NaNoWriMo: Writing Buddies

by courtvanhaaren

Okay, we are in the beginning of week two for NaNoWriMo. If some of you added the group on Facebook, a small margin of people are already near or exceeded the 50k goal. (Congrats to all the authors who have accomplished that, I don’t think I will ever be able to sit still long enough in a week to write 50k.) Others are moving at a steady but good pace, undoubtedly reaching the goal in the allotted time frame. And the rest, including me, are a little  or a lot behind the word count goals they need to be at.  (If you’re curious, I’m a little behind. I’m at 8k and I really need to push past 10k tomorrow.)

I know some writers are able to just sit and continuously write. I wish I could relate to them, but I can’t. I am someone who constantly gets writers block. I am someone who cannot sit still and write without an incentive, usually a half-hour time frame. I am someone who cannot open a writing program and manage to stay off the internet.

Hell, I have yet to master writing college papers before the night/morning of that they’re due. (In my defense, I usually get A’s on my papers and have yet to need a reason to write them earlier… That sounds awful, I’m going to continue the post.)

Needless to say, when it comes down to it I’m the kind of person who needs motivation outside of myself. Basic motivation I can manage slightly, but writing is such a frustrating process that it is nearly impossible to continue without outside motivation.

This, my dear readers, is where your Writing Buddies come in.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from NaNo that I want to stress, it is to get a friend or group that will help you through it.

I will repeat for emphasis:

IF THERE IS ONE THING I’VE LEARNED FROM NANO THAT I WANT TO STRESS, IT IS TO GET A FRIEND OR GROUP THAT WILL HELP YOU THROUGH IT. 

Just do it, don’t argue. GET A FRIEND.

There are two reasons, out of many I’m sure, but two reasons alone that should be good enough to find a writing buddy:

1) Extra motivation. I know that I did explain this above a little, but I really need to stress this fact. You’re friends will support you in the lows of writing and encourage you in the highs. A friend or group that is also attempting the challenge is the best way to keep you going throughout the month. You can vent and they will understand completely, and have encouraging pep talks to boot.

Not only that, but word sprints/word wars are much more motivating when participating with a friend. I haven’t tried a word sprint alone, mainly because I will get sidetracked. But I get my best word count result if I do a word sprint with a friend. Simple 30 minute word sprints with someone else have been motivating enough to push out at least a thousand words each time. Half of my novel word count is owed to word sprints with friends.

2) If you are stuck on your novel, you can gain outside insight that may change your novel for the better. For instance, my lovely friend Carlyn, all of whom I assume you’re aware by now if you read my posts, was having issues connecting to her characters. She was discouraged by the lack of care, if you will, for this family. My suggestion seemed simple enough: did you consider changing the POV to the other set of characters? This revelation surprised Carlyn, changed her novel and attitude.

So, if you are stuck on something, having a friend may be the make or break of you giving up. That different perspective can make all the difference.

I do owe a lot of my novel to the encouragement of Carlyn. I wouldn’t be even attempting NaNo if she didn’t convince me to try it.

But I do have a warning: Do not hold your friends accountable for motivating you. They are not accountable for the progress of your novel.

I will repeat for emphasis:

DO NOT HOLD YOUR FRIENDS ACCOUNTABLE FOR MOTIVATING YOU. THEY ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE PROGRESS OF YOUR NOVEL.  

Okay, I know this sounds like a simple enough thought, but let me give you an example:

As I mentioned above, the best results of my writing for NaNo comes out of writing sprints. Well, on Thursday (I think) I was doing poorly on word count. I think I was around 128 total. I reasoned that I could boost my word count up when Carlyn was around and could do a sprint. Well, Carlyn never made it around. I figured this much once it hit 11 pm, yet I didn’t motivate myself to write anymore for the night.

So, in some ways, I was depending on Carlyn’s participation with me to boost my word count. I don’t know how many of you have done this, or if it would even be a problem for others, but don’t fall in the trap where you rely on others to move on.

Another example of this may be with sharing excerpts. I don’t necessarily do this, so I can’t attest how much of an influence it may be, but don’t rely on responses to the novel to continue going either. Do not get discouraged to continue on with your story, especially to extend a section you’re working on, if you are waiting for a reply. NaNo is a rough draft, ideas can be changed and sentences can be edited later.

It just comes down to this: get friends to encourage you, but don’t rely on them solely for your success during NaNo.

Simple enough? I think so.

Until next time

~C M VanHaaren

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