Becca Patterson, ML to Twin Cites, Minnesota, stops by Aspire and Inspire to talk inspiration and how it is one of the few ways you can drag writers from their dark, dank basements, and into more social endeavors.
About twelve years ago, this guy out in California and his friends decided to quit talking about how they were going to write a novel “someday” and just do it. They came up with a wild plan to take a month (July that year) and write a 50,000 word novel each. Not all of them made it. Chris Baty did, and it inspired him. That they documented their antics online inspired a whole host of others. So the next year when Chris decided to do it again, he was joined by several hundred others from all over the US. By the third year, NaNoWriMo as it was known had become an international event. Now, millions of writers all over the world take the month of November and come out of the wood work to sit in coffee shops, libraries, restaurants and anywhere else they can find with their laptops and notebooks.
It is a crazy sight, one that has made more than one coffee shop patron stop and ask questions. Every year in November, writing stops being something you hide in an attic or back room to do and becomes a major social event. Me and my friends, plan for November as though it were a major holiday. In a way it is. For us, it’s a time to get together and do what we love in each other’s presence.
It may seem un-intuitive that getting together in public places is good for your writing. Most people think that you need to be completely alone and isolated so you can concentrate on your words. That is true for some writers. However, for so many of us, we can concentrate just fine in a coffee shop and the inspiration of hearing all the keys clacking at the tables around you help you maintain the focus. In addition to the peer pressure to keep the words coming there is the safety net of having other writers there for when you’ve lost a word.
“Hey, what’s that word for the thing that runs alongside stairs that you can put your hand on?”
Other writers can help you figure out what to do with your FMC (Female Main Character) when she just won’t go to the mall on the one day you’ve managed to get your MMC (Male Main Character) to go.
“Can her best friend tell her that the boutique is having a sale on her favorite kind of hair hoochies?”
“What if her mom decides that if she’s going to stay home, she can clean the whole house?”
“Could someone tell her that the MMC is there?”
So you see, it’s often a good thing to hang out with other writers.
Then there is the peer pressure. In NaNo, everyone is trying to get a rough draft. You just might find a friend who will race you to 1000 words. Or maybe someone you’ve never met before writes the same genre you do. Run into them at a write in and you will find a friend who will inspire you throughout the year. It’s wonderful just to know that you aren’t the only one who hopes that this year you will make it to the end of your draft before midnight on November 30th.
There is of course a price to all this social writing. For me, the challenge keeps me away from home most nights in November and I don’t get to see my husband very much. My mom pesters me all through October “because I won’t see you at all in November”. Never mind all the other months that I don’t see her just because we don’t plan on doing anything that month. There are a lot of things that don’t get done during November. I spend more than usual on my favorite coffee house drinks (milk with hazelnut flavor).
The one thing that I have learned from NaNoWriMo is that writing is not a solitary endeavor. So I write my book and you write yours. Let’s sit across the table from each other and enjoy the adventure together.