D. C. Wynters started telling stories in second grade but after a creative writing class in sixth grade and a two-week writing spree in eighth, he started to get serious about writing. Now, armed with a second-hand laptop, more notebooks and pencils than should be under one roof, and a boundless mind, he is pursuing his dream of publishing his stories. In the meantime, he runs, learns, and works way too much. You can follow him @DCWynters on Wattpad.
Not too long ago, the Go Teen Writers blog and many of the blog readers participated in November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a time when all levels of authors attempted to write 50,000 words in thirty days. While the event ended on November 30, the fun can keep going. The annual event is arbitrated by a nonprofit called NaNoWriMo, which manages another event: Camp NaNoWriMo.
Camp NaNoWriMo is very similar to NaNoWriMo, but takes place during April and July and each author gets to decide their own goal. Also, Camp NanoWriMo sorts people into “cabins.” These are digital groups of writers who can communicate with each other over chat and can see each other’s profiles, which could include a short synopsis and an excerpt from each author’s manuscript in addition to the regular profile information.
After writing 50,000 words in November of 2015, I decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo with the writing club at my school. The experience was amazing and invaluable to me as a writer; it opened my eyes to a better way to go about writing and helped me recognize that all writers (and their processes) are different. What I learned from Camp is that it is far better to write in a community than to write alone.
Many writers are used to writing solo and find it comforting. It could be the only time of the day they experience peace and quiet. Or it could be that they need to detach from friends and minimize human interaction to be productive.
But there is another way!
The writing club at my school hosts unofficial “write-ins” where participants come to the library and write for an hour and a half after school. The write-ins I participated in were not widely attended (they were on Friday afternoons), but the people who came always had good things to say. While participants spent the majority of the time typing, we did talk. We shared each other’s writing struggles and story concepts. We encouraged each other and shared our strategies. As we wrote together, I spent a lot less time distracted by the Internet and became excited anew by my manuscript. I also felt better coming out of write-ins having encouraged people along the way. Imagine walking away from a writing session feeling happy and refreshed rather than exhausted and discouraged!
Another benefit of talking to other writers about my manuscript was that it forced me to give solid words to describe something nebulous in my mind. I have been working on my current manuscript for almost three years and so trying to articulate what it is about was difficult but valuable. Plus, sharing snippets of my work allowed me to get feedback, as well as gauge the level of my writing skills. For those who spend all their life writing in solitude, they might think they were the greatest writers in the world! But with others evaluating your work, it can either be a helpful knock down for the prideful or a leg up for those who speedily self-depreciate. Recently, I assembled a list of beta readers and created a critique group with some of my writer friends. The feedback my beta readers gave me showed me problems I previously had not seen or did not know how to improve and helped me fix them.
Whether you write for fun or are close to publishing your debut novel, I recommend that you get into a writing group. This could be made up of fellow writers, friends, or even acquaintances that are interested in your writing. Once you find a group, discuss your goals for the group and decide what you will and won’t do. You can write together by doing write-ins or word sprints. You can brainstorm with each other. You can ask for feedback. And best of all, you can encourage each other. If you cannot meet in person, then you can find ways to meet online by: setting up a blog, a wiki, using email loops, or a private Facebook group.
One of the greatest parts of writing is discovering what works best for you; there is every reason to apply that to writing with other people. Hopefully you will find something as helpful to you as Camp was for me. May you meet new friends, improve your work, and discover for yourself a community for writing!
If you are part of a writing group: How did you find your group? What do you do in it?
If you are not part of a writing group: What are you looking for in one? Share in the comments.