NaNoWriMo Posts

What do NaNoWriMo and GlobalGiving have in common?

nanowrimoIf you’re not one of the more than 100,000 giddy writers who eagerly looks forward to writing a novel in 30 days, let me explain.  NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month. Each November I (and many others) take a stab at writing a 50,000 word novel – not because I expect to get published – but because the process itself is satisfying. In fact, part of the joy is diving in to the challenge together. My fellow writers and I use the social networking site to monitor our progress against our peers, as well as to converse about sticky points in our manuscripts. This reminded me of GlobalGiving itself. Here are other points of similarity:

  • Both sites are designed to foster competition against oneself, with specific time deadlines. (We use the new project challenge to kick-start new organizations)
  • Writers get weekly  “pep talks” from famous writers. (Granted, we’re not “famous” at GlobalGiving, but we try to give good pep talks!)
  • Writers provide regular updates to their pages on progress, and send “nano mails” to peers. (GlobalGiving helps projects keep donors updated on progress regularly)
  • We chart our own progress towards 50,000 words daily, and follow each other’s chart on profile pages.
  • We do it out of love, with only a handful of writers realizing that it takes money to keep the platform humming along. NaNoWriMo depends on donations, just like GlobalGiving.
  • Everyone can win by writing a NaNoWriMo. On their “about us” page, they say they “value enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft.”
  • Creates a strong “we’re in this together” mentality.

National Novel Writing Month is all about getting people to take their first plunge into writing without risk. I look to them as a model for the sort of friendly environment we hope to foster for the world of nonprofits. GlobalGiving is a safe place to start a relationship with people from a distant country or just down the street, by giving as little as $10 to a cause you share with them. You never know – relationships like these might lead to that great idea for a novel.

There are only about 15 days left to sign up for NaNoWriMo. I’ve already learned a lot about myself through writing. Join Me!

Storytelling our way towards a global community

Don't you want to lose sleep writing your own novel in November?November is my favorite month because it is National Novel Writing Month and I love to write. If you are unfamiliar, NanoWriMo challenges regular people to put 1000 words a day on paper towards completing a personal novella of 30,000 words in 30 days. It’s not about quality; it’s about discipline. If you can drop two television shows from your daily routine and write, you can do it. Everyone is carrying an untold story, and most of us don’t even know we have it.

As much as I love to write, sitting down and doing it every day is a chore. Like swimming laps, the hardest part is jumping in. Most good writing sneaks in after a lot of garbage. And I am soooo happy to have an online community of other NaNos that encourage each other to keep writing. It is also a lot of fun to compare day-to-day word-counts and share our personal writing struggles. If you think you’d be into NaNoWriMo, add me as your writing buddy through my current novel page.

Social NetworksThis got me thinking about another great community. GlobalGiving acts like a sort of NaNoWriMo for development projects. You might think of us as a marketplace for giving, but we are also a set of tools for building a giving community, both on your street and around the world. Each project is the beginning of a story – an opening line of some great unwritten tale. We have our heroes (social entrepreneurs), our villians (disease, unjustice, poverty, you-name-it), and every reader is also a novelist. We buy the next volume each time we donate, but we also write the next chapter when we comment on projects, updates from the field, and tell others about a project by email, on Facebook, CouchSurfing, LinkedIn, or whatever your flavor of friend-manager happens to be.

Projects, like the developing novel, are not static items. Having written three novels myself (but published zero, sadly), I know that good drama leaps off the page when you allow yourself to run free with the setting, characters, and any other elements that might not seem “important” from the get-go. Last year my “throw-away” NaNoWriMo turned into something I really want to develop. I will be finishing my “teen angst” novel-turned-metaphysical manifesto on the nature of good and evil in November.

Writer's block never so bad when you're telling a meaningful storyA project begins with a description on the site, but it is what GlobalGivers do with this information that determines whether we write epics or footnotes in history. If we want epic results, we need improvisers and collaboration to help each project develop. There comes a point in every fledgling novel when an author’s plans slam head-first into the brick walls that confine one’s imagination. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the novel was a group project?

In philanthropy we can all become Hemingways by adding our stories to life’s narrative. And in the future, I hope more of our donors and beneficiaries will share talents, wisdom, and daily experiences around subjects that matter to the largest number of the world’s people. We might not write the great American novel today, but given the right setting, characters, and devices to overcome the villains, this community could write the first global novel tomorrow.