Three years ago, I was asked to become a the Municipal Liaison for North San Diego County. I had only just moved to the area a year before, and had participated in NaNoWriMo three years previously while still in Santa Barbara. But this “ML” thing. What was it supposed to mean? I’d met the ML in SB on one or two occasions but nothing ever really stood out about him. The previous ML for North County was nothing exciting.
So that’s what I set out to change with my Kick-Off party and write-ins that year. I wanted to foster a sense of community, a place that writers could go to have fun and get some writing done. And while, granted, we often do a lot more talking than writing, we at least manage to talk ABOUT writing. That has to count for something, right?
Part of being an ML during the month of November (and beyond) is getting the rest of your district inspired. Get them pumped up to write, to win, even when it seems like they’ve hit that 10k/15k/25k slump and it’s one week until the end and — we’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s my job on and off the field to keep writers writing.
Having a group of writers around you — in person or online — is a great way to keep yourself motivated. You can talk about your project to work through plot holes, you can empathize with writers having similar tough moments, and, most importantly, you can challenge yourself against them! Word sprints and word wars are probably my favorite writing tool. It’s safe to say that Write or Die has saved my butt on many a NaNo slump. Now that I’ve discovered the thriving community of writers on Twitter, I can now compete against them, race alongside them, and be encouraged when writing.
The individuals that run these sprints and communities on twitter and their blogs are doing what MLs do. They dedicate time out of their day to make sure the writers under their care get some progress made. And while we can’t always make it to an in-person write-in, at least we can all have a cup of tea at the same time and write for twenty or thirty minutes! (Which is probably more productive than some of the write-ins I actually go to).
These MLs, these community leaders, we are the first line of defense for when you hit a wall! I always love to encourage my region to talk about problems they face in the writing world and, if they would like to, the real world. Make use of the forums so they can get that feed-back from other writers. Sometimes, all it takes is a little chat to help you work out any kinks in your plan of attack. It might often be a lot of work for us as the “authority figure”, and while I can’t speak for the rest of you, I quite enjoy it that way.
ABOUT ANNA CYLKOWSKI
Miss Anna Banana is a slave to the mundane life of retail during the day, and generally asleep at night so it’s a wonder that she can get any writing done at all. This still hasn’t stopped her from finishing three novels over the last three years (all with the help of NaNo), beta-ing a friend’s novel, and spending more time playing video games and watching anime than she should. She can be found spouting nonsense on twitter @lil_miss_banana or on tumblr by the same moniker. If for some reason you’re curious about what she writes, that can be found at this handy master-post here, or at the slightly abandoned Writers of Yore.