The Value of Community

I had an awesome writing day today. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for the third year, but now I think I never truly experienced it before. In November every year, people participating in Nanowrimo (as the event is called) try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you make the word count, you win. No one reads and judges the drafts. The whole event is geared toward getting people to write freely, with abandon.

It’s made my life richer the last two years, for sure, but I had no idea how flat I made the experience. In the past, I focused on the word count. I obsessively checked the Nanowrimo website. I didn’t really get in touch with anyone. Then, when the event was over, I would go to the wrapup parties and feel a little sad. I didn’t know the other writers, so it was hard to truly celebrate together.

Last year, I realized that the thing to do was to get involved with the community sooner. I’ve been making an effort to get out to write-ins this year, and it’s made Nanowrimo a totally new event. Take this weekend. Yesterday, because of cold, rainy weather, I skipped a write-in and stayed in, thinking I might even be more productive at home. I slogged away for four hours, endlessly distracted by the Internet, and barely hit my word target for the day. Today, I hooked up with some of my newfound writing friends, hung out in one of the friends’ apartments, and, in the space of a few hours, blew away my word count goal. I wrote about three times what I’d planned for today, and felt more momentum than I have all month.

Some of it was the sound of keyboards, reminding me about my purpose. Some of it was the fact that, when I was stuck, I could have a quick conference about why and how to get out of it. A lot of it was simply the power of being with other writers. I’ve been very committed to my writing for more than half of my life, but I’ve also spent a lot of time frustrated about goals that went unachieved, revisions that didn’t get done, stories that got abandoned. This year, I’ve made a greater effort to join various communities of writers, and it’s making a huge difference for me. I’m looking forward to the end of November, when I can celebrate Nanowrimo with friends with whom I’ve shared the journey.

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5 responses to “The Value of Community

  1. This is the first year I have done NaNoWriMo, and the thing I have enjoyed the most is sharing this journey with others – that I will never meet or know who they are. At the end of each night, when I have hit my target, I read some posts and get so much inspiration from them that I am hyped for the next day’s challenge. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. Thanks for the comment! My Nanowrimo username is Dinosaur — feel free to add me as a writing buddy, and I will reciprocate.

  3. greate article keep it up..

  4. with me slagging on this thesis i think i’ll need to get involved in something similar. despite the fact that i’m positively brimming with ideas, writing is such a pain in the ass for me.

  5. I highly recommend it. Welcome to the blog, old friend. Nice to have you here šŸ™‚

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