Last year I successfully completed NaNoWriMo. Although the experience was positive, and made a lasting improvement in my writing technique, I decided not to take part this year because I wanted to focus on completing existing projects. What I did not expect was that not participating would produce a noticeable reduction in my productivity.
Most of the forums and groups I use are in full NaNo support mode and I fully support this. NaNo is hard even if you are in the habit of writing frequently. And – while this has produced a large volume of discussions about methods of fast writing and such – it is no more difficult to exercise the willpower to avoid them than it is to avoid any of the other ways social media can become a time sink. Most NaNo advice threads are even tagged in some way, or at least can be identified by the original post. The issue I am facing is that the opposite is less true. Discussions which start about say finding the best software for compiling a short story collection morph into a discussion of the best software for managing a NaNuScript. Where this focus is a natural artefact of the internet it is tolerable – if not perfect; but, I am still surprised at having one of my posts deleted from a reasonably famous site because it was not about issues with NaNo.
Personal interactions suffer less impact. With people I know I can ask a question in the reasonable knowledge they will address the question, or at least accept a gentle prod back. But they are still affected: for anyone who does not write 1600+ words a day habitually, NaNo consumes much of their time; so they spend less time on discussing non-NaNo writing too.
In parallel with the impact on access to writing advice, is a reduction in relaxing off-topic discussion. As any member of a group, club, or forum will attest, as well as discussion of whatever the gathering is about members socialise. For me, this integrated socialising created little 5 minute unwinding sessions. But during NaNo some socialising moves to the NaNo forums, and some people withdraw to focus on their writing.
I do not see a solution to this. In fact, I do not consider a slight impact for one month of the year something that needs a solution. If anything, the way the community rallies around people who might be trying to write for the first time fills me with joy.
I am however surprised at how much I have come to need writing forums as a part of my meta-process rather than just a source of occasional answers, and wished to let anyone else affected by non-participation know they are not alone.
Does NaNo impact your writing when you are not participating? Can you write easily without frequent interaction with other writers?