My first NaNoWriMo as ML… I can breathe now…

NaNoWriMo is nearing an end, and so too is my first year as a Municipal Leader (ML). Finally, I can get the change to sit back and breathe, or perhaps collapse might be a better description. So many active WriMos within the Christchurch region and it was fantastic to interact with you all.

The one thing that I can say about this adventure is that I need to learn to drink coffee or caffeinated drinks, something with more caffeine than chai tea. By time we hit the last week, I was definitely running on empty.

This time last year, when I was just a participant, I had well and truly achieved my 50000 word limit and had validated the moment that the validation window opened. I had a full story written and had worked out how the plot fits into my main series thread (i.e. where the manuscript would sit in the publication sequence). I had even worked out additional story threads within the main series that stemmed from the NaNoWriMo project.

However, this year, it was everything at once. At times, I struggled to stay afloat, and was grateful for the added help that my co-ML provided, and our guest ML for our VWrite-Ins. I found myself spending many late nights just to stay on top of my own writing schedule. And sleep? What’s that?

At one point, I even decided to do some research on which energy drinks were the best for me. Now that’s saying something because I never drink that stuff — I don’t drink coffee — yet here I was, seriously contemplating buying a 1L bottle of Mountain Dew and drinking it within a span of half an hour. The only thing that stopped me from doing it was the fact that I knew from experience I would be bouncing off the walls for hours on end if I had.

The Christchurch MLs for 2015. Judy Mohr (left) and Amy Paulussen (right)

The Christchurch MLs for 2015. Judy Mohr (left) and Amy Paulussen (right)

For the 2015 event, Christchurch had two MLs, and I just happened to be one of them. For both of us, it was a full-on month. Between Amy Paullusen and myself, we ran 9 write-ins at libraries, another 3 at local cafes and coffee shops. We also ran 9 virtual write-ins, with another 2 more to come. We tagged along to the write-ins organised by the Christchurch Writers’ Guild; other regular write-ins were organised by some of my fellow ChChWriMos. The number of impromptu write-ins, in-person and on-line, easily reached over 20. And all this was met with big smiles.

Amy and I were interviewed for a film project that one of our ChChWriMos was doing as part of his coursework in TV journalism. That in itself was fun because it was the first time that I had ever spoken to someone about my writing and what writing means to me — in person, on camera. It was great!

How many words?

“Sorry, not writing enough. Keep writing.”

I’ve had little dolls (sorry, Action Figures) stare at me while I was trying to write, and made some new writing friends that understand this obsessive need that all writers have; it’s a beast that must be feed or it will consume us and drive us crazy.

At the write-ins run throughout Christchurch region, we started something we dubbed the Chip Challenge. It was a simple idea: poker chips with numbers that were your word target for a session. The idea was a massive hit, so much so that those who attended the virtual write-ins also wanted to have a chip challenge. My little goodie box was wiped out within the first two weeks that I was force to restock, but it was all in the spirit of fun and success at achieving those little goals. (For more information on the chip challenge goto here.)

The virtual write-ins (VWrite-Ins) were a huge success. Based on the demand from the participants in the region, we elected to run them through the Facebook Messenger system. So many not in Christchurch proper were able to join in, and at all-godly hours of the night. Nearly 20 different ChChWriMos signed up for the VWrite-Ins, and many of them were active even when I wasn’t on-line, running little impromptu write-ins of their own. (GO TEAM!)

The highlight of the VWrite-Ins was a guest ML visiting us from her own region in the USA. She had a crazy sleep schedule that ironically aligned with ours in New Zealand. It was great to have her involved and she has since become an honorary member of the Christchurch region, even though we will never see her in person.

But NaNoWriMo is not yet over and as ML there are still things for me to do (like plan the Thank-God-It’s-Over party). Regardless, it was still fun and I would gladly do it again. I look forward to next year’s event and already have plans on how to improve things, such as the VWrite-Ins and the goodie box. But as far as I’m concerned, the role of the ML will continue throughout the year. I will be encouraging all Christchurch WriMos to sign up for CampNaNo and to continue writing. I will continue to encourage the networking that started during the VWrite-Ins with other writers from around the country and the world, and remind all of the organisations for writers that already exist in the Garden City.

It was fun, and exhausting. Well worth it.


P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter or Facebook.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2015

Posted in A Writer's Journey, Random and tagged , , .

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