Wednesday, November 1, 2017

#IWSG & National Novel Writing Month

November is here. I've made it through another Halloween and it's time for The Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Group members post thoughts on their own blog. Some talk about doubts and fears they have conquered. Others discuss struggles and triumphs and offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Then everyone visits others in the group to connect with fellow writers - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

The group's Twitter handle is @TheIWSG

This month's question is: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

National Novel Writing Month, sometimes called NaNoWriMo or just NaNo, is a thing that's all over the Internet. Spanning the month of November, writers attempt to create an entire novel in 30 days. I think "winning" has something to do with achieving a specific word count. Chatter about NaNo isn't just confined to the fall. I think it must be one of those things that people are gearing up for all year.

Sort of like the way I look at Christmas.

Having never participated in NaNo, my observations on the phenomenon are quite distant. Can a person write a decent, publishable novel in 30 days? Probably. People do amazing things every day. Why not speed write the great American novel? (Or Canadian or any other country because this thing is international.) The history of the event is humorous. Started in 1999 by some young writers in the San Francisco Bay area that thought being novelists would lead to more dates, they've written a funny year-by-year account of the social experiment that was novel writing with friends. Chris Baty, one of those original founding youngsters, offered this explanation of their first year: "Novel writing, we had discovered, was just like watching TV. You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple hours. And a story spins itself out in front of you." He does make it sound fun.

For me, my non-participation might well be based on insecurity. My first and so far only novel was the result of evolution more than daily writing. It was slow, Darwinian "rich organic soup" evolving to a slimy crawling animal evolution, but with words. The first draft, a sorry "Dear Diary" mess was born in 2010. In the next couple of years, the story went through a complete re-write before spending a bonus couple of years on a shelf in my living room for good measure.

I'm fairly certain I don't even have what it takes to put together 50,000 words in 30 days.

There was this other NaNo-esque challenge I came across for October. Bloggers were choosing one topic and writing a post about it every day for the whole 31 days. That one is called "Write31Days" and I spent two days considering whether or not I could participate. Whether I would want to. What I could write about.

In the end, the difficulty of my vigorous twice weekly posting schedule prevailed in my mind as a cautionary tale against over-committing on the writing front. It's not easy getting a Wednesday post AND a Sunday post put together for each and every week. People need to eat and did I mention that woodland creatures destroyed my lawn? Also, I need to sleep for seven hours a night. Actually, I need to sleep for nine hours per night. My current schedule routinely allows me seven. Right there, I've already got a problem.

So it's a "no" for me on NaNo. I could probably do it if I gave up watching TV and dialed back the sleep, but those sacrifices are just too big right now. I'm watching GLOW on Netflix. So, you know, that could get better. If it does, I don't want to miss it.