An exercise every writer should try

NaNoWriMo & Google Docs
NaNoWriMo & Google Docs

We can do some pretty amazing things with technology these days. We can build self-driving cars and 3D-print chocolate, but technology also gives us more outlets and tools for what we can accomplish with pen and paper: creative writing. NaNoWriMo is one example. Google Docs is another.

Last month, Google for Education partnered with National Novel Writing Month to help three authors from across the country write a short story together — in an hour.

At over 1,600 words and with three illustrations, the story about a memorial service set on an emu farm combines the imaginations of Edan Lepucki, Tope Folarin, and Mike Curato. The video below shows how it was done — in Google Docs, with the authors taking turns and a Google Docs user named Lauren providing the opening line. You can read the full story here.

 

The result is a great exercise for growing writers: Have someone think of the first sentence for you, and then work together with one or two other writers for an hour and see what you get. This teaches us to work without worrying about what we’re putting on the page and to allow our imaginations to roam free, uncensored. After all, the writers involved don’t have time to be afraid of what the others might think of their ideas. Their only job is to respond to what the person before them wrote to keep the story going.

So have fun, and give it a try! Free up an hour some afternoon — or better yet, do it tonight when you would otherwise be watching TV. Let me know how it goes in the comments. It’s good practice, and you might find that you and the other writers have a lot to teach each other, both while you’re writing and when the story’s done.

NaNoWriMo and what it means to be a ‘real’ writer

Writers

Tumblrs are a mixed bag. Some of them express an individual’s view of the world, others serve as a community for people who share a common interest, and a few are meant to simply insult the “idiots” of the Internet. Only it’s not in jest (“Look at this person’s grammar, har har”) but rather in cruelty (“Why don’t these people just kill themselves and get it over with”).

That’s why this article (quoted below) by Todd VanDerWerff of the A.V. Club annoys me. It’s about a Tumblr site dedicated to the “best” (ie., the worst) of NaNoWriMo, an event designed to encourage people to write — one of the most important but undervalued forms of communication.

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