A few days ago I made a deal with a friend. We both wanted to make some solid progress on our WiPs before Christmas, but were struggling to find momentum – what with the festive season well upon us, kids finishing up at school and everyone seemingly getting into rest and relaxation mode, it’s hard work finding time to write.
And yet, important.
So we made this deal. I wanted to double my current word count (which would give me 20,000 words by Christmas), and she wanted to write a massive 40,000 (or 30,000). They are attainable goals for each of us, it’s just a matter of sitting down and making the time.
Since then I have actually been getting my writing done. I’m sitting at 13,000 words now, and at this pace I will easily make the 20,000 mark. I’m connected to my novel again (now that I’ve pushed past the slump of 10,000 words) and so very eager to keep writing. I mean, I even cracked out my pen and notebook during the coffee break of my course the other night so that I could scratch out a scene in the ten spare minutes I had – 384 words that I wouldn’t normally have written.
It struck me that I was feeling motivated, accountable. I was seeking out time to write when before I was just hoping that some would come along and present itself to me. It’s shown me that in fact I DO have the time, I just haven’t been choosing to manage it properly – which brings me to the title of this post and the concept of ‘writing alongside’.
This friend of mine isn’t online all day (neither am I). We’re not constantly word warring, or trading stats about where we’re at. But the deal I made with her, and knowing that she’s out there in the world trying to get her own words down on the page, motivates me to push myself to try harder.
And I guess this is why writing groups are so fabulous. Why NaNoWriMo can be an amazing experience – knowledge that other people are working towards their goals at the same time that you are is a huge boost. I guess it’s also why Tama and his crazy writing games have always helped me stay on track, why I like to be in contact with people who are working towards similar goals over similar time frames, and why ultimately, I think that next year is going to be a huge success for me, and my writing.
I don’t need to be in direct writing contact, but I do benefit from knowing that I’m writing alongside others. I benefit from communicating with those at similar stages – so we can commiserate about the things that aren’t working, and rejoice in the things that are, we can celebrate achievements and help keep each other on track.
Next year I am going to be surrounded by other people who are facing the same obstacles – my regular writing group, many of whom are jumping on board with Merrilee and her plan to write a new novel and edit another over 2012. I will have writer friends who are also studying while trying to maintain their writing, and others who are juggling the writing life with parenting. I kind of feel like I can’t go wrong with that level of support, and all of these other individuals writing alongside me.
The internet is such a wonderful resource – there are SO many ways to connect to writers from all over the world – so make the most of it. Reach out, find others who are on this journey, who share common challenges with you, or who you can really connect with. Yes, writing is a solitary business, but no-one can flourish if they remain shut away in a room by themselves. Do yourself, and your writing, a favour and find someone to write alongside with – I guess you could say that is my Christmas wish for you, because it’s the best gift my writer friends have given me.