Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Messages from an ML: What's All This Local Region Stuff, Anyway?

I've mentioned before that I'm a municipal liaison, an ML, for NaNoWriMo's Denver region.

Since I haven't explained it recently (even though I've been talking about it a lot), NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a self-challenge to write a 50,000-word novel (or 50,000 words of a novel) in the month of November.  There are rules, but that's the basics of it, and some of us (ahem) break some of those rules anyway.

NaNoWriMo is primarily an online thing.  There's a huge website, and discussion forums, and social media presence, especially on Twitter and Discord.  And it's actually international, not just national, so once November starts, there will be writers participating right alongside you (virtually) all over the world.

While the online and international parts of NaNoWriMo are phenomenal, participants are also divided up into regions.  You can join your local region or not; it's up to you.  But if you decide to participate in your region, I highly recommend checking out the local events calendar.  Local events are one of the best things about NaNoWriMo for me.

For instance, I live in the Denver Metro area, and I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006.  Denver is a very active region, so your region may or may not look like this, but in a normal year we have events scheduled for almost every day of November.  Most of the events are what we call "write-ins," which is where wrimos (what we call participants) get together someplace and just write together.  Sometimes it's quiet writing, sometimes social writing, and sometimes it's a mix with timed (and often gently competitive) word sprints.  They're held in coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, libraries, and bookstores all over town, wherever the person setting up the event decides to have it - usually a favorite local haunt.

We also always have a kickoff party.  Other regions may differ, but we hold our kickoff parties on Halloween night, so that everyone can start writing at midnight.  It means that people who have to work the next day tend not to come, but even so, we typically get 60 to 70 people at the kickoff party.  Fortunately we have the generous support of a local coffee shop, Enchanted Grounds, and for the last handful of years or so they have hosted both our kickoff parties and a weekly write-in.

NaNoWriMo also has local Come Write In partners, usually libraries or bookstores that decide they want to host events in November, and they reach out to NaNoWriMo directly about scheduling write-ins (rather than a wrimo setting up the write-ins there).  Some Come Write In partners host other events than write-ins, too, such as workshops, lectures, and author events.

NaNoWriMo has been a little different the last couple years, of course, as the pandemic forced NaNoWriMo to go virtual along with everything else in the world.  But we're looking forward to getting back to in-person events this year, even though we'll likely still be offering a variety of virtual events for those who aren't yet comfortable with the in-person stuff again.

Next time you're on the NaNoWriMo site, check out your local region's page.  There's a lot going on in each region, perhaps more than you realize!  Next I'll talk about how to break the ice and get involved in your region's local events.

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