NaNo what now? Newbies Guide to NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.
Essentially it’s a global writing event held annually in November, where participants try to write a 50,000 word novel.
The first step in participating in NaNoWriMo is to join via the NaNoWriMo Website.
Then add your local region and find out who your local ML (Municipal Liaison) is.

According to the website:
Quote - “Municipal Liaisons (MLs) are volunteers who add a vibrant, real-world aspect to NaNoWriMo festivities all over the world.

They host regular writing events in November—and some MLs host write-ins, parties, and workshops all year long. They also oversee their regional forums and act as official NaNo representatives.”

I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few years ago and this year I’m participating. As a NaNoWriMo Newbie, today I’m talking to a few local experts to pick their brains about what to expect when attending NaNoWriMo for the first time.
Let me introduce my experts:
Talia Nyx - has participated 3 times, the first in 2012. Talia is the ML (Municipal Liaison) for Otago/Southland.
Judy Mohr – 2016 will be Judy’s third official NaNoWriMo, and her second year as ML for the Christchurch, New Zealand region, along with Amy Paulussen.
Chris Yee first NaNo was in 2011. Chris is one of several internationally based online administrators that oversee and maintain a NaNoWriMo Participants group on Facebook
rom Christchurch, this year Chris will be hanging out with writers in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
I asked my experts: What is your role in NaNoWriMo?

Talia: It is my job to get the region going, and organise Write-ins and other meet ups, provide motivation, and support; and obviously, liaise with NaNo HQ.

Judy: It’s part of our job to coordinate and organise write-ins and other activities for the region.

Chris: keep the peace as best as possible, enforcing rules and ensuring that the group is a safe and friendly place for writers to celebrate (or lament) the literary profession among like minded individuals.

One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is there are both online and in-person Write-ins.

I asked my experts, What can newbies expect when going to their first Write-in /meet-up?

Judy: It will depend entirely on the group and their dynamics. Some groups will just want to talk, having a good old chin-wag over a cup of coffee, while others will read out their work and want feedback. Every group is different, catering to a different set of needs. No one group is the same.
If it's a scheduled NaNoWriMo write-in, you can guarantee that there will be writing and little talking.

Chris: A warm welcome, inquiry into your current writing foray and general merriment. A brief interrogation, but that's just us being interested in what you're writing about. During NaNoWriMo, the MLs running the meetups will keep people from being distracted from their writing. They are fairly relaxed atmospheres and there is no obligation to go for the long haul, but incentives for being able to reach certain word goals. They are set up for people who want a place to write and/or talk about writing.

What To Expect at Write-ins:
Some groups will just want to talk
a good old chin-wag
A warm welcome

What are the benefits of attending Write-ins?

Talia: I would have to say the bouncing of ideas. We talk about what we want our story to do, how we are going about it, we discuss our characters. And we take inspiration from what and how the others are writing their stories, but also we can ask them for help clearing a writers block. We share our ideas freely, and sometimes it is the people themselves who provide the inspiration. Of course it is always nice to be able to talk about the madness that we are participating in with people who understand.

Judy: For one, it’s where you can meet other writers who understand the trials and tribulations that you are facing. They’re either going through it too, or have been there at some point in the past. They will help you through. Depending on the group dynamics, you can talk out your stories, bouncing ideas around the table. Sometimes, to make sense of something yourself, you need a sounding board. Even body language responses to an idea can be valuable feedback. Those that write 100% in isolation are missing out on these wonderful resources.

Benefits of attending NaNoWriMo Write-ins :
Bouncing of ideas

Meeting other writers

Other than the offical website, what On-line gatherings are there?

Judy: This year, Amy and I have joined with MLs from Queensland, Australia and Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA for a special chat room that we can all use. The chat room will be open to all, regardless where you are in the world, with the MLs from the three regions being the moderators and occasionally running virtual write-ins. The chat room uses new technology and will be hosted by Jessie Sanders on her website Full details about the chat room will be made public come mid-October.

What tips can you share that will improve first timers’ experiences whether joining in on-line or in person.

Talia: Don't give up! There will be at least a few times where you think that you've lost your mind, you haven't - but you should probably go to your nearest write-in, they have all been there and understand what it's like, and they may even be able to help you. Don't Edit as you write - NaNoWriMo is the production of a first draft, don't edit, don't delete; make notes in the column if you wrote something and really hate it, but leave it there ALL THE WORDS COUNT, and remember it's just a first draft.

Judy: The biggest advice I can give to any first timers is to introduce yourself. Make sure people know you’re there. You don’t need to delve into your life story –– share only what you feel comfortable sharing –– but if the others don’t know you’re there, they want interact with you. I know it can be scary, but do it. Move out of your comfort zone. These are fellow writers. They are on the same path as you, just maybe at different points. They’ll understand. They’ll help you through.

Chris: Be yourself. Whether you're a dabbler or a seasoned pro, it's important to be comfortable. If you are a complete introvert then it may not be your cup of tea, but I'm an introvert myself and you can find me engaging in a topical discussion to retreating into my own crafted worlds on the screen, typing furiously. We don't judge. Online instances may be easier to ignore or harder to ignore depending on who you are, so while I will find I may end up writing instead of talking online (typing elsewhere won't exactly contribute effectively to wordcount), but more often than not I would be looking for a little distraction, which ends up being a bigger distraction, until you find yourself at 3am having started from a funny cat video to astrophysics papers on trinary star systems with the occasional planetary body stuck in a tidally locked orbit.

NaNoWriMo Pro Tips:
Don't give Up
Introduce Yourself

Be Yourself

What can people do the rest of the year?

Talia: The rest of the year, is for rewriting, editing, and planning. And of course publishing, for those who go that route. But for those who want to write more on their novels, or have other projects, there is Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July; and you set your own word count goal.

Judy: NaNoWriMo is about development a habit for writing. There is no reason why that should stop. If you want to participate in other events like it, there are two CampNaNos a year (April and July). There are also Facebook groups that run similar events. Take part in the Twitter hashtag #NaNoWriMo. The possibilities are endless. Even if you have no desire to participate in another NaNo-type event, you should still write.

Chris: Keep writing of course! Like I said, December is usually reserved for editing if you want to make something of the story you create, getting it ready to a publishable state. Others just start up new projects, or prepare for the next year's NaNoWriMo events including Camp NaNoWriMo events that occur in both April and July, SoCNoC (Southern Cross Novel Challenge) which is NaNoWriMo but put on for June to be more in line with the southern hemisphere's yearly downtime. There are also various competitions, anthologies and other various calls for submission happening throughout the year, so there is no shortage of writing motivators. Otherwise we can go back to being normal human beings for the 11 months until the craziness happens again.
What do you wish you knew when you first started attending?

Talia: I would have to say, that I wish I knew that write-ins are the best. It sounds ridiculous, but I wish I knew how amazing the write-ins are. How great the people who attend them are.

Chris: Perhaps a little more information about where the meetups were happening. That said, I had only discovered its existence in Christchurch while I was working fulltime, so the first year I barely had time to find out where gatherings were happening, much less get any writing done. Since then with a little more flexibility and scheduling out blocks of time, to having more of an active role in the community, it's been a lot of fun meeting the new writers and helping them on their way to finishing their stories in any way possible.

NaNoWriMo TOP Tips:
Write-ins are the Best
Great People

Thanks everyone, it was great to hear what you had to say. I’m really looking forward to being part of my first NaNoWriMo.

This article wouldn't have been possible without the generous help of my experts:

Talia Nyx

Living in Otago, New Zealand surrounded by students is where Talia Nyx most enjoys writing. She has three currently published works, and is constantly experimenting with style and genre. Talia also loves reading, and will read almost anything once.

Feel free to check out Talia on Wordpress, where she will keep you up to date with the writing she has on her plate, and what she is planning to write during the approaching November for NaNoWriMo. Her other social media is @TaliaNyxAuthor Twitter and Facebook. 

Judy L Mohr

Kiwi Judy L Mohr is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is also a freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services (, working on projects from writers around the world. When she isn't writing, editing or doing something for writing within the local community, she is hosting her own radio show about science on KLRN Radio ( You can find out more about Judy's various projects on her personalwebsite or follow her on twitter @JudyLMohr.

Chris Yee

Chris Yee is a long-time member of the Christchurch Writers' Guild and a teacher in Film, Video and Animation. In 2015 he  approached to teach Stop Motion movies using Lego for the Imagination Station based in Christchurch. 
He's recently moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota

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