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Tis The Season For NaNoWriMo

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 1, 2010 8:20PM

2010_11ChiWriMo.jpg The first of November marks the start of an international event in which thousands of writers around the world vow to do something kind of ridiculous: write a 50,000-word novel in one month. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is rare in the creative world because it stresses quantity over quality: “Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap,” the event’s website says. “And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

There aren’t many rules, and the winners of the challenge are determined by honor system. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, NaNoWriMo does, too. If you say you wrote your 50,000th word on November 30, 11:59 p.m., they’ll believe you. There isn’t really any reason to cheat since the only person you’re competing against is yourself. In 2009, NaNoWriMo had 165,000+ participants, and 30,000+ of them completed the challenge.

Since writing a novel in one month’s time is an incredibly lonely and daunting task, NaNoWriMo encourages participants to interact with other members of their writing community for encouragement and ideas. ChiWriMo supports participants in and around Chicago. Perhaps you’ve always thought about writing a novel, or that pesky economy has left you unemployed or underemployed. Or maybe you’re dreading the Chicago weather turning from brisk to ick. NaNoWriMo could be the perfect pick-me-up. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Get started already. If you’re going to finish 50,000 by the end of the month, you’ll need to write roughly 1,667 words a day. Go to, register (it’s free) and start writing asap. Select Chicago as your home region so you’ll get emails tailored to your area.
  2. Check the forums. Introduce yourself to other ChiWriMos and make some friends. Look for wrimos in your neighborhood or area and plan a write-in together. The forums also have updates about Chicagoland events happening throughout the month.
  3. Attend a write-in. Write-ins are happening almost every day of the month, so check out the calendar and see if there are any nearby. They’re happening all over the city, and in the suburbs, too. Here are some ones we recommend:
    • Tuesday Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at Open Books from 4 pm - 7pm.
    • Monday Nov. 15 and Nov. 29 at StoryStudio Chicago, from 4 pm to 9 pm. $10 buys unlimited coffee, soda, pizza, snacks and inspiration. StoryStudio is also dedicating their Nov. 20 Write-a-Thon to NaNoWriMo.
    • Saturday Nov. 13 at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square from 4 pm to 6 pm.
    • The Statewide Write-in on Nov. 20 at the Inn of Chicago from 11am - 2 pm
  4. Donate some books. All writers know procrastination is key to success. So take a break from writing, and clean out your bookshelves. Books are being collected at all official write-ins, and there are drop-off locations all throughout the city. The proceeds from the sale of the donated books will expand and improve the free creative writing workshops offered by the Office and Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo’s for-profit parent organization. While NaNoWriMo is officially over at the end of the month, the book drive doesn’t end until Dec. 15.
  5. Get more info. Visit ChiWriMo on Facebook, on Twitter or the ChiWriMo chat room.