#NaNoWriMo2020: Writing in the Time of Corona

November is almost upon us, and the Sword of Damocles that continues to hang over this year begs the question....

Is it safe to even try doing NaNoWriMo this year? Surely my laptop will spontaneously combust or something, won't it? (That's not a suggestion, Universe. Seriously. Stop it.) 

In all seriousness, though, trying to do even a regular NaNo write-in feels like it carries far too much risk right now. ...and yet... is there any activity more suited to social distancing? Especially now with online writing sessions and heading into an early winter (at least here in the Midwest). So, why not?

"Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was, too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything than nothing at all."

~Katherine Mansfield

It's the day before and you haven't even started prepping, you say? It doesn't matter. Any writing you do during this time is words on the page you didn't have before, right? And to help you out, I've got some good resources to get the ball rolling.

First, let's make sure everyone's up to speed.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the purpose is to write an entire 50,000+ word novel in 30 days. You read that correctly.

Why would anyone subject themselves to this?

Depending on how much prep you do (Read: how much of a masochist you are), NaNoWriMo can feel like being kicked off a cliff, forced to dive headfirst into a story you may not have fully fleshed out in your mind like a scene from Looney Tunes. 


This can be terrifying, but it can also be freeing. 


Knowing that you don’t have oodles of time means you can let go of that self-critique and that self-editor and just write. No, it isn’t likely to be a masterpiece when you’re done, but it will be done. You’ll have to edit it no matter how long it takes you to write it, but you can’t edit it if it doesn’t exist, right? Right. 


So get started. If nothing else, you can create a daily practice that will also help you get closer to your goal. Every word you write - every sentence, paragraph & page - is one you didn’t have before.

When & Where does it happen?

NaNoWriMo happens every year for the entire month of November. It is largely virtual, though there are regional groups that meet for write-ins and other NaNo-related events. [This year it is entirely virtual.]

Can I write with others?

Absolutely. Joining up with other writers to do write-ins, sprints, and Zoom sessions is a big part of the fun. 

[Please use safe health practices if you meet with others to do in-person write-ins.]

Aren’t there other events/challenges like these?

NaNoWriMo was the original event, but more events have been added over time:

  • Preptober (October): Prep month for NaNoWriMo’s main event. [See below]

  • NaNoEdMo (March): National Novel Editing Month is for the purpose of editing an entire novel in the month of March (often the same novel participants wrote in November).

  • Camp NaNoWriMo (April & July): This event is like NaNoWriMo, but you can choose your own goals (word count limit, drafting vs editing, etc.).

  • NaBloWriMo (an unofficial event; it used to happen every October, but happens sporadically now): National Blog Writing Month is for the purpose of writing one blog post every day (or every two days) of the month it’s being held.

  • There are other monthly timed artistic challenges like Inktober, Gloomtober, and so much more!

Do I have to write a novel?

It is not required that you write a novel. You can be a NaNoRebel, and work on something else. That's what I'm doing this year, as I work on website copy for a new website.


Be aware, however, that being a NaNoRebel means that you would not be able to submit your project through the official NaNoWriMo site and receive their prizes, etc. Don't take this to mean it is then not worth it. Again, words you have after NaNo are still words you didn't have before NaNo.

Do I have to sign up for anything?

You don’t have to sign up on the website, but there are benefits to officially signing up if you finish your novel, and submit it (for word count only; they don’t read it, critique it or steal it). You also get to find more like-minded individuals and toot your own horn when you reach goals, and there is a lot more!

How do I sign up?

  1. Go to https://nanowrimo.org/. You can sign up with email and password, or with your Google or Facebook account (making it even easier). 

  2. Under the “My NaNoWriMo” menu, you can set up your profile as much or as little as you like. This is also where you will set up your Projects, check your Stats, and connect to other people (“Buddies”) for general commiseration purposes.

  3. Once you’re done with your profile, check the Community menu and click Find a Region to find and set your Home Region. This will help you find others to connect to in your area. You can also find Forums, Groups, and learn more about the community and how to get more involved if you’re interested.

  4. Finally, check the “Writer’s Resources” menu for Prep, Pep Talks, and more.

How much prep do I need to have?

You don’t have to have any if you don’t want to. If you rolled out of bed, saw this post, and thought "hmm..I'd like to, but Halloween and one day to plan..." well, I've got a tip for you:


You don't have to have everything planned on Day 1.


You don't even have to have anything planned on Day 30. If you have an idea in your head and you just want to start writing, join the scores of writers known as the Pantser. If, on the other hand, you prefer to plan things out, you may be a Plantser.


Either way, you’re doing it right.


So check out https://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep-101 for a crash course on getting started. Or follow one of these links:

Quick-plotting Resources

How can I keep focus?

Pomodoro Timers

Pomodoro Technique: A Pomodoro ('pomo' for short) is a time management technique used for accomplishing tasks and projects that require a large time investment. Work sessions are broken down into small time chunks (typically around 25 min), with short breaks in between (5 min). After completing 3 or 4 of these work sessions, you take a longer break (typically 10-15 min).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykMzzZolhdk

Focus Apps/Extensions

  • Forest app/extension: Set a productivity timer that blocks you from certain apps for that time; every productive block of time gives you points toward planting a real tree somewhere in the world

  • Stay Focused app: Use to set limits on time spent on phone apps or your phone altogether.

  • Mercury Reader extension: Simplifies articles on the web by removing ads and other minutiae to create a simplified reading experience

Groups for Writing Sessions

Social Media

If you want to connect with others, check out news, share how you’re progressing and more, here are some resources to help you get started. Remember to look for local chapters in your region through NaNoWriMo.org!

NaNoWriMo Social Media Sites

Hashtags

Find more here, or search on Google.

  • #nanowrimo 

  • #nanowrimoprep

  • #nanowrimoupdate

  • #preptober

  • #wordcount

Sanity Resources

5 Ways to Stay Sane During NaNoWriMo -
https://mseditors.com/2015/11/04/5-ways-to-stay-sane-during-nanowrimo/

Stocking Up - Snacks, Beverages & Healthy Meal-Planning

Inspiration - Writing Quotes

"I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear Readers, are an afterthought."

~Gertrude Stein


"Writing is nothing more than a guided dream."

~Jorge Luis Borges


"One does not only wish to be understood when one writes; one wishes just as surely not to be understood."

~Friedrich Nietzsche


"Writing always means hiding something in such a way that it then is discovered."

~Italo Calvino


"In the end, the poem is not a thing we see; it is, rather, a light by which we may see and what we see is life."

~Robert Penn Warren


"Writing is busy idleness."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


"If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity and let my efforts be known by their results."

~Emily Brontë


“Littera scripta manet.”

(“Words fly, writings remain.”)

~Proverb


"The original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate."

~François René de Chateaubriand


"Writing is the unknown."

~Marguerite Duras



However you decide to jump into this year's NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best of luck.

If you want some more of these, I've got a more in-depth resource document on my Patreon site.

What do you think?

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