Archive for the ‘NaNo’ Category

the lonely writer

Writing is a solitary hobby. Endless hours sitting at that blasted blinking cursor, in a quiet room, waiting for inspiration to filter through our fingertips, onto the keyboard, and onto the screen. Loving everything we write, and the next day, as if awaking from a hangover, regretting every word combination we ever created. And yet there’s something intensely desirable about it. We all can’t be masochists. So what helps us get by?

Community.

I meet with an incredibly talented group of writers once a week, our own personal Writers Guild. One of our best community builders this fall, NaNoWriMo, allowed us to pursue a common goal and cheer one another along, regardless of our place in the journey. We celebrated our progress with an epic hall display, moving our viking ships through the word count sea. Writers would stop by almost every day with an update. Together, we wrote 187,383 words during the month of November. Not too shabby for something they didn’t have to do.

In addition to moving viking ships, we decided to also use a badge system for demonstrating proficiency in each of the major elements of fiction: plot, dialogue, conflict, theme, characterization, point of view, and setting. Writers also earned badges for meeting writing milestones (weekly word count goal, 25K, 50K), plus additional badges for participating in write-ins. Lockers all over the building displayed these badges, affirming yes, I am a writer, and I have a story to tell.

Due to the success of the November NaNo, our writers decided to also participate in Camp NaNo, held annually in April. Instead of earning shield-shaped achievement badges, writers will build their own totem pole with hand-cut (and glued!) animals. Each totem pole will be different, since our writers work at their own pace and determine when they are ready to earn each badge. If writers earn all of the badges, their totem pole will be the same height as their lockers. Plus, it will look pretty awesome, too.

And if you’re wondering what their word count markers will be, they will have both canoes and backpacks, depending on the terrain. More pics and updates to follow.