Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing some hints and tips about how to improve your writing. These are basic things I have learned over the years, from writers websites, published authors and constructive feedback from friends, family and online pals.
There is an argument that fiction writing cannot be taught because it comes from talent alone, it is in your nature to be creative. Whilst there is some truth in that, even the most creative person needs to learn how to use their ability and make the best of their craft.
This week: Big applause for NaNoTeamIndy!
This weeks topic is about the team spirit behind NaNoTeamIndy, a social group spread across the digital world who support one another in their writing challenge for NaNoWriMo. Aside from their passion for writing they are a good bunch of people, friendly, supportive and funny. Yesterday I reached the 50,000 goal for my NaNo Novel and had a huge smile on my face. Today, before settling down to write more, I wanted to share a few bits and pieces with you about the importance of team spirit.
Writing is a solitary thing, right?
Um, yes and no. It is in that we sit at our computers and tap away on a keyboard. There may be other people around us, friends, family, dogs, bunny rabbits, parrots – hey, why not? But even with a full zoo barking, growling and squawking around us, the writer is still away with the fairies, zoned in on their story, listening to their imaginary friends as they run amok in their Imaginationland. So in that sense, yes, the writer does spend time alone, from a certain point of view.
However, due to the vast array of social networks at our fingertips, the writer isn’t always alone. I suppose that back in the olden days a writer had to travel to find like-minded people, possibly in a horse-drawn carriage. What a life that would be, eh? These days our horse-drawn carriage is a PC and our destination is Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the like. We can open up ourselves to a social world in an instant and withdraw from it just as easily. The writer has the option to be as solitary or as social as they want.
Do I need to be social?
Obviously no. Not if you want to sit alone with your thoughts. But I’ve found that part of the fun of writing is in the sharing. Take the first week of NaNoWriMo for example. Word Battles and Word Sprints were, and still are, a great way to get motivated. This is where Twitter has been extremely useful. A shout out on your favourite Twitter stream, #NaNoTeamIndy for example, for a 30 minute word sprint, and you all start writing like crazy people. At the end someone calls time and you share your word count.
Due to time zone differences this can be tricky, and because I live in England I sometimes miss out on these fun times. But there are other ways to be social and support one another, via blogs, forums, social networking sites etc.
The point is that you, the writer, don’t have to be a lonely reclusive figure.
The power of team spirit.
I’ve been writing since I was a wee nipper, but only in the last few years have I really flourished and found my writing rhythm. I owe this in part to social networking. All writers have doubts about their craft but when you can share your thoughts with like-minded people, those doubts are slowly eroded, to a degree anyway.
I read so much fiction posted by fellow bloggers and at times feel guilty for not giving enough time to provide feedback, instead I hit the like button (if I actually LIKE it) and move to the next post. I’ve never confessed to knowing everything about writing, but I always give constructive feedback where I can.
I’m always surprised when I see positive comments on my own blog, or when I see a new subscriber following me. I guess that’s another element of doubt, or surprise that people like what I have written enough to leave a comment. And it’s those comments that can help reinforce confidence or rebuild confidence that has been knocked.
Everyone likes praise, we like to know what we’re doing is okay, or good or AWESOME! But more than that, it’s the spirit behind those bloggers that shines through. More than once during those early days of NaNoWriMo a few people have expressed their doubts in meeting the 50,000 word challenge. And immediately someone is there to burn their fears to the ground.
Don’t worry about it.
You’re doing fine.
Well done, 10,000 words, yay!
I sometimes imagine the group of bloggers and Tweeps I chat with to be similar to the friends in Cheers. You’ve seen Cheers, right? I watched it for years and in many ways preferred it to Friend’s. It’s the relationships formed that I love, and miss when I’m not there. It’s hard to explain how a friendship can be created via text alone, but trust me it can be. And if you open yourself up to it, you’ll find those relationships are very similar to those in Cheers.
On the surface Cheers was a comedy set in a bar, but if you step back and look at the lifespan of the program it was about true friendship, first and foremost. Sometimes I’ll read a post where the blogger, Tweeter etc is clearly upset or distraught, their voice comes through clearly, something is wrong.
I’m not talking about those pointless bits of teenage junk status you find on Facebook:
“Theres messed up, and then theres really messed up, and then theres cant get any more messed up. and then theres this.”
Please. No one cares. Get on with your life, this isn’t drama it’s bullshit. Just because you CAN share your every thought with the world doesn’t mean you SHOULD!
Anyhoo… No. I’m talking about someone who needs a smile, support, someone to say things will be okay, if you need someone to talk to…etc. And there is always someone there to provide that comfort. And that makes me smile. It reminds me that the world isn’t filled with chaos and hate.
And then there are the good times, a message declaring joy about an achievement or just being happy and wanting to share that with people. I’m still amazed at the number of comments that a good vibe can receive. People like to be happy and they like to share their happiness with others, it’s like a virus, the best kind of virus.
And so to NaNoTeamIndy.
A friend once said to me that even in my darkest mood I will still sit here in my battered chair and write. That writing is in my soul. I was born to be a writer and I driven to write regardless of my mood. If all the computers in the world vanished, if there were no paper or pencils left, I would still scratch my words onto rocks with a stone.
Taking part in NaNoWriMo has been a huge thrill. A challenge that perfectly suited me. But without those friendships formed through social networks and members of NaNoTeamIndy, I would not have found it nearly as much fun as sitting here alone. So I would like to say thank you to everyone who has ever posted a comment on my blog, emailed or Tweeted, because without you, dear blog reader, my passion and enjoyment of writing would never have been rediscovered.
That’s all folks! I think a pizza is order before I settle down to write this evening! On a side note, I’ve just noticed this is my 201st blog post! Yay!
How do view social networking in relation to your writing?
Does it help or hinder your writing?
If you have any writing tips and advice and feel like sharing, pop me an email or rant in the box below!
- Post-A-Day and NaNoWriMo (smokebear.wordpress.com)
- Not Too Late To Get In The NaNoWriMo Game (chicagoist.com)
- NaNoWriMo!! (insanityreignssupreme.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo – Day 15 and I’m back! (alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com)
- National Novel Writing Month – Common Problems And How I Faced Them (chyrondave.wordpress.com)