Pomegranate's Guide for Hosting Write-Ins
WHAT IS A WRITE-IN?
A write-in occurs whenever NaNoWriMo novelists gather at a coffee bar (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.
Throughout November, I will be hosting at least one write-in a week on various days and in various parts of town. I can't be everywhere, so if you want write-ins in your area and at your convenience, the best way to have that is to host your own!
HOW TO HOST A WRITE-IN
- Pick a public place to write in. Public libraries, coffee houses, parks in nice weather, or Barnes & Noble stores are all good choices. (In 2002, one San Diego wrimo, Jerry, wrote his novel in "30 bars in 30 days.")
- Commit to writing in said public place for at least an hour or two.
- Post the location and time window in this forum [I set up a write-in thread in our regional forum] as far in advance as possible, say 24 hours or more. Don't forget to give some information about how to recognize you, say by wearing a red carnation or a chic NaNoWriMo t-shirt. (Last year one wrimo always put a stuffed penguin on her table.)
- If you have planned your write-in a few days in advance, email or PM the ML to have it added to the local events calendar. (I need to know the following: date, start time, duration, location (including address or cross streets), and how to recognize you in a crowd.)
- 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.
- 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 (or just really cute) invite them to join you.
- Stick around and write until your time window is up, 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!
SUGGESTIONS FOR PEOPLE ATTENDING WRITE-INS
- If possible, RSVP to the host 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.)
- 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.
- If the write-in is in a coffee bar or restaurant, spend some money. The proprietors are not getting any kickback from NaNoWriMo, so please support their establishment.
- 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!
WRITE-IN TIPS FOR MLs
- Set up a sticky thread in your regional forum for Write-in stuff so there is a central place for people to look.
- For easy reference, on the calendar, title each write-in as "Write-in [time of day]/[part of town]. For example "Write-in Afternoon/UCSD campus" or "write-in evening/Mira Mesa". This is especially helpful when there are multiple write-ins on one day. Don't forget to put the username of the volunteer host in the calendar entry so people know who to contact if necessary.
- Bring a power strip to write-ins so several wrimos can plug into a single outlet.
- If/When you have volunteers hosting write-ins, don't feel pressured to attend. However, try to send them a PM to follow up afterwards to thank them, see how it went, and ask if they have questions.
- I usually have one standing write-in at the same cafe each week, and one "floater" where I went to different parts of town based on suggestions from wrimos. One year this worked great. This year, no one made suggestions so I just kept going back to the place that had the best turnout.
- Some wrimos are more interested in socializing than writing. If you have a lot of trouble getting people to actually write at a write-in, consider alternating write-ins with meetings devoted to socializing. Or specify up front that the first hour will be socializing and the second will be writing.
- Consider having a structured write-in or "writing practice". 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. Do this without prompts and call it a word war. ;-> Consider having little prizes for the winners.
- Consider having everyone take turns reading a 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.
- I tried to get to write-ins an hour before the scheduled start time. That way I got a little undisturbed writing in before people showed up. (It also backfired when my chattiest wrimo kept showing up an hour early too. ;-7)