Guest Post by Eldon Hughes
P to the 4th power? P-Diddlying? Whatever.
It’s what doing NaNoWriMo successfully is all about, taking advantage of the power of positive peer pressure.
Every year since 1999 a growing horde of strangers and friends get together in groups, online and face to face, all over the world. At the end of the month, many of them will claim the prize — the title of Author of a book more than 50,000 words long.
Years ago I was the first Municipal Liaison for the (Southern) Illinois – Elsewhere group. Yeah, “Elsewhere.” That was my second NaNo. I ML’d a couple more years and then passed it on to others who lived closer to the neighborhood. I’ve won every year I’ve attempted NaNo (7-8? times.) If you’re interested, you can read one of my NaNo Novels, Willie & Frank, here. Even better, you can get Dust to Dust, Book Two of the Poison and Wine Series, here. It was written over a NaNo. Some would suggest that that’s cheating, since it was written by two people. I would point out that the first draft, written during NaNo, topped 100K.
Sometimes NaNoing involved being cheered on by and cheering on others. Sometimes it was challenging myself against people online. Sometimes it was sitting, face to face, in a room full of people just as enchanted by the magic of words as I am. People who share our particular brand of crazy. I can tell you that about half of Willie & Frank came from dares or challenges that year’s local NaNo group gave me.
Rounding the numbers, last year 690,000 people announced their own start in the novel attempt. 310,000 of them reported crossing the 50,000 word mark. Less than half is about normal. My guess is, some of those who didn’t make it started the month more in love with the idea of being a writer than they were with words. (We’ve all met folks that.) My bet? Most of the rest, who didn’t finish, didn’t take advantage of the power of positive peer pressure.
You can find the nearest NaNo Groups to you, on the NaNo website. Not every group is right for every writer. If there are several, find the one that works for you. Some of them are more motivated by the word wars than the words themselves. Some are more interested in chatting and talking about the writing they are doing when they aren’t together than actually writing at the gatherings. Some are a smile, a wave and a “how many words have you got?” Then they are heads down over keyboards or paper and pen, back at the writing. — A quiet acknowledgement of the shared madness, if you will.
None of those are wrong, per se. But which one is right for you? Maybe you aren’t a face to face kind of person. I hope you will at least try it and find out first, but maybe your group is on Facebook? Or Twitter? Or the NaNo site?
If there’s not a group anywhere near you? Start your own. NaNo prefers that their Municipal Liaisons be past NaNo Winners. They also prefer that they apply for this unpaid, volunteer position by July. But they love to hear from motivated writers who want to volunteer.
For that matter, go rogue. Go wild. If you’re writing in the middle of nowhere, like I am these days, slap up some “contact me” cards at any area coffee shop, library, craft shops or anywhere used books are sold. Basically, the kinds of places you like. You’re a writer, makes sense other writers like those places, too, yeah? Make a few like minded contacts and shazam, you’re in a group of writers. Just remember, even if we all share the “writer crazy”– we still aren’t all the same. What works for me, may not work for you, and vice versa. Remember, NaNoWriMo is about writing, not editing. So, no critics allowed. Just muses and writers. Find the group that motivates your writing. The group you feel good about encouraging.
Then go write.
One bit of repeat here — NO EDITING. Save editing until next year. Literally, next year. November is for writing. Write with abandon. Write hard. Write.
And, when you cross the 50K mark? Come back here, to the comments, and crow about it! Shout it from a rooftop. Tell strangers. A lovely writer friend of mine put the period to the sentence where she crossed 50K and then stood on her chair, waved her arms like wings and sang like an angel. The whole room cheered and applauded. We were in a Barnes & Noble at the time. It was hysterical, it was beautiful, it was glorious. She deserved glorious. So will you. Because you will have earned it, and no one can ever take it away from you. Go. Write. I’ll meet you back here in November.