You’re probably tired of hearing (reading?) me say it by now, but the main reason I participate in NaNoWriMo—and blogs, and word sprints, and basically any other writing activity that involves more than just myself—is community. My biggest obstacle to productive writing is loneliness; even if I stay in for the night, I could be playing online games with friends, or watching a movie with family, or webcamming with the boyfriend instead of writing. Anything that doesn’t involve me being completely alone. Even if I’m just trolling Reddit, hunkered down in a snuggie and working my way through an unforgivable amount of pizza, I’m still interacting with people, which is more than can be said for shutting the world out and honing in on an imaginary world (and, no, my characters don’t count).
So it only makes sense that NaNoWriMo write-ins are the highlight of my November experience. While I highly advocate having a writing space outside your home–something I’ll be talking about in a future post–I’ve tried the coffee shop thing, and being alone with my laptop in a Starbucks frankly makes me feel pretty pretentious. It’s also pretty tempting to look up from my laptop, observe the people around me, stare longingly at the pastries in the case… you get the idea. But when I’m at a write-in, I get that companionship I desire, the focus I need, and the support I thrive off of to form that perfect trifecta of writing stamina.
Write-Ins are awesome meetups organized by region, where NaNoWriMo participants who live in the area gather to write and encourage each other. They’re a great mix of writing at your own pace and sprinting to the death (of your inner editor, that is!) in WordScrims. In my experience, they usually start off with a bit of chatting, setting up, and maybe even a few introductions. Then attendees write at their own pace, pausing occasionally to chat if they desire, sharing ideas and plots and feats of NaNos past.
Now, doing only that would slow you down, and that’s where the Municipal Liaisons (MLs)— event planners for each NaNoWriMo region—come in. Eventually, at any write-in you attend, you can expect to hear your ML announce a sprint or scrim. Some even bring fun prizes, like plot bunny stickers, to give out to the winners with the most words!
This is especially helpful for those who are looking to catch up on their word counts, but even those who are well on track could benefit. Let’s say you’re well into November—in the second or third week—and you’re running out of steam. You’re on track, but you fear that won’t be the case for long. Maybe you hate your main character. Maybe the narrative is bubbling with the pressure of plot holes and inconsistencies, and you’re sure it’s about to explode, much like that whistling tea kettle in the kitchen you’ve been ignoring for far too long. Maybe you’re just wondering if this book really needs to be written after all.
Either way, I can promise you this: going to a write-in will pick your spirits, and maybe even your word count, way up. At the very least, it’ll get you out of your house and force you to pull a comb through your hair—although, arguably, one of the best things about going to a write-in is that you’re meeting up with harried writers just as frazzled as you are. Regardless, you’re bound to have a good time and get some writing done in the process.
Have you ever been to a write-in? What are your experiences with fellow NaNo-ers like? Let us know!