16 December 2015 - 6:47 pm

Why NNWM: You’re not alone

Part of the why NaNoWriMo is good for writers series.

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is the community.

Writing is so often seen as a solitary activity: writers tuck themselves away in garrets and corners and libraries, probably with headphones on, bent over their laptop or notebook or kitschy old typewriter. On their own. They spend their time happily toiling away on this thing they’re doing, without talking to anyone, without needing or wanting company.

Well, that’s bullshit. (I’ve written about this before.) The thing about writers is that it’s hard to shut them up once they start talking, because they want to talk. We want to share: that’s why we write, because we want to share the stories we have inside us. We also tend to enjoy sharing our love of stories and writing.

It’s not like we get together and just talk about what we’re writing, either. As lovers of fiction, we tend to be fans of all kinds of stories and related things, and we like talking about those things, too.

It’s more than being able to talk to people about fiction, though. It’s about finding people who share this strange, solitary, contact-hungry thing we do. It’s about finding people who understand without needing to be told, who get why we do it, and what drives us, and how it itches at us sometimes. It’s about sitting with others and writing, of doing something on our own with company, and it being perfectly fine when we’re not talking, too.

It’s about finding your tribe. A place where you fit with similar-minded people, without needing to prove yourself.

I pride my NaNo region on being open, accessible, and welcoming. As an ML, I encourage people to come along to the events, and I try to make them as easy for people to get to (no matter how they travel), and run them for long hours to try to cater to as many schedules as we can. When new people arrive, we try to welcome them and ease them into the group.

Most of us are introverts. A lot of us are very bad at this social thing, through introvert tendencies, or social anxieties, or shyness, or lack of practice, or any other reason. The good thing about the NaNo community is that we’re all familiar with that kind of thing, either through personal experience or by dealing with others in that position. We get it. We don’t mind and we’ll do our best to make you feel comfortable, because we really do get it.

As social groups go, we’re one of the easiest for a writer to slide into and feel at home.

And because we’re all working towards the same thing, you get supported. You don’t need to explain what you’re doing to anyone (though you’re encouraged to tell people about your story, because that’s awesome); you can just come on in and join in. It doesn’t matter what your word count is: everyone encourages and supports everyone else. We give out stickers as rewards (pro tip: writers love stickers, particularly is they are cute or have dinosaurs on; if they have cute dinosaurs on them, prepare for a stampede), and one of the things we reward is write-in attendance. Because it’s something to be proud of and pleased about.

Even if you can’t get to the events in person, there are the online regional NaNoWriMo forums. We regularly have writers in parts of the region too distant to make our central events who set up threads to talk with each other, and organise their own meet-ups. (I wish I could help out with those more, but I can’t be everywhere, sadly!) For those in remote areas, they can get their contact and support through the forums. There are Twitter accounts set up for those who want to do the writing sprints in a group. IRC channels for those who like to use them. The list goes on!

So many options to join in and feel part of a group, regardless of where you are and whether you can make it to the in-person events. Just going onto the NaNo website and updating your word count is a reminder that you’re doing this amazing challenge with a whole heap of other people around the world. You’re amazing, and you’re not alone.

One of the best thing about NaNoWriMo is the community. Everyone is welcome here. I love it more than I can truly express.

Coming soon: proving you can do it

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