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Writing Gimmicks

Once you dive into the online writing community you'll start to notice all these odd hashtags and phrases that seem to be a hidden language for writers only. Things like #amwriting or #WIP (work in progress) or #nanowrimo (national novel writing month). There are also trends you'll see come and go like the #6amclub or things like #moodpitch or #revpit. All of these things sound like nonsense to someone just starting out in the writing world, but they each serve a purpose in getting writers to do the one thing we're really resistant to do... write.

These writing gimmicks are a way to build community and create accountability between writers. I have taken part in some of these things and stayed far away from others. The 6am club is a group of people who get up and actually start writing at 6am, then post about it on Twitter so others in the club know they aren't alone. Some even take part in a 5am club. I know that no matter how hard I try, I will never ever be a part of these clubs. I have, however, done something called camp NaNoWriMo and found it wildly helpful for working towards my writing goals.

Nation Novel Writing Month takes place in November. The premise is to write a 50,000-word manuscript in a single month. It's designed to push writers to spew out a first draft and not spend a bunch of time editing while they write. So many people struggle with just getting words on the page. In April and July, the organization does a "camp." It's essentially the same as what you would do in November– which is join friends or a "cabin" and work on writing goals together.

I did my first camp NaNoWriMo in July 2015. I had just learned about it (through Tumblr) and knew I wasn't going to be able to write a 50,000-word manuscript, but I could use it to motivate me to finish my current novel. I joined a random cabin because I didn't have any writing friends and set my goal at 30,000 words. I kept working on the story I was more than halfway through with thinking this camp was going to be a total waste, but something about seeing my word count go up, inching closer to my goal made me write faster. Even though they were people I didn't know, it also was motivating to see the other people in my cabin growing closer to their writing goals. I became less concerned with mapping out the story perfectly and more focused on just getting the story out.

Of course, now it's eight years later and I'm still working on edits and tweaks to that same manuscript, but that's how it goes sometimes. There are so many people who start story after story and never find the energy or motivation to finish it. These little gimmicks might seem silly, but they've been around for so long because they work.

My writing group decided to join Camp NaNo in April of this year and while none of us met the goals we set, it still was nice to see our progress slowly move together. It made me feel less alone as I trudged through my never-ending pile of edits. It also inspired me to work on new things. My goal in April was literally called "write anything." That meant I counted the word count from this blog, from my edits, and from anything new I created. Writers are told time and time again that we just have to sit down to write, but it's hard to do when you feel alone. I've already talked about building my writing community, but if you don't have friends or some connection to get into a group, these gimmicks are a great way to build your community.

There are even gimmicks to help once you've written your book and aren't sure what to do next. There's #AskanAgent and #amquerying but also things like mood pitch and rev pit. These are campaigns that happen on Twitter a few times a year. They're opportunities for writers to connect with agents. Mood pitch is literally when writers post a mood board for their books and agents can like it and ask more. It's so completely different from the traditional query letter form and creates a new channel to access agents. Rev pit is a way to get professional feedback on your story. it's short for revise and resubmit. Again, it's a source of building community and helping writers get further in their publishing goals.

At the core of each of these gimmicks is the idea that you are not alone as a writer. There are hundreds if not thousands, of other people sitting at desks, trying to get the story inside them onto the page and into the hands of others. These gimmicks might seem campy (literally) or cheesy, but they're tools waiting to be used. As we move into July, another round of Camp NaNoWriMo is starting and I encourage you to try it if you never have before. You can find me there and watch my writing goal slowly grow as you also work towards your goal!

My winners banner from 2015 when I finished the rough draft of my first novel

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