I’ve always viewed writing as a solitary activity. It’s my “me” time, when I shut out the world and disappear into whatever story or character or setting my imagination has concocted. I joined writing clubs; I even co-founded a writing club in college. But for me the meetings weren’t about actually writing. They were opportunities to gather with other writers; chances to talk with people who shared my passion, who understood how much it hurt to cut a scene or kill a character even though you knew you had to do it for the greater good of the story. Meetings were chances to workshop my peers’ work, and to see my own work under the metaphorical knife. But all of this was socializing, editing, critiquing; it didn’t feel like it was actually writing.
A recent In the Library with the Lead Pipe article made me question my views of writing as an individual project. In it, the author reflects on her participation in two writing challenges: Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) and Digital Writing Month (DigiWriMo). Both of these are inspired by the more widely-known National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which challenges writers around the world to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. NaNoWriMo and its related projects come complete with online forums, video pep talks, and even regional meet-ups to inspire writers and keep them on track to meet their goals.
I’ve never officially participated in NaNoWriMo. The event takes place in November, always a busy month for me. And the rules never seemed conducive to my writing style — I could write 50,000 words in a month, but it usually wasn’t a full novel. My novels tend to be in the 75,000+ word range. And I didn’t like being told that I couldn’t start working until November 1. If I’d already been thinking about the project for a while, waiting until the first felt like I was procrastinating or making excuses.
So I said to heck with their rules and decided to do what worked for me. In February 2008 I wrote 50,000 words and about half of a novel which I finished that summer. This past April, I made it a goal to finish the book I’d started writing in January (a book which I’d written by hand) and reach the 50,000-word mark typing it up. But as I read about the overwhelming amount of support found on AcroWriMo and DigiWriMo forums, and the testimonials to NaNoWriMo, I started wondering if I’ve been missing out on something.
Maybe writing didn’t used to be social for me. But I started this blog to start conversations. I joined Twitter so I could follow other writers and librarians, and share my own writer-ly and librarian-ly thoughts. Social media is making everything more connected and interactive. I feel like if I don’t participate, I won’t be riding the wave of change; I’ll be washed away by it.
So this year, my writing is going social. I know there will be at least one sequel to the book that I’m working on now, and I’ve got plenty of work to do on the first one to tide me over until November 1. Then, I’ll laugh, cry, binge on sugar and caffeine, and partake in general insanity along with hundreds of thousands of other writers. Look for me on the forums; I’ll be the one with the perpetual sugar-high.