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October Feature

NaNoWriMo Challenge

I know I said this month the feature would be about Medium but that was before I realized that NaNoWriMo starts next month and I'd like to offer a challenge to you writers.

"National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with a first draft. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists." source: About NaNoWriMo 

The satisfaction from completing a NaNoWriMo month and being a "winner" is unique to each of us and cannot be understated.  My first NaNoWriMo was 2010. I learned about NaNo from a friend who asked me to join her in the challenge of completing a novel. She ended up dropping out but I "won". A winner is someone who completes the challenge ,which is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I had a regular job but would get up at 6am to spend an hour writing before going to work. I had a personal goal to write 1,667 words per day. I'm the type of writer who gets bogged down when I tackle writing a novel. I get stuck in the details. What NaNoWriMo did for me was free me from that analysis paralysis. JUST WRITE GIRL! And that's what I did. And what I learned about myself was so much fun.

I would spend that early hour writing and the rest of the day I'd think about it. Perhaps that evening, after work, I'd reread what I wrote and tweak it and do some minor editing. I found reading it out loud was a fabulous way to see if the words and topic flowed or easily find the places where it snagged or bogged down. But the most fascinating thing of all was to discover that my characters took on a life of their own when I wrote like this, wrote to meet the daily goal. Every day they'd go places I didn't expect. I had a rough outline when I started about where I wanted the story to go, but many times I found my characters had other ideas. Sounds crazy, right? I know it does but that's how it happened for me and I loved it. Finding that flow and going with it is an amazing feeling I'd never have had without the NaNo challenge.

After finishing my first challenge in 2010 I was hooked. I have started it every year and sometimes I don't finish but sometimes I do. To date I have completed three novels, one memoir, and one collection of short stories. The collection of short stories was written last year. I had this goal of 30 Stories in 30 Days, a different story every day. And I don't know which is more difficult, to write a whole novel or to do 30 stories.

The BAWL write-ins were a huge help for me in completing the stories last year. The group was so supportive and for at least two days per week I had a prompt from which to build a story. Maxie even called me one day when I hadn't shown up at the write-in to make sure I was doing okay and on target. This is one of the huge benefits of the write-ins and how wonderful the group is in encouraging each other.

NaNoWriMo has various methods to prompt and help writers stay motivated and active. All along the way you unlock badges as you reach new milestones. And that looks like this:

If you're interested you can check out all my details (you'd have the same sort of page after you join NaNoWriMo) here.

NaNo offers various methods and tools to keep you motivated and active. I like the statistics page that gives you feedback on your writing habits. One of the main motivators is joining a group of other NaNo participants and sharing the pain because believe me when you're about halfway, you start to wonder how you're going to make it. Everyone needs encouragement.

So it is now mid-October and NaNoWriMo begins in two weeks. You may say, Oh My Goodness NO WAY but pause for a moment and think about it because what do you have to lose? That's about how much notice my buddy gave me and I did it and if I can do it so can you!

I have never been an active member of a NaNo group and I've never started a group of my own but I just created a group this morning in case there are other BAWL members who would like to join me in participating in NaNoWriMo 2023. The name of the group is BAWL and you can access it via this link. There are other groups which may interest you, this one for example.

As you can see the Houston group offers many other social media accesses like Discord, Facebook, and Twitter/X. They also have virtual and in-person meet-ups and you can see their plans and scheduled events via their Google Calendar.

I am a member of the Houston group but I have never utilized any of their services.

As previously mentioned I found my best support from BAWL, twice per week write-ins, that are hosted by Becky and or Carol. Those events are via Zoom. The COVID lockdowns were the catalyst for going to Zoom but I think most people are very happy to continue with Zoom and perhaps add in-person gatherings when we can get that sorted out. My only frustration with the write-ins, as it pertains to NaNoWriMo, is that they are only twice per week! The group that I created on NaNo is real time, anytime. But even better than that, we have decided to have NaNo support write-in sessions every day during the month of November at 9am cdt. EVERY DAY!  We'll be there to support you as we ourselves do our daily word goal. If you're interested, please go to EVENTS and sign up. You will get the Zoom dial-in information in a response email.

All that said (or written), you don't have to join any group or participate in any write-ins. The NaNo journey is yours to do with as best suits your style and needs.

November 1st looms large and I know this is short notice but I hope you will join me this year in the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel (or whatever - there is no constraint on the sort of book you want to create) of no less than 50,000 words in 30 days. And it's 100% free!

If you're already a NaNoWriMo member and participant I hope you'll reach out to me on the site to be friends or join the group. If you want to have a NaNoWriMo forum topic here on the BAWL website, let me know and I'll create it.

"Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."
--Franz Kafka

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