Monday, February 2, 2015

Are You a Loner or a Groupie?

Writing, for me, has always been a solitary practice, one fiercely guarded. Other authors may argue this point, but Stephen King concurs and that was enough for me to feel good about avoiding writers’ groups like the plague. The thought of sharing my work in a room full of people made me twitchy.

Then in late October, in order to jumpstart Book Two of a trilogy, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’d done it in 2012 and reached 19K words. But this time I wanted to go the distance, to reach the 50K-word goal for the win. So, taking a last-minute shot, I registered at the NaNo website, scribbled out a rough table of contents - chapter titles to point me in the right direction as the story developed – and announced on Facebook that I was IN.

Soon after, I saw a post by Margaret Bail calling for NaNo’ers interested in forming a Facebook group. It piqued my interest, but remember, I’m a loner, so I agonized for a bit before deciding to give it a try, and then with the caveat (to myself) that if it hindered rather than helped, I would bow out and go it alone.

In the beginning, I hung back when the other group members “sprinted”, thirty-minute bursts of flat-out writing, but their word counts (and banter) kept appearing in my Facebook feed, and one day when struggling to keep my butt in the chair, I decided to join in. And voila. It worked. On the first sprint I wrote about 380 words, but by the second I hit my stride (540ish) and was hooked.
Photo Courtesy of
The group challenged, supported and encouraged me to keep up with the daily word count (the key to winning NaNo). I can’t tell you how many times I woke up in the morning, to see Andrew or Anna’s posts from the other side of the globe (where the day was ending), or signed on in the evening to see the east coaster’s sprinting, and thought, “They did it. They’re doing it. I can do it too.”

And I did. When I reached the pinnacle, the coveted 50K words on November 30th, my group members celebrated out-loud, making the victory not just mine, but theirs. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment at reaching your goal (and writing the first-half of your next novel) multiplied by twenty-three!

Thank you, thank you, to each and every member of our NaNoWriMo2014 Facebook group. You got me to my goal AND changed my mind about groups. I owe you.

Of course, writing, for me, is still a personal experience, but I learned a valuable lesson: the two are not mutually exclusive. I can write alone and share tidbits with others, ask for advice, work out character and plot issues, give my input on theirs, and generally be a part of something bigger that gathers momentum and draws me along with it.

Nothing wrong with that!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. Happy Groundhog Day! Here's a teaser/trailer from one of my favorite movies "Groundhog Day". Enjoy!


  1. Awwww I love this post!! I"m so glad you're part of the group and have come into your own. I fully believe in supporting fellow authors. This business can be a harsh mistress, and it helps to have friends talk you off the ledge, keep you in check and never give up on you so you never give up on yourself. Well done!!!

  2. It has been a fun ride, hasn't it? I love being part of a group because although the act of writing is always solitary in that you have to hunker down and write your own words no matter if you're alone or in a crowded room, I find it motivating to have other writers I can connect with for support, brainstorming, commiserating, and celebrating!

  3. I'm definitely a solitary writer but being a part of the group has supported me in ways I didn't realize I needed.

  4. Ok, weird. I tried to write earlier and it disappeared. hmmm!

    Anyway - I can write either by myself, with people, preferrably with the birds or fish. lol

    Seriously - I started a writers group 8 years ago to have this same kind of support group, mutual encouragement, and critique, and never looked back.

    It's good to have both 'me write in a corner' time and lets wear our hearts out on the papers.

  5. I love this! And I'm so glad we both ended up in the same NaNo group, Olivia.

  6. LOVE this Olivia! We have the best group!