Hosting a Write-In Successfully During NaNoWriMo

Interested in hosting a Write-In this year during NaNoWriMo? Write-Ins are a great way to meet writers in your community and provide a safe space for everyone to reach their word count goals during National Novel Writing Month.

That being said, there’s a lot of planning that goes behind this event. If you want to host a Write-In during NaNoWriMo, follow these steps so that your event is successful.

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Coordinate with Your Municipal Liaison

Your municipal liaison (often abbreviated as ML) is a volunteer coordinator of your regional NaNoWriMo chapter. Larger regions have a Municipal Liaison team of volunteers to support the community needs of National Novel Writing Month throughout October and November.

Your local Municipal Liaison is in charge of:

  • moderating the forum conversations happening within your Regional Lounge
  • coordinating write-ins at least once a week
  • organizing events including the NaNoWriMo Kickoff party and the TGIO party

Some MLs organize additional events during October and November such as Plot-Ins and success strategy sessions. MLs often take on extra responsibilities including running their local chapter’s website, fundraising for NaNoWriMo’s non-profit organization and/or arranging a local version of Night of Writing Dangerously.

Since NaNoWriMo is considered to be a community event, don’t go rogue when hosting a Write-In session. Contact your Municipal Liaison and express your intent. They can offer you advice on how to host a NaNoWriMo Write-In session successfully as well as promote your event on the community calendar and within email communications.

Pick a Place

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As writers, we all know the impact of the place where we write. When hosting a Write-In during NaNoWriMo, keep in mind how the venue can impact the writing experience, especially for writers who are most likely tired and anxious to reach their daily word count goal.

Choose a place that motivates writers to attend and to write. The best Write-In venues:

  • have enough space for everyone to write
  • have plenty of outlets for everyone to stay plugged in while writing
  • have a chill vibe with few/no distractions
  • are conveniently located within your community
  • have plenty of easy parking

Coffee shops, libraries and community centers are usually selected as venues for hosting a Write-In. Sometimes writers will host a Write-In privately within their home.

Let the venue know ahead of time that you plan to be hosting a Write-In on a certain day and time. That way, they can have time to set up some space for your group and be fully stocked to support your group’s needs. Libraries and community centers allow you to reserve the room in advance.

Stock Up on Snacks

If hosting a Write-In at a venue that sells goods (such as a coffee shop or bakery), encourage your writing participants to purchase food or drink from the establishment as a way of showing thanks for using their space.

You are often allowed to provide snacks and refreshments if your chosen venue doesn’t sell food or drinks (it never hurts to double-check on this when reserving the space).

Keep in mind that munchies like chips and cheese puffs quickly dirty up your fingertips and keyboard. Focus on snacks that are easy to share and keep the writing process clean, such as mixed nuts and pretzels. Guests always enjoy drinking coffee, tea and soda during these sessions.

Make sure to note the snack situation within the invite or calendar posting of your Write-In. That way, your writing participants know what to expect from the session.

Set Up the Space for Success

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Arrive at your selected venue ahead of time to set up the space. You’ll find when hosting a Write-In that you’ll need to the extra time to rearrange tables, plug in power strips and set up the snack station. You want to be ready at least fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled Write-In so that you can focus on greeting your guests when they arrive.

Consider providing a writing inspiration section within the space. Gather all the writing reference books you have and make them available to your guests. You can also borrow writing reference books from your local library’s collection and have them available during the session.

Be a Host

Let the Write-In begin! Greet everyone as they arrive and let everyone know of what’s available to them during the session, including power outlets, snacks and reference books. Find a balance of giving your guests space to set up their writing workspace as well as starting conversation to make them more comfortable with the setting.

When it’s time to begin, kickoff the session by having everyone introduce themselves to the group and state their story’s logline. By hosting a Write-In, it is your responsibility to emphasize to your guests that all interactions during this session are to be positive and encouraging—we want people to be motivated to write, after all!

It’s common at a Write-In for writing participants to arrive later. As each attendee arrives, provide them the same greeting and catch them up on what they’ve missed before introducing them to the group.

Lead All Word Sprints

For those not in the know, a word sprint is a span of time where the writer tries to write as much as possible. A word war is a group version of a word sprint—all writers race to write the most words in a certain amount of time, since reaching word count is the name of the NaNoWriMo game!

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Because you are hosting a Write-In, you are the leader of this game (should your group choose to play). Explain the rules of the game and set a timer for 15–20 minutes. Then go! When the timer buzzes, have participants call out their word count during that sprint. Prizes for winners are optional—most are just happy to be that much closer to their National Novel Writing Month goal.

Your group can play this as many times as desired. Most Write-Ins I’ve attended play this game at least three times during the session, but I’ve also attended sessions where it happens once if at all. As the host, take a read of your group to see if this game sparks enthusiasm or stresses out your writers.

This isn’t the only writing game you can play. This site and this site have ideas on more Write-In games your group can play.

Most importantly, don’t forget to write yourself!

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