Sunday 23 October 2011

The WriMos Guide to the NaNoWriMo Forums

Together we are STRONGER! (healerslibrary)

When I look back on my previous NaNoWriMo experiences, I remember all the fun I’ve had on the forums. I know it’s not for everyone… and sometimes it feels like more ways to procrastinate.

Am I right or am I right?

BUT. The NaNoWriMo forums are there for a good reason. They not only help us connect to one another, but they also help us connect to our stories better. I know it sounds like I’m on some kind of medication… or I’m secretly being paid by the NaNoWriMo team to promote them endlessly. Come on, have a little faith in me!

To prove my point, I’ll give you all the ways you can make your NaNo journey better by using the forums. They will keep you on track and your story will be better for it.

1. Are you tired of Word? Say that you are, you need to check who’s sponsoring the competition this year (Scrivener, WriteWay, etc.) and what they’re offering (free writing software). I mean, if they’re offering, we must comply and use it, right? What’s free these days?

2. Do you need information? The ‘reference desk’ on the forums is by far MY FAVORITE tool during NaNo. You get help with your research by REAL PEOPLE who are by far the best referencing tool for writers. Yes, the books may be helpful when you’re looking for names of rivers and history facts. But what about slang phrases and climate changes? Instead of digging like crazy and coming up with wrong information, you can ask your fellow WriMos in real time!

3. Are you and your story stuck? That’s what ‘plot doctoring’ is for! You need a name? Plot twist? Opinions? Tips? Anything your story needs, the forums will provide. Come November, the reference desk and plot doctoring heat up so fast, you wouldn’t be able to keep track no matter how much coffee you’ve inhaled! I mean drunk…

4. Are you in need of inspiration and/or motivation? The Reaching 50,000 thread is perfect to keep motivated and fit for the write of your life! We all know we need much more than a good idea to reach the finish line, and that’s mental preparation and some good old-fashioned psyching up!

5. Would you like to adopt? No, not a baby! In the Adoption Society thread you can adopt anything: from a name for your character to a whole plot for your story. People are kind enough to donate their unwanted puppies, so you should really consider giving them the love they need!

6. Would you like to chat with your fellow WriMos? Well, the all-ages coffee house is the place for you. You can talk about anything there, so long as it’s in good fun.

7. During November, you can either scream for joy in the This Is Going Better than I’d Hoped thread or woe and vent in the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul thread. Chances are, you’ll be in one or the other, and more often in both in the same day. It’s like being bi-polar. One minute you’re ecstatic, the next you’re on the bottom of the well. Gotta love the rollercoaster!

8. What do you do when you reach an important cornerstone? You give a shout in the Shoutouts thread. When you’ve written 10K or 20K or 50K, all you want is to cry and laugh hysterically, right? Well, nobody will call you crazy if you do so in this thread. We all understand!!!

9. Would you like to sprint? When you are not #wordmongering your way into a sleep-deprived, caffeine-induced November daze, you can do word sprints, wars, and prompts on the forums. It’s the good life… or so they say about addictive things. :D

10. It’s all about the music, baby!!! While there’s lots of helpful resources in this part of the forums, I’d like to give my full attention to the place where music rules and brings us much needed inspiration during NaNo. Whether you’d like to exchange CD’s or share your music choices (SOUNDTRACKS!), you should definitely check the NaNo Soundtracks thread out!

11. What genre are you writing in? In the genres lounge you can talk to like-minded (or like-crazed) wrimos. While I’ll probably hang out in the mystery and suspense thread, I’ll also be lurking in the fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and YA threads. All the while steering clear from historical and erotic fiction.

12. And don’t forget to join a group!  I don’t always follow my own advice, but it might be fun to talk to your peers while you’re doing NaNo. ESPECIALLY if you’re a newbie! And even though Thou shall not finish old stories during NaNo, the forums provide some space for the NaNoRebels too. And finally, don't forget to check your regional threads. Mine are currently the London and Bulgarian ones.

13. Finally, follow my suit and SHAMELESSLY promote, people! I’m serious! If you provide any vital services for the WriMos round the world, like editing, design, etc., you MUST let them see your awesomeness in the Marketing and Self-Promotions thread.

So… did I convince you or what? In all seriousness, I can’t imagine going through NaNo without being semi-active on the forums. Yes, November’s about cranking up the words and reaching the golden 50K. But if you just do that, you would’ve missed half the point!

We all know NaNo’s about connecting and going through the motions TOGETHER!

When else will you have hundreds of thousands of writers crowded together on a tiny site, feverishly discussing the joys of writing and how many bulbs you need to light a foreign planet?

Or wait… I just made that up. All the same, it’s a unique opportunity.

Don’t squander it.

Have you used the forums before? What’s your favourite thread there?


  1. This post is really helpful, and exciting!

  2. Fun post. The only addendum I would add is to watch out for the naysayers -- in any large group of writers, there is the occasional person who gets a lot of joy out of tearing other people's ideas down and flaunting their supposed authority. I don't mean constructive criticism -- I mean outright hostility and internet swagger. They aren't terribly common on the Nanowrimo forums, but they do exist, and if you're a Nano beginner and feel like you might be easily demoralized or deflated, keep an eye out for these types and ignore them accordingly.

  3. Thanks. I'll probably be lurking in the forums quite a bit :) I wonder when buddies will be available?