Prizes, Strategy Discussions, and Hat-Choosing
One of the things that initially got me through National Novel Writing Month and out the other side with over 50,000 words was going to write-ins. I wasn’t at all sure of my ability to finish, so I grabbed inspiration and help wherever I could find it. Of course I read books like No Plot? No Problem! And part of my motivation my first year (2010—ah, it seems like only yesterday!) came from my fellow Novelistas.
But the best help probably came from my Naperwrimo peeps. I got to know them partly from pre-NaNo planning workshops, but mostly at write-ins. At write-ins, you get the opportunity to see that you’re not in it alone, which is very reassuring. In case that isn’t enough, though, you can compete for prizes!
The first write-in I attended was run by one of our Municipal Liaisons (aka MLs), KatherineWriting. She had a grab bag of fun, sometimes-goofy, writing-related prizes, and held word wars about twice an hour over a session that went for 3 hours. The rule was, once you won a word war—which you did by writing more words than anyone else during a period of, say 10 minutes—you weren’t eligible to win another prize that day. So usually by about the 4th or 5th word war of the morning, I’d win something. I’m a sucker for swag, so this was enough to keep me coming to write-ins.
Fast forward: a couple of years ago, I decided I needed to host write-ins, too. Give something back to the community, and all that. There are at least 2 things different about the write-ins I’ve hosted. First of all, I don’t try to find prizes anymore—at least, not the usual kinds of prizes. Another of the MLs, NewMexicoKid, makes really creative prizes from scratch, like Plot Bunnies and NanoBots. His handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items are not normally available at any price, and can only be gained by winning a word war or doing something else NewMexicoKid deems especially fabulous. I decided early on I was not competing with that, and beat NewMexicoKid into submission—oops, I mean, talked him into bringing some of his prizes to the write-ins I hosted.
Secondly, the unique feature I brought to my write-ins was the opportunity to wear a fabulous hat. I figure if it worked for Chris Baty, it was bound to work for the rest of us. The way you get to wear a hat at one of my write-ins is to win more than one word war. At my first write-in this year, the winner of hat-wearing privileges was typesetjez.
Doesn’t she look dashing in this lovely bridal pith helmet?
There’s one more write-in at the Woodridge Public Library this month, on November 16 from 1:30-4:30. If you’re from the Chicago area, especially the western suburbs, come write with us and/or at one of many other available write-ins. If you’re not local, check for write-ins in your home region. It’s a great way to share the misery…oops, I mean, connect with your fellow writers.