Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Messages from an ML: How to Get Involved with Your Local NaNoWriMo Region

My last post talked quite a bit about NaNoWriMo regions and local events.  I can't tell you how many times I've talked to a newcomer to my events, though, and discovered that they've known about the local events for some time, just never had worked up the courage to come.

I always encourage wrimos to come to the local write-ins if they can.  Staying motivated all by yourself for an entire month can be difficult, but you don't have to do it all alone.  Write-ins help you get your word counts, maintain the daily habit, and maintain your forward momentum.

Writers can be an awkward bunch, though; a single write-in will tell you that much.  When you're an introvert, going to a write-in to write with strangers can be intimidating.

If you feel hesitant to join your local NaNoWriMo community, here are a few tips for breaking the ice and putting yourself out there.

  • Check out the region online first.  Even though you're looking for a local community, that local community has an online presence, too.  Every region at minimum has a regional forum, typically with information from MLs about local events, and threads from other local wrimos about everything from setting up write-ins to various aspects of writing.  Your region may also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Discord.
  • Say hi!  Lurking is great for getting comfortable, but at some point, you just gotta say hi.  Introduce yourself, post any questions you have about how the local stuff works, or reach out and make some new writing buddies.
  • Find a write-in where you can get your feet wet.  Check out the write-ins in your area.  In addition to the forum, which is often used for arranging write-ins, there's a region calendar.  Our write-in likes to specify what kind of event each write-in is: Is it social?  Is it quiet and focused?  Will there be word sprints?  You can also ask any friends you've made in the forum what write-ins they'll be going to, so you can meet them in person (and have the security of knowing someone there).
  • Go to the write-in.  Once you find a write-in you think would be a good fit for your first time, take the leap and go!  It may seem intimidating your first time, but I promise, we're all just like you (awkward writer types) and you'll fit in nicely.
  • Repeat as necessary.  If you have a good experience at your first write-in, why not try another?  Many repeat weekly, so you can go to the same one again next week, or try a different one.  I do find that the atmosphere can vary quite a bit between write-ins, so don't worry if you find that some aren't to your liking.  Hopefully you will have an active region with many to choose from!
  • Create your own!  You knew I was coming to this, right?  If you don't find a write-in that works for you, or you go to a few and don't love them, don't be afraid to start your own!  Check the regional forum for your ML's guidelines on creating a write-in, but for the most part, you just have to specify day, time, place, how long you'll be there, and what kind of a write-in it is (quiet, focused, social, etc.).  It's also a good idea to talk to the business where you want to hold it first to make sure they're okay with it, especially if you anticipate more than a handful of people to show up.
I genuinely hope you'll try it, but at the very least, check your region's local forum and see if there's anything (or anyone) to interest you.  The community part of NaNoWriMo is half the fun of participating!

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