Every November, I run a series of NaNoWriMo posts for Persephone, offering encouragement and accountability for fellow writers as we progress through the grind of National Novel Writing Month. The single unifying theme of these posts over the last four years has been one of ‘just write it;’ the single most important act of writing is getting your ideas down on paper. The language, the skill, the storytelling — all these are things that develop out of the practice of writing. You get better, but only if you start.
Then, for the next 11 months, I spend a lot of time not writing.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I actually spend quite a bit of my time writing. In addition to my (usually) weekly post here on Persephone, I run two other blogs for a popular woman’s site, I produce social media content for my new gig and correspond with a lengthy list of journalists, students, and professionals. In my last job, I handled all the written content, from hundreds of pages of specs and technical documents, to the vast majority of our client content. And that’s not even counting the thousands of wasted words I vomit onto Facebook. But I rarely touch my fiction work.
Until November rolls around again every year and I’m emboldened again by the thrill of NaNo.
Writing is hard work. It’s tough. It takes a lot out of you, mentally and emotionally. If you’re not being held to a publication deadline, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to finish what you’ve started. NaNo provides a sense of structure, accountability, and kinship — at least two of those things I specifically need to get my figurative ass moving, because otherwise I’m just gonna spend a lot of my precious downtime watching Discovery ID.
The Office of Letters and Light, the organization behind NaNoWriMo, knows I’m not some special procrastinating snowflake. In 2011, in response to the tremendous reception NaNo had received, L&L expanded their programming to include Camp NaNo, a sort of ‘NaNoWriMo-lite’. Held in both April and July, the camp provides many of the offerings as their larger November program — forums, writing groups (called cabins), and motivational support — while ditching the 50,000 word objective in favor of allowing participants to set their own goals. You can aim for the traditional 50K or some more reasonable number, revise a previous work, or write something outside the novel format like a screenplay or a collection of poetry.
The first camp of 2015 begins next Wednesday, April 1st. Like we do for November, I’ll post a weekly check-in and commiseration thread on Fridays, in which we can cheer on each other’s successes and gently prop ourselves up if we’re having a hard time. I hope to see you there.