Today I went to a write in for NaNoWriMo. That means that a bunch of people in our region got together to get some writing done.
The first time I went to one, I was so nervous. I remember changing my mind about going multiple times until I finally decided I was going to do it no matter what. Then when I got there I was super shy, hung out at my table (which they had to set up when I got there because there was no more room left) and then we did a word war. Which I, of course, thought was fantastic, until they started going around giving word counts and I realized that I had a word count that was about double what everyone else was giving and I had to frantically recount just to make sure I wasn't lying.
I hadn't gotten it wrong, of course, hence how I ended up with my current nickname. But at the time, I was a nervous wreck, certain I was going to do something wrong.
I learned something useful that day. A few things, really. First (and most important) you can't 'do something wrong' at a write in. Well, you can, but only if you do it on purpose. Second, write ins help out a lot.
Not only did that one write in add competition to the whole concept of writing, but it also helped me to realize just how many people were out there writing. How many people gave up their Novembers to the insanity that is Nano. And it also made me realize that, yes, there are other people like me out there. People who have characters talking to them, and for the first time, I really fit in.
Now I go to every single write in. The ones during November, the ones during the rest of the year, because I belong now. I've found a place for myself, and I couldn't be more ecstatic. Not all write ins are productive, of course. Some are more for the purpose of catching up with other people that you have met in your journeys. But I find that even when I'm at one of these write ins where more talking than actual writing happens, it's helpful. To hear everyone's word counts, or see someone running up to that bell to ring it. I love it all, and it motivates me to write more than anything else in the world (aside from competition, of course...) It doesn't really matter, because it's those write ins that keep me going throughout the month.
Today happened to be a very productive write in. This was thanks, in large part, to a longer time frame. (Because of previous issues we had to change the venue, and in order to get tables, we had to get there early. Then the new venue gave us a room, instead of tables and we didn't, but we had already decided to go, so it ended up being 5 hours long.) But it was also thanks to the mass amount of word wars that we did.
Normally we're at a restaurant, and people are ordering food, and there's a lot of table hopping. Today felt more like we were getting down to business. We did word war after word war, and I don't think there is a single person who went today (who joined in the wars) that went home thinking about how unproductive they had been.
And the greatest part was all the new faces. People who have never been to write ins before came out in full force, and I couldn't help but remember my first write in, and hope that theirs was just as good as mine.
If you don't go to write ins in your region, trust me, they're worth it. They're filled with crazy writers who all complain about their characters and give you quirky nicknames. They're awesome. And they will push you forward, even when you're struggling or behind. And maybe, just maybe, you'll push someone else too, and realize that nano isn't just about getting those words down. It's about the community around you. Put yourself out there. You wont regret it.