s back to my competitiveness. Back to my Type A personality, which tells me that I need to be the best forever.

But on the other hand… Isn’t it awesome to be in the middle of something like that? To be around people who are so creatively charged that you aren’t the only person in the room who has wild, crazy ideas that are all over the place, it’s another way of fitting in. It’s belonging. It’s finding your group.

It’s a common bond that brings us all together, no matter what our color, size, gender, etc.

They aren’t there to intimidate, they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished, because it’s still a ridiculously rough path for anyone who decides to take it. Those who publish, those who finish, are there to inspire, because for as many who have, there are just as many who have trouble finishing anything large (slowly raises hand).

So I’m going to try and embrace it, instead of letting it make me feel smaller. Because god dammit, just because I haven’t finished something yet doesn’t mean I won’t.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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NaNoWriMo 2014: Preparing, Week 2: Write-In

The general consensus for any activity is typically that it’s better done with more than just yourself. Sure, you can go it alone, but is it nearly as fun? And is it at helpful as having a good environment of people who help each other with the same interest?

Write-ins, held throughout the month by the municipal liaison (also known as a sort of leader figure for the region you’re a part of) and other wrimos in the area, can be about meeting others as much as about writing as much as possible in an environment that pulses with enthusiasm and encouragement.

They are especially great for extroverts and people who don’t mind the company, whether it’s simply having more presence or actively talking.

Even as an introvert, getting out and meeting other writers has always been exciting to me because sometimes, it feels like an exclusive club, and those who don’t write don’t exactly understand what or why I do what I do. Acceptance, a place that doesn’t make you feel left out. It’s nice, and so were a lot of the people I met at my first outings.

One thing that write-ins remind me of is a phenomenon seen in runners, where if you run slow, and you have a friend that comes along with that has a higher pace, you’ll see an increase in your own performance to keep up. It’s personal motivation to keep going: If the person sitting beside you has 10k words on the first day and still counting, it makes you want to push harder, and focus more.

Though there’s always the possibility of focus being lost. When you spend the time talking to others instead of working, mostly, it doesn’t entirely defeat the purpose, but it does hinder your wordcount.

Kick off parties, whether at midnight on November 1st or later in the day or week, are especially exciting, typically, and you might get some goodies for it (stickers, a calendar for what days you’ve completed as you go through the month, and other small things).

Most-all of these, by the way, are organized via the forums for your region on Nanowrimo.org.

Along with meeting new people at write-ins, you gain a support group, which can also hold true for the online community just as well, if you have friends all over the country, or even the world, who participate with you. You have people to trade experiences with and relate to, someone else to laugh with and bounce ideas and thoughts off of.

For this case, I remember an article from someone or somewhere about non-writers viewing your work and why it’s a bad idea… ( I have been looking for this godforsaken thing for thirty minutes and turning up empty handed still. I WILL find it. It will be here shortly…)

Of course, these gatherings are totally optional. You could spend all November curled up in the safety of your house without a care in the world, but it gives you a chance to get out and meet others if that’s what you like. Personally, knowing there are people like me, locally, who I can connect with, is exciting, most of my friends close by aren’t writers.

I did want to touch again on the online friend groups again, though, because the idea for this post sprouted from a facebook post that got some attention. I know a few people (and encouraged a couple) to do NaNoWriMo this year, and after becoming writing buddies on nanowrimo.org, I got really excited. For the first time, I had a group bigger than two or three people (myself included) that were going to write all through November. I have more people to talk to about the small writer’s blocks and the flash burn outs and the wordcount I surprised myself with, the writing frenzy I got into, or feeling stuck.

Friend is always there with me for Nano, of course, but sometimes, don’t you just feel the need to talk to people and geek out outwardly?

I guess in a way, that is the essence of Nanowrimo write-ins: to geek out with fellow writing geeks and to feel like you have a place to go, if you want.

Some people are more comfortable with staying in or away from it. For those who aren’t, November holds the potential for dozens of opportunities to meet, greet, and geek.

-The Novice Wordsmith