Yesterday I joined two online communities that I hope will help in my writing. The first is I finally joined National Novel Writing Month. I’ve known about this thing for years, but have never joined. NaNoWriMo isn’t actually until November, but they do have Camp NaNoWriMo, which takes place in July and August. In each case, the object is to write a 50,000 work novel in a month or less. You can track your progress by inputting your word count as you go, but you’re not declared a winner until you upload the finished draft and specially trained computer robots have checked it for authenticity. Authenticity doesn’t mean quality, it just means making sure you didn’t write “All work and no play make Homer something something” over and over again until the word count reaches 50,000. The purpose of this is to force you to just write, without second guessing or self-editing. Just write until you get to the end and then stop. Editing and revising comes later (the website provides support on that, as well) but in the meantime you’re left with a complete first draft of a novel and a feeling of accomplishment. Novels written in past NaNoWriMos include Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen, so that just goes to show what this event can accomplish.

The other thing I joined is This website is based on the Morning Pages exercise in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. The premise is to write 750 words every day, about anything. This has a similar focus to NaNoWriMo, in that it gets you to just write, without self-editing or over thinking. It should also help form the habit of daily writing, which will help me in NaNoWriMo, as well as be a vehicle for brain dumping all the stuff that’s floating around in my head and fighting for focus. I’ve done it two days in a row, so far, and I find it very freeing. I just write stream of consciousness crap for 750 words (which only takes me about 15 minutes) and then I feel better and can start to write seriously, which is the point.

I’m thinking of writing the novel I’m currently working on as part of Camp NaNoWriMo in the August session, and then coming up with another novel idea for NaNoWriMo in November. If anyone has an idea for a November novel, please leave it in the comments. If I pick one of your suggestions and it ends up getting published, I’ll give you credit in the acknowledgements and a signed copy when it comes out.