Write-Ins: Support groups for NaNoWriMo

A group of friends and acquaintances from D.C. and Maryland meets every other Friday in La Madeline in Bethesda to work on writing together. In November, they focus on the National Novel Writing Month challenge -- writing 50,000 words in a month. (Marlena Chertock/Special to WTOP)
Sara Halperin, from Alexandria, Va., and Bettina Huntenburg, from Silver Spring, Md., work on their novels in the middle of November. They are trying to reach 50,000 words by November 30. (Marlena Chertock/Special to WTOP)
Deidre Dykes attended Friday's write-in for the first time. She looks at a plot bunny, used to jump start a story that's stuck. (Marlena Chertock/Special to WTOP)

Marlena Chertock, special to wtop.com

BETHESDA, Md. – Every November, thousands of would-be novelists around the world take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

A group of about ten D.C. area residents meet in the back corner of La Madeline in Bethesda every other Friday to write together at a write-in.

“I find I’m mostly distracted by the house because there’s food in the refrigerator, and then there’s the T.V. and now you have Netflix and everything is instant stream,” said Erica Naylor, from Rockville. “So sometimes just getting out of the house and being with other creative people really helps get the juices flowing.”

Writing can be a solitary activity, so Chuck Hughes, a NaNoWriMo municipal liaison for the D.C. region, often organizes these write-ins.

“We all write together, we’re all working on different stories,” Hughes says. “It’s just a chance to get together as a group.”

They discuss problems in their stories, writer’s block and the looming deadline. Sometimes they use “plot bunnies,” slips of paper in a tin can with writing ideas.

They also have word wars, racing against each other to see who can type the fastest in 10 or 15 minutes.

There’s no award for finishing the novel. But if you reach word count, you can upload the novel onto the NaNoWriMo website and have it officially verified.

This group continues to meet up after the contest. Sometimes they write, but mostly they eat, knit and socialize. They’ve formed friendships through the writing contest.

“Being at a write-in is nice because you don’t feel like you’re alone,” Hughes says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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