Guide for Hosting Write-Ins


A write-in occurs whenever NaNoWriMo novelists gather at a coffee house, plibrary (or similar venue) for the purpose of working on their novels. In between bouts of furious typing (or scribbling), we commiserate over wordcount and brainstorm ideas. The point is to get you out of the house, away from distractions, and writing. Caffeine, interesting strangers you can put in your story, and socializing with fellow wrimos is a bonus.

Add as a bit of fun to NaNoWriMo, many area libraries will be hosting write-ins throughout November. We encourage participants to visit as many of these libraries as you can during the month.  When you attend a Library Crawl write-in be sure to pick up the library-specific index card that will be available there.  Bring these cards to the NaperWriMo TGIO party.  Each card gets you raffle ticket.  The more raffle tickets you have, the better your odds for winning one of fabulous prizes. More information on the Library Crawl is available at:

Besides the Library Crawl, other regularly scheduled write-ins will be occurring at coffee shops, bookstores and restaurants throughout the region.  To see a schedule of the write-ins and other NaNoWriMo events in the area go to:   If none of these write-ins in your area and at your convenience, we encourage you to schedule your own.


  • Pick a public place to write in. Public libraries, coffee houses, or Barnes & Noble stores are all good choices.  Choose a location and time that is convenient for you.  If others can attend, that’s great.  If not, you’ll have dedicated writing time at a convenient location. You may have access to an unusual write-in location (in Nashville, Tennessee, they once organized a write-in in the replica of the Parthenon!).
  • If you know that a large number of people plan to attend the write-in you are hosting, as a courtesy, try to give the management at your venue a heads-up and if needed, make a reservation. You may want to approach the management anyway; they might have advice on the best times to schedule events and they might even be open to helping publicize it.
  • Some of the libraries participating in the Library Crawl might be interested in participant help in hosting. Feel free to approach the MLs if you have an interest in helping out.
  • Commit the time to be writing in said public place for at least two hours. 
  • Post the location and time window in the Naperville Regional forum ( as far in advance as possible. Don't forget to give some information about how to recognize you, say by wearing a red carnation or a chic NaNoWriMo t-shirt or placing a stuffed penguin on your table.
  • If you have planned your write-in at least a few days in advance, email or PM one of the MLs to have it added to the local events calendar at  Include the following: date, start time, duration, location (including address or cross streets), and how to recognize you in a crowd.
  • Show up at least five or ten minutes early with your laptop or pad/pen and stake out a table or a few chairs.
  • Flag down anyone looking a little lost and writerly and say hello. If they are wrimos invite them to join you. If they are not, tell them about NaNoWriMo so they might consider joining in next year.
  • Bring a power strip to write-ins so several wrimos can plug into a single outlet.
  • You might have participants quickly introduce themselves and mention where they are in word count and in their novel’s progress.
  • In the Naperville region, we frequently encourage participants to sign in at the google spreadsheet at This spreadsheet can be useful for keeping track of people’s wordcount progress during the write-in; one can even offer a small prize for those who make the biggest leap in word count (or % added) during the write-in.
  • Consider adding writing games to the write-in:
    • Word War - Bring a timer and a list of generic writing prompts (A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves is a good source). Set the timer for 10-15 minutes, read the prompt out loud, and have everyone write as much as they can until the timer runs out.  
    • Word Wars can also be done without a prompt.
    • Box O’ Doom – A word count challenge tool.  Place a bunch of word counts in a box (on slips of paper, google doc, rocks, or whatever).  To start a challenge, draw from the box, but whatever you draw, you have to do.  There is no bargaining with the box of doom.
    • Huzzah balls - These are crumpled up newspaper balls with a trailing strip of ribbon or paper. People set a goal for themselves in the write-in: a word count to achieve, a difficult scene to write, a character to kill, etc. When they achieve that goal in the write-in, even during a word war, they exclaim “Huzzah!” and toss the huzzah ball into the center of the table. Everyone applauds the accomplishment. img_7155.jpg
    • Consider having little prizes for the winners of the contests. Homemade crafts and small trinkets are always a hit.
    • Some wrimos are more interested in socializing than writing. Word wars are useful to cut down on chatter. If you have a lot of trouble getting people to actually write at a write-in, consider organizing some meet-ups devoted to socializing.
    • Consider having everyone take turns reading a short paragraph from their work in progress. It can be VERY interesting to see what people are writing. However, this should be entirely voluntary and it should be OK if someone chooses not to read.
  • Stick around and write until your time window is up (some participants show up late; it is sad to go to a write-in and not find the host who committed to be there), then go home.

Sometimes a half a dozen people will show up, sometimes no one shows up. Either way, you can make a dent in your wordcount! It's EASY and anyone can do it!


  • If possible, RSVP to the host by posting in the forums to the write-in announcement or via PM. That way the host will have some idea of how many chairs to save and who to watch for. This is not required, but it is helpful.
  • Remember that this is NOT a formal, organized party. You don't need to sit with the host. Some venues are small and crowded and wrimos may end up scattered throughout the room.
  • If you can't find the host, don't stress, just settle in and write anyway. In the Naperville region, we’re known for bringing a stuffed animal with us to write-ins.  
  • If the write-in is in a coffee shop or restaurant, please spend some money. The proprietors are not getting any kickback from NaNoWriMo, so please support their establishment.
  • If the write-in allows food (most libraries do--this should be posted), feel free to bring a snack or snacks to share.
  • Remember to write! It's exciting to meet other people who share your passion for writing, and it can be tempting to chat for the entire session. However the point of the gathering is to write, so please be respectful of people who are trying to focus on their novels.
  • If you find that available write-ins are not convenient for you, for whatever reason, consider hosting your own!

Online Resources

Write-ins can also be completely virtual. See for the list of online helper resources.


This guide was adapted from Pomegranate's_Guide_for_Hosting_Write-Ins by samcadams and NewMexicoKid, co-MLs for USA::Illinois::Naperville, 2015.