NaNo Updates

NaNoWriMo crest. I’ve written a few novels, and I’ve done a few 50,000-word challenges, but I’ve never participated in an official NaNoWriMo before. Though I follow several agents and writers on Twitter, I don’t consider myself a “social” writer, but so many successful authors swear by NaNoWriMo that I thought I’d give it a shot.

The pluses:

Accountability. On multiple days, I’ve ended a few hundred words below my target and wound up writing another scene to meet that count. I’ve lost a fair amount of sleep and probably some of my sanity along the way, but I think both of those are overrated anyways. And in return, I’ve ended up with two great scenes that I’d been struggling to write.

Legitimacy. I consider writing a second career, but not everyone I know sees it as such. After all, I’m not getting paid for it (yet), so really it’s more of a hobby, right? Wrong. If I think of writing as a hobby, I won’t take it seriously enough to publish anything. NaNoWriMo gives me a chance to tell everyone who thinks writing is just something I do for fun that I take it seriously. (That’s not to say writing isn’t fun; rather, it isn’t just fun.) It also gives me an excuse to schedule social obligations around my writing time. When people ask, I can tell them more than, “sorry, I need to write then”; I can add, “I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, and in order to complete the project I’ll have to spend that night writing. How does the next day sound?”

The minuses:

Too much virtual socialization. I’m probably the only person who feels this way, but I’m overwhelmed by all the #NaNo interaction on Twitter, all the pep talk emails and videos and forums. Wading through all of that just feels like too much not writing. Maybe I’ll feel differently later in the month, when I’m really stuck and need those pep talks. But right now, it’s just overwhelming.

Not enough face-to-face socialization. Part of the problem with this is that I’m not in a city. My home region is “Indiana :: Elsewhere,” and so far the one meet-up I organized ended up being me and two friends who are doing NaNoReviseMo this year. (In other words, they’re revising like crazy rather than starting a new project.) I haven’t met anyone new yet through NaNo. This is probably my fault. Nano exists in part to provide a network of writers who support one another in their quest to write 50,000 words (or whatever their personal goals are) in a month. But I’m an introvert; I tend to avoid parties, and when I do go, I’ll either stick with the same small group of friends or find a quiet corner and observe. My Twitter feed gives me access to my virtual corner, and so far nothing has motivated me enough to leave that corner. Every time I think, “Hey, I should see if I can connect with someone through NaNo,” this thought is immediately followed by, “Yeah, but then I won’t be writing.” And that’s usually enough to keep me safe in my corner.

So, overall, I’m happy to be participating in NaNoWriMo. I just feel like I’m missing something or doing it wrong. Have any of you done NaNoWriMo before? Do you have any suggestions for a newbie?


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