We're barely into November, but NaNoWriMo is already in full swing. Writers all over the world are glued to their computers, word processors, typewriters, and notebooks, competing with themselves to see if they can churn out the aproximately 1,667 words per day required to hit the end goal: 50,000 words in 30 days. It might seem challenging, even impossible, but that doesn't stop the Wrimos. If anything, it fuels them.
Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, a bit-of-a-cheater or a late-starter, there's one thing you must have in order to win NaNoWriMo: buddies. You absolutely, 100 percent need NaNoWriMo buddies to back you up when the going gets rough. And it will get rough.
I'm an introvert, so it took a while to actually convince myself that I needed NaNoWriMo buddies. Talking about my work is difficult for me, because it just feels pretentious. While watching The Walking Dead last week, a friend looked over at my laptop and asked if I was writing a book. Cue: instant and completely out-of-character meekness from moi. I nodded with what I hope was humble confidence, but inside I was thinking, I'm just a potato; please leave me alone.
This, surprisingly, doesn't happen with NaNoWriMo buddies. They're your No. 1 best resource in this novel-writing game. Here's why.
1. They're Struggling Just as Much as You Are
You're all going through the same hellish, novel-writing struggle. Because you know everyone's a hot mess, you won't be shy about sharing your worst, most-laptop-chuck-worthy moments with your NaNoWriMo buddies. Trust me, you won't be the only writer who still hasn't figured out how to describe her novel in two sentences, keeps forgetting the name of that one crucial minor character, or has effed up her timeline so bad she's written notes about it for editing time.
2. You Can Count on Them for Advice
If I wanted advice about how to rob a bank, I'd ask the bank robber who's been in prison for six months. Why? Because he's had enough time to think about how he got caught and technological advances haven't made him irrelevant.
Similarly, you can't expect to get good NaNoWriMo advice from Jonathan Franzen. You need someone who has been in the trenches, and who's come out on the other side, for better or worse. You've got to embrace your fellow Wrimos.
3. They Care about You and Your Work
Unlike a lot of professional communities, writer groups aren't particularly competitive. Your NaNoWriMo buddies want you to succeed, and they'll be as kind or brutal as you ask them to be.
4. You Won't Hear Any Discouragement from Them
Even if you do get some con-crit that's a bit heavy on criticism, it won't be to discourage you. NaNoWriMo is a marathon, so if some guy critiques your form, it's only because he wants you to make it across the finish line without injuring yourself.
5. They Send You Impromptu Congratulations
There's nothing better than opening up your NaNoWriMo notifications to a sweet note from one of your buddies congratulating you on making your word count. I'm not joking: this is a thing that actually happens! Because NaNoWriMo buddies are the best, obv.
6. You've Always Got Someone to Turn To
If you have a great network of friends and family who support your writing pursuits, that's wonderful. I've known some folks who don't have that luxury, and they have to fight tooth and nail for every word. For those who have to deal with naysayer parents and partners, NaNoWriMo buddies provide the safety net they need to keep writing when things get tough.
7. They Aren't Going to Let You Fall Behind
NaNoWriMo is a grueling endurance race, so it only makes sense that some participants will end up falling behind the others on the course. But no one really wants anyone else to lose, and they're going to try their hardest to make sure that doesn't happen. From thoughtful notes to letters of encouragement, your NaNoWriMo buddies will be there to lend a helping hand.
8. You Will Never Have Writer's Block for Long
Can't think of what to say? Feel like you've written yourself into a corner? Fire off a quick note to your NaNoWriMo friends and wait for the suggestions to pour in. Problem solved.
9. They Won't Be Scared by Your Google History
Things I have Googled in past book research: will eating a glue trap kill you; butane poisoning death; how deep is the radial artery; fatal spider bites; fatal tickborne illnesses. This is all to say that being a writer is a strange and disturbing thing. Your Google history will undoubtedly make you look like some kind of would-be assassin, but don't worry: You can't scare a fellow writer, because...
10. Your Weirdness Is the Same as Their Weirdness
This is probably the No. 1 reason why I love having NaNoWriMo buddies. Remember the situation I described earlier, with my friend's question? That doesn't happen in Wrimo Land. There isn't any awkwardness in talking about the writing process with them, because they understand it. They know the fandoms you know, the writers you love, the books you hate. They're weird, like you. And that's a beautiful thing.
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