Two years ago, I had something of a public melt down about the whole Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Camp NaNoWriMo.
Simply put: whilst I agree that NaNoWriMo is a fantastic idea and a brilliant format to get people to write, participants can get too caught up in the whole thing. They save their ideas, they save themselves just for that thirty days in November (or for the two “Camps” held earlier in the year). They get so caught up in doing NaNoWriMo, that they forget they can write anytime – you don’t have to wait for a NaNoWriMo event.
That point may seem obvious; but frankly, it’s amazing how many people fall into the trap of just waiting for November to roll round. It’s amazing how many people will spend almost a year planning for this one event. I know, I’ve been one of those people; I fell into the trap of putting all my creative energy into just doing NaNoWriMo and forgetting I can write anytime I want to.
People (myself included) forget that they can use the format – adapt it even to suit themselves. They don’t need to wait for a specific event. Ok, yes… There is something to be said for writing at the same time as other people.
At some stage, writers (amateur or otherwise) are going to have to realise that writing is actually a very lonely thing. You can share the results with groups, but it’s rare to actually compose something as a group. Most writers write alone and we all have our individual quirks when it comes to getting into the “zone” so that we start getting words on the paper (well, for most of us screen – this is the computer age after all).
NaNoWriMo is a fantastic idea, and whether I participate or not, I donate to the Office of Light and Letters each November (the peeps who actually run NaNoWriMo). I think any budding writers who are frightened/scared of taking the big leap into creating there first novel length work can learn a great deal from taking part.
But, after the second or third time you need to strike out on your own. You need to find your way of writing. If you need a format to do it, fine. Adapt, borrow, ideas on how to write. Ask – look around – find out how other people do it.
Ultimately, though you are going to have to find your own way of doing things, of getting to that place where you can sit down, write, and finish what you start. The satisfaction in finishing what you start is amazing. The feeling in sitting back and knowing, knowing, you have written a complete story can be amazingly euphoric.
It has an added benefit; it means you truly are a writer – an author.
Although to be honest, as long as you write, you ARE a writer, and no one can ever take that away from you.
So if you’ve never done NaNoWriMo before or any of the Camp NaNo events – go take a look at them. Join in, take part, let your imagination run free and create (here’s a handy couple of links: NaNoWriMo – CampNaNoWriMo).
If you’ve only ever written during a NaNo event – then take a chance, don’t wait for a scheduled event, do your own – one just for you. Write, and enjoy writing.