Watching the NaNoWriMo Forums

Continuing a trend that started after a few years of doing NaNo, I rarely contribute to the forums anymore. It’s sort of a case of “been there, done that.” There are, when it comes right down to it, a limited number of topics possible and they are repeated from year to year. Meaning that nothing much changes. What makes it mildly interesting is how the different threads shape up, starting in October and continuing through November.

First up are the newbies wondering how it all works, do they have what it takes to get through the month, how many chapters should their book contain, and should they go with this idea or that idea?

It’s the stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with writing, or is, at best, marginal that I find fascinating. What’s your favorite clothing to wear when you’re writing/doing NaNo? What’s your favorite drink/snack? What does your writing place look like?

There’s a tea swap, believe it or not, where people sign up to send each other their favorite teas (three varieties, with enough of each for five cups). There’s even a post card swap. New for this year, as far as I’m aware is a thread about Starbucks’ secret menu. According to one spoil sport who worked for the company, there’s no such thing, but there are recipes you can find online and give to the barista to make up for you.

This sort of thing takes up a fair amount of the forums and is, to my way of thinking, a clue to why only a few thousand writers complete the month out of the more than a half million people who sign up. NaNo is just as much a huge one-month social bash as it is a writing challenge. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ever-growing popularity is due to the social aspect more than the challenge. The always-huge thread about how to up your word-count without actually doing much writing is further testimony.

It’s a great resource for sociologists, if nothing else.


5 thoughts on “Watching the NaNoWriMo Forums

  1. Being over here in Australia, Catana, when I first heard of NaNo a couple of years ago, I thought US writers went on some kind of summer camp retreat for a month – living in cabins, boating on the lake, etc. – when not writing, of course. How disappointed I was when you told me the writers stay at home and slave away in their own little rooms, My favourite gear is pyjamas for 1st draft material in the mornings and dark chocolate any time at all.

  2. “It’s a great resource for sociologists, if nothing else.”

    Or for people who are social by nature? Jo/e hasn’t written a word for several years. The minute I said “NaNoWriMo Write-In” to him, he started gearing up to write his NaNo novel.

    I can write with or without social support, but I do have more of a tendency to write stories if I’ve been witnessing other writers talking about the process of writing. Particularly if the process of writing they’re talking about is writing every day.

  3. It’s a huge social bash, for sure. I have minimal interest in that part of it, except for observing. Like you, I don’t need any social support for my writing. In fact, I avoid it. But if it helps people like Jo/e get back to writing, it’s one more reason why it’s a good thing. For me, it’s about self-discipline and focus. The 50,000 word goal does help. I just wish I could figure out why I can’t manage to be that focused every month of the year, without any external carrots.

    1. Because virtually every single writer on the planet struggles with this? It’s instructive to read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog. He’s as committed and prolific as any writer could be. And some days he just doesn’t write.

      1. Sure, we all struggle with it. That “command” that you must write every single day has to be terribly discouraging to new writers. Probably scares them off by the hundreds. I go weeks without writing anything. When I’m doing NaNo, I build up a big head of steam (words) right at the beginning because I know I’m going to have to take days off. But the structure does help keep me on course.

        I haven’t read DWS in a while. Used to read him regularly, now just when someone points out an interesting post.

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