It’s day three of NaNoWriMo, and I’m just about to start on today’s sprint. But first, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about write-ins, and how they affect me and my writing.
Last night, on day two of NaNoWriMo, I attended my very first write in at a nearby restaurant. Before I even entered, I could see which group was mine through the windows, considering so many of the tables were full of people and their open laptops. With a smile on my face, I went inside to find my friend Bree. As I lay my bag down on the chair, she presented me with my very own AuNoWriMo mascot, the penguin from the movie Madagascar. She had three of her own, and is even now trying to name them. Me, I know my critter needs a name, but my main man this year is Snoopy (who’s sitting right in front of me on my monitor stand as I type [see photo]).
What I discovered during that ninety minutes was this: being social and sociable is good and all, especially for someone like me who has a tendency to hole up at home and never leave but for the occasional fast food lunch at her favorite burger joint. When it comes to being productive at, say, one’s NaNoWriMo project, the setting may just be too distracting for me. I sat with Bree and our other table companion (who was so engrossed in her project I didn’t have a chance to get her name), but I spent more time eating my dinner (lunch had been 7 hours ag0), juggling dishes and worrying about my battery power than I did actually writing. Even after I’d finished dinner and gotten rid of the plates, I felt I had to find myself an outlet and “jack in” if I were to get anything done. So, I switched to a smaller table already occupied by another WriMo, Allison, and tried again.
After quite a few fits and starts, not to mention a sudden outage in half of the restaurant from a neighborhood power problem, I’d already talked to myself repeatedly, gotten the topic of Allison’s story from her and shared weekend plans, and gotten very little writing done. Even popping in my earphones and starting up my novel’s background mix (I’ve got one for Beth and for Sam, too) didn’t help. I couldn’t seem to tune out the noise of the environment, which is usually not a problem. I actually thrive with white noise. I’ve done experiments to prove it. Last night, though, I heard every clank of every dish, glass or piece of flatware, not to mention the random conversations of the non-writing patrons on the other side of the dividing wall.
Eventually I gave up, still 400 words away from the 2-day goal of 3,333 words. I said “see ya Saturday” to Bree, and headed for home. Since it was still relatively early, I thought why not try and get a little more done. I restarted the background mix, plugged in and fired up my laptop once more, read over what I’d written at La Mad, and got to work. By 11 PM, I’d not only gotten my concentration back, but I’d finished the chapter and clocked in a word count of 4,560 (440 words shy of the Day 3 goal).
In the end, I discovered that I can still go to write-ins, be social and meet others who are going through the same craziness that I am. I just won’t be the one coming in with an impressive word count…until I can return home, curl up on my couch with my cat and my music, and get to work.