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A novel in a month: the tale of overly-caffeinated Naptown novelists

Posted by: Katie Breden
Posted: November 6, 2018
Categories: Networking & Social, Arts & Entertainment

I’m a weird, young, craft beer-drinking, queer, 20-something creative professional living in Indianapolis. Of course I want to be at the Halloween drag show in Irvington on October 31st.

Costumes, local beer, partying, drag. Of course.

Getting set up to write as many words as possible for NaNoWriMo. Insta: @kmbreden

Instead, I sit alone in my house, wearing my partner’s Hogwarts robes as a last-minute costume, fingers flying frantically over a keyboard as I attempt to finish the outline of a novel I will begin to write at midnight once I meet up with 50 other Indianapolis WriMos.


It comes from the full name of the phenomenon: NaNoWriMo. This stands for National Novel Writing Month, though the annual November tradition that began as a casual challenge between several friends in California in the 90s is now an international affair (they say that “InNoWriMo” just doesn’t have the same ring to it).

Here’s the low-down on the vocab:

“WriMo” = either a ludicrously optimistic or mildly masochistic individual who decides to willingly challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in one month

“NaNo” = the abbreviation to refer to said challenge

“Sprint” = a set period of time for WriMos, whether virtually or in-person, to write without distraction for the duration of the chosen time period, ranging anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes or more

“Word War” = a sprint involving one or more WriMos who compare their respective sprint word counts to determine the Word War Winner (the prize is usually just bragging rights)

“TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) Party” = a party taking place in December to celebrate the end of a breathless month of storytelling and (hopefully) shiny new first-draft novels

“ML (Municipal Liaison)” = local volunteers who inspire their communities to write by organizing in-person write-ins and meet-ups throughout November (Thanks, Rachelle and Christine!)

Indy WriMos at the annual “House Cup” event in 2017, where Harry Potter-themed teams compete to write the most words during the free event. Photo cred: Rachelle Wood, NaNoWriMo Indianapolis ML

Which brings me to those 50 Indianapolis WriMos at midnight on October 31st, gathered in one room, poised to begin their individual journeys toward 50,000 words by November’s end, and connected by an invigorating camaraderie that brings to mind Indy’s other local bad-asses who ran the Monumental Marathon just a few days later: “How many miles?!” (”How many words?!”). “Good for them, but they’re hogging the roads!” (”They’re hogging the coffee shops!”). And finally: “They all look a bit…eccentric, no?”

We do. And if you can roll with that, grab your laptop, or just good old-fashioned pen and paper, and meet us at an upcoming write-in.

To get involved, create a free account at NaNoWriMo.org and join our home region here. You’ll find a calendar of all our events, as well as links to multiple resources. If you don’t want to wait until the next event, hop into the Discord Chat Room (linked on the Indy home region below “Meet Your MLs”) to meet folks virtually who will get you writing right away with timed writing sprints and friendly banter!

You don’t need experience, and especially if you’re joining late in the game, you don’t need to hit 50,000 words this year. You just need to love writing, and you’ll have a built-in community of local writers who will support you through your project.

With that, I must end this blog and return to my novel. My built-in NaNo community is calling, reminding me of November’s ceaseless and irresistible challenge:

Get writing!


Learn more:

NaNoWriMo FAQs

NaNoWriMo History

Indianapolis NaNoWriMo Group

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