How do YOU observe NaNoWriMo?

Happy Friday, fellow writers! This week’s forum is aimed at novelists, or those with aspirations to become one:

How do YOU observe NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a challenge taken by writers in the US (and the world over) who aim to write a 50,000 word, 175 page novel in the course of thirty fun, frantic, and fear-filled days. While many of us struggle to get words on the page, and then nitpick over what we do manage to get out, NaNoWriMo’s 1,667 words-a-day challenge pushes us to produce now and edit later.

Are you participating? First time? What are you working on? Do you have NaNoWriMo traditions besides word count– favorite cafes, comfort foods (god knows we’ll need them), or WINES, perhaps? Let us know below!

The Internet: Writing Friend or Foe?

Hello wordsmiths,

It’s Forum Friday and as such time for another open discussion among the writing community.

Today’s issue is the internet.

Here’s the question:

Do you disconnect from the internet when you write? Do you find that it helps? What, in your estimation, are the advantages of writing with internet access and do they outweigh the obvious disadvantages (Facebook, email, StumbleUpon, etc. etc. etc.)?

I did a little experiment today: this morning, after a single round of checks (email, blog, and news) I flipped that tiny switch on the forefront of my laptop from right to left and thus turned off the wireless.

Now, I use the internet for a number of things when it comes to writing: music (which I find both mood-creating and productivity-boosting); research; a Thesaurus and Dictionary that is far more up-to-date and comprehensive than what my Microsoft Word 2003 has to offer.

However, in the course of my little experiment this morning I realized that I also unwittingly use the internet for other things whilst writing: an alarming number of quick, almost reflexive “I’m stuck on this sentence / just got to a stopping point, so I think I’ll pull up Firefox and see if anything is new on __________ and ____________ and ______________” checks, for instance. At least SEVEN TIMES between eight thirty and noon I caught myself absentmindedly opening that internet window. And if each of those instances had led to just another few clicks or words, can you imagine how much time that would have eaten up? Five minutes, twenty minutes, an hour? (For regardless of what you’re doing, if your browser is open chances are good that one click will lead to another.)

Honestly, I think that even when I MEAN well– when I open the browser to look up a word, or fact-check, or Google-image something so I can better describe it– I get sucked into the availability of information and distractions. And yes, I remain logged out of Facebook until evening, but that doesn’t mean I don’t check email a laughably unreasonable amount of times.

So how did my writing go today? Well, by noon I had written 587 words. That’s rather good for me (considering my heavy habit of self-editing).

I’ll try it again tomorrow.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try writing without internet access for a day, or at least a few hours– and see what happens! Then tell us all about it.

Forum Friday: A Question For All Writers

Welcome to the first Forum Friday (on its test-run during the month of August) here at the Read Room. These posts are intended to create a space for conversations about process, craft, grammar, and all things writerly. Anyone can participate, and everyone is encouraged to – so grab your best writin’ cap, pull up a chair, and let’s get to business!

My first question to the writing community is the most basic of all:

Why do you write?

Answer any way you like.