It’s November – and it’s National Novel Writing Month!
You can join at: www.nanowrimo.org
I’m joining the 300,000+ writers in writing my novel. This is my second year participating in this venture. Besides having fun and writing 57,000 words last year, I learned some interesting things about collaborating in a crowd.
When you think about collaboration, you first think about a Shared Goal — that you and others will accomplish together, usually as a team. The Shared Goal for NaNoWriMo is that each individual writer will write at least 50,000 words in one month toward completing a novel. So how do you collaborate with others to achieve your goal?
NaNoWriMo has organized regions throughout the country and encourages you to join Write-ins. Write-ins are held at Starbucks, Libraries, Parks, Schools — just about anywhere the regional rep can find. The phenomena I observed at my first Starbucks Write-in (and subsequent Write-ins), where 7 of us crowded two tables and plugged out computers into the outlets, was the effectiveness of crowding to collaborate.
First –Rapport — is established each time some one new squeezes into the crowd. Your name? Novel idea? 1st time? The simple act of giving your name and greeting others creates bonds of good will that last through the session. Sessions lasting as long as the writer wants to stay. You are free to join any crowd at any Write-in.
Second – Task — each novelist starts writing – or gets back to writing after the Hello, who are you…is completed. Writers have bought into the very loose writing standards of NaNoWriMo, and feel comfortable jumping to the task of writing. They find encouragement from the crowd where others are writing and/or thinking too. They are just part of that cool crowd.
Third – Break — almost always occurs after 20-30 minutes of concentrated writing. I can’t explain this one – at every Write-in I attended the Break happened. Each person stopped, looked about, stretched. That moment to relax – that moment to regather focus – that moment to go blank. Having won rapport, speaking up in the crowd was easy, even for those who were shy.
Fourth – Energy — from eating and talking at the break produced another fast and furious bout of writing. Encouraging words, coffee refills, cranberry muffins – all the ingredients gave the crowd renewed energy. Back to writing reinvigorated, the crowd renewed itself.
Did every NaNoWriMo writer get to 50,000 words in November’s 30 days? No. That was not necessarily everyone’s specific goal. Many writers simply wanted to write. They found encouragement from the crowd, they gained confidence from the crowd, and they had fun.
Crowding to Collaborate
Perhaps, you have experienced this crowd phenomena at work — where diverse people with the Shared Goal worked closely together — each with specific or unique tasks. If so, you were probably working under a nurturing framework that encouraged both individual achievement and group collaboration.
NaNoWriMo sets up such a framework that encourages and supports individual success through crowd collaboration. It also aspires to engage and encourage youngsters to write through its educational support and fundraising efforts. This is a unique experience that any one can enjoy — and succeed.
Why not try it? You can join at: www.nanowrimo.org