By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist
For many hopeful authors November 1st means more than just Halloween candy clearance sales. It means more than Q4 deadlines at work, or the first month of the holiday season. November 1st marks the start of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, where writers endeavor to write an entire 50,000-word novel in one month.
This sleepless, caffeine-addled, frenzied event costs writers about 1,667 words per day for the ultimate chance to get their full novel out of their head and onto digital paper – along with hundreds of thousands of fellow writers as a constant support system. The program was founded by Chris Baty in 1999, and it started with four writers from the San Francisco Bay area. Last year nearly 400,000 writers participated.
The sense of community can be particularly felt on social media, specifically on Twitter. #NaNoWriMo trended nationally for nearly the entire month, and millions of tweets went out describing how close (or how far) participating writers were from the finish line, offering words of encouragement for other writers, or even revealing one or two sentences they had written that day that they were proud of.
The event has grown so much that parody Twitter accounts have popped up, such as the popular @NaNoWriMo_txt, which parodies some of the more outlandish or hilarious things that are said in NaNoWriMo forums or other tweets.
While 30 days can seem like too short a time to pen a successful masterpiece, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a draft, get writers to break their patterns of overthinking or over editing, and to take a more freeform “think now, edit later” approach to writing. However, some masterpieces do break through. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen is one example. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is another.
So how can authors maximize their time spent on Twitter while NaNo rages on to provide meaningful content? Here’s how NaNoWriMo participants can engage on Twitter:
-Tweet out your starting word count for the day, then tweet out your ending word count for the day after your writing session. After your last tweet, browse the feed for others in a similar bracket as you, and give them a shoutout.
-Tweet out your favorite sentence (or two) that you wrote that day. A bonus for keeping it under 140 characters so when others re-tweet they can include a word or two of praise.
-Favorite or re-tweet tweets you like from other writers. The NaNo community thrives off of communication and positive support, so extending this hand to others will help ensure that you get the same in return.
-Tweet out words of encouragement. Whether they’re your own, or famous writing quotes from great writers.
-Ask for advice. If you’re stuck, ask for help. #NaNoWriMo tweeters are responsive, and have likely been in the same place. Not sure of a character name? Ask! Instead of falling into a pitfall of distractions Googling for an answer, ask a support system 400,000+ strong for their opinions.
-Give a tip that worked for you that day. Whether it’s something that helped you shut out distractions, or a new blend of coffee that kept you writing for an additional hour, tips go a long way.
The prize? If you verify reaching over 50,000 words on the official website, you are eligible for two paperback copies of your work. The grand prize: bragging rights, a sense of accomplishment, and a whole new set of #NaNoWriMo friends and followers.