Books, much like children, sometimes take a village. Let managing editor and fellow WriMo participant Moriah Richard give you tips for engaging with your online and in-person NaNoWriMo community.

So far this year, we’ve defined what NaNoWriMo is and whether or not prepping for the 50,000 words-in-one-month challenge is best for you. Today, I’m going to dive into what really makes NaNoWriMo special: the community.

What makes NaNoWriMo so exciting, in my opinion, is that so many other people love it. In my online writing communities, we start asking each other about NaNo starting September 1—are you prepping this year? What project do you have in mind? How are you keeping your schedule clear? The excitement is infectious. It really makes you want to dive in and get working!

There’s really nothing like an evening of word-sprinting with fellow writers! Getting together to bang out a few thousand words, snacks littering the table between you, fingers flying over keyboards … a lot of people really thrive in this kind of environment, and it can be the motivation to jump into your story or a kick-in-the-pants if you’re behind in your daily word count.

While there might have been some virtual write-ins (an event where people come together to write and encourage each other) before 2020, the pandemic has really brought the online community to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. Luckily, NaNo makes it really easy to connect with people in your area who are interested in online and in-person events.

First, you’ll need to sign up for a free account at NaNoWriMo.org. Next, you’ll need to go to the community tab and click “Home Region” in the dropdown—this is how you’ll connect with other writers! Once you select your region (mine is USA :: Maryland), you’ll be able to see social media groups, forums, a calendar, and even Discord groups where you can either engage with people or make plans to meet up.

Featuring a combination of NaNoWriMo-specific writing advice and motivation, Grant Faulkner, the staff of NaNoWriMo, and the editors of Writer’s Digest have curated this exclusive set of articles and 30 writing prompts to help first-timers and seasoned Wrimos alike as you embark on your novel-in-a-month journey.

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Come Write In is another NaNoWriMo program that you’ll want to keep your eye on—public libraries, bookstores, and even college campuses have become Come Write In locations that host meetups and write-ins. Last year, my local library went virtual and hosted these via Zoom; this year, I’m hoping to be able to meet up with people in person!

If we can’t get together in person, there are still plenty of ways to connect with fellow participants. Personally, I love engaging with the forums on NaNo’s site. There are general ones—on everything from tips to avoid procrastinating to what everyone dreamt the night before—to more specific ones about writing based on trauma or how to properly outline a novel.

Looking for a specific community? NaNoWriMo has forums that act as safe spaces for neurodivergent, LGBTQ+, and writers of color. As a member of the LGBTQ+ forum, I can say that having this space to discuss things like how sexuality impacts character and plot has been monumental—other than a few close writer friends, I’d never had people with whom I could have these kinds of conversations.

How about a specific genre? You can find writing groups on the NaNo site dedicated to women writers over 40, weekend writers, writers with dogs … anything you can think of!

If you do have a core community already, you can create a private group for just you and your friends. This will give you an opportunity to host your own virtual write-ins, check in with each other and follow each other’s progress, and even just catch up.

NaNo also hosts virtual events, which you can check out on their calendar. These range from topics hosted by NaNo partners (like a world-building talk by the creators of World Anvil) to weekly meet-and-greets for writers of color. If you find the forums a little overwhelming or you’re more a face-to-face kind of person, these events are definitely for you!

I find NaNo’s Twitter pages to be helpful as well. You can find lots of fellow writers in the comments of the @NaNoWriMo page, and even stay on track with their @NaNoWordSprints account. What I love about @NaNoWordSprints is that they not only give you a time period during which you write as much as possible, but they also give you an optional prompt to get your gears turning. This can be extremely helpful when low on inspiration, but it’s also great to be able to write at the same time as other people and share your success.

What’s your favorite way to connect with fellow Wrimos? Let us know in the comments section below! 

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

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