For a month.
Yeah, you read that right. I will not go on Facebook for the entire month of November. Starting at midnight November 1st, this past weekend, and ending at midnight on December 1st, I have vowed to stay off of Facebook, online games, mobile games, and most social media. The only exception is twitter. I am limiting video games, movies, and music to subject material that is either inspiring me to write or is somehow related to what I’m working on.
Like most people I’ve mentioned this idea to, you’re probably scoffing, saying, “Yeah right. You’ll be back on Facebook in a couple of days. You can’t stay away.”
Well, this isn’t the first time that I’ve done this, so I’m confident that I will make it the entire month. This is actually my fourth year of taking one month off.
Well, November is NaNoWriMo.
Na. No. Wri. Mo.
National Novel Writing Month.
November is when many writers seem to disappear from the world for just about the entire month. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but for that one month out of the year, a large percentage of writers cluster together and push each other to produce about 50,000 words in a month, the minimum word count for your work to officially be counted as a novel.
Think of it as a boot camp for writers, but you don’t actually have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. All you need is something to write with and a connection to the internet. Twitter has become the focal point where most of the participating writers aim their attention. From twitter, participants are giving each other encouragement. They help others who may feel that they just can’t make it, or when they’re stuck. Organizers use twitter to oversee word sprints, or set amounts of time when you need to write as much as you can for an allotted amount of time.
Workshops and meet-ups are organized for those who may be getting cabin fever and need to move to different surroundings. You may walk into a book store or a coffee shop and find groups of people discussing their ideas and plans. Or they all just might have their faces buried in their monitors, but they are with others who are doing the same thing.
Is it easy?
Fifty thousand words is a lot of writing. And you have to do it in thirty days. That is roughly 1,667 words. Per Day. That is not an event where you can just plop your butt into a chair and start writing. You need to plan. You need to get ready.
Just like a runner preparing to run a marathon, you don’t just show up and run the full 26.2 miles. You need to spend the months before training physically and mentally. On many levels this is the same principle. Mentally, you need to be ready to write as much as you can for an entire month. You need to already have an idea in mind. Even better, you should have an outline of some sort. You need to know where you’re going. When a bad case of writer’s block hits you, and believe me it will, you need to have a point of reference so your entire month isn’t ruined because you got stuck and couldn’t finish.
Do you have to write a novel?
Nope. Not at all.
Yes, the word Novel is part of the name, and you are encouraged to use that time to write a new novel, from start to finish. For the first two years, that’s what I tried to do. I got my word count, but realizing that fifty thousand words is actually a very short novel, I was in no way finished with the stories I wanted to tell. So last year I decided to used that time to take the projects I was already working on, and focus on them. There is no better time to force myself to write. You have thousands of people cheering you on while they do the same thing. That is a resource I can’t pass up.
This year, I’m doing it again. I’m have multiple projects that I just want to sit down and write. Plus, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t start anything new until I finish what I already have, or get to a point where I’m seriously, undeniably stuck. That hasn’t happened yet, so have no excuses.
I discovered this fun little month-long holiday a few years back, and I am so happy that I did. Just knowing that there are thousands of other people going through the same struggle that I am is encouragement in itself. To have all of them helping push me along is a blessing that I am extremely happy to have.
I don’t think I would have made it this far without them.
Who says writing has to always be a solitary art?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to dive back into my shame pile.