Big World Writing Club: How It All Began

Post by Big World Writing Club Moderator A1

How did the Big World Writing Club begin?

Like many an adventure tale, it all started with helping out a friend in need.

Actually, I owed her.

Meet the other half of the A-Team, my Brain Sister. (A2).

(Our subscripts are strictly chronological and in no way represent our ranking in this or any other universe. I’m A1, the troublemaker who first proposed the dare, and she’s A2, the one who took it up and ran with it.)

A2 beta-read my third NaNo novel (2010), also the first one that actually had a completed plot arc. Along with some tremendously useful feedback, the kind that only a confirmed long-term reader and print addict can give, she gave me piles of books to read.

“I can’t believe you haven’t read…”

I counted them up, at the end of last year. It’s come to 2 or 3 million words of book-mongering. And each reading was followed up by in-person and e-mail analysis, response, and meditation on genre, also known as Writer Burble.

So, yeah, when she confessed to doing NaNoWriMo several times, but not having finished, I said, “Well, let’s try running some sprints in the off-season.”

We started off with the MiniNaNo, which is 1667 words/day for a week. That gives you something like 11,000 words total by the end of the week, and gives a nice taste of the daily routine of National Novel Writing Month.

We did one of those a month for May, June, July, and August last year. Then our day jobs intervened, but we did National Novel Writing Month, and I am pleased to say that my Brain Sister and I both took our place in the 2011 winners’ circle. Our common journey was more than fruitful:

  • She finished NaNo for the first time.
  • I’m now something resembling a full-time writer, because the momentum of writing every day often carried forward to the week after MiniNaNo, and some  of those 11,000-word thingies turned into 30,000 words.

What did it? Well, getting together at various locations and just applying butt to chair, fingers to keyboard, and giving ourselves the additional prod of a timer running: which is to say, the basic write-in.

With the zeal of the convert, we both told friends about it, and thus was the Big World Writing Club born. The write-in can get you unstuck no matter who you are or what you’re writing, whether it’s a thrilling steampunk adventure, a technical paper about computer science, a manga fan-fiction, your dissertation, or the latest post for your blog.

(Disclosure: this post is being drafted at a Big World Writing Club write-in. It will be edited later, but the meat of the matter will have been downloaded from brain to screen.) Our current membership includes students, a variety of education professionals, good old-fashioned pulp writers, programmers, social justice activists, memoirists, fan-fiction writers, novelists both silly and serious, screen-writers and playwrights, and various intersections thereof.

One of our members wrote a (relatively) painless dissertation in mathematics using the write-in and the basic methods of a novelist. (More on this in a later post).

Others have taken the write-in (and its close cousin, the read-in) into educational practice in post-secondary settings, inspired by a MnNaNo member who used the November novel challenge to give his fifth-grade students a year-long practicum in book production, from brainstorming and first-draft to printing and binding.

In future posts, we’re going to explore various faces of the classic writer’s method of Butt In Chair (BIC). It’s the mighty force that can stand up to the Power of Procrastination, the thing that stands between us and world conquest (or making deadline, which is much the same thing).

That’s the source of our motto:

Writers who write get more written than writers who don’t.

Whether it’s on line or in person, our mission is to help each other get writing done.

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