How to reap the rewards of the Nanowrimo community all year long

Watch my top 3 strategies for building a year-round writing community through Nanowrimo instead!

Nanowrimo is almost over and amazing things are happening. People all over the world are verifying their word counts and watching their green bars turn purple. Thousands more are buckling down to finish their novels–or at least their 50K–in the next few days. Many of those thousands are scrambling to push out an insane amount of words. Some are even using the crazy word count building tricks I shared here last week.

There’s something incredible, magical even, about all these people mutually achieving a common goal. A deep camaraderie that comes from sharing the same trials and tribulations and eventually the same success. It’s the deepest sense of community I’ve ever felt.

And in a few days it will all go away. Everyone in your Nanowrimo community will return to their regularly scheduled lives. Regional Nanowrimo groups will host their final events of the year and separate for 11 months. The forums will die. If Nanowrimo is your only writing community you will find yourself suddenly and desperately alone. You might only be halfway through your novel, but the rest of the community is completely done with Nanowrimo. Nobody will be around to cheer you on when that book hits 60K, 70K, 80K, “The End”.

I struggled with this problem myself for three years. When Nano ended, so did my community. I still wrote during the rest of the year, but at a much slower pace. Staying motivated proved difficult without anyone around to support me.

At the end of my fourth Nanowrimo I decided that this wasn’t going to happen again. I couldn’t keep the Nanowrimo community active, but I could make friends who would stick around all year. And I did–many friends who served as my best cheerleaders and eventually my first critique partners.

Today I’m going to walk you through how you can do the same.

How to build Nanowrimo-style community into your life year round

NaNo-2017-Participant-BadgeUse these five strategies to keep your Nanowrimo friends (and motivation) all year long:

1. Start a thread for Year Round Writers in your local Nanowrimo group

Many Nanowrimo participants only write during Nanowrimo. Those people are great and friendships with them can be valuable, but they’re not going to provide the same level of community or support as year round writers.

So go out of your way to find other people who plan to write all year long. Start with a thread in your local Nanowrimo community seeking other year round writers to connect with. Share your email addresses or social media pages, whatever you feel most comfortable using to connect. Way back when I started seeking writerly connections on the Nanowrimo forums it was my MSN name (remember that?).

2. Try to arrange a social gathering after Nanowrimo

One of my favourite local Nanowrimo events is our annual pancake night. On a Tuesday night in December, after Nanowrimo ends and even after our TGIO (Thank God It’s Over Party), we gather at a local restaurant for their pancake special. We hang out and talk about everything under the sun–except for Nanowrimo. There’s no pressure, nobody’s behind on their word count, and we can just get to know each other. Without all the pressure of Nanowrimo this event becomes the perfect place to form deeper friendships–and get contact information so you can keep in touch with these people all year long.

It’s a little bit late in the month now to announce an event like this, but it’s still worth a shot (with the blessing of your MLs). Figure out a good, affordable place you can go and try to get at least a few people out.

Pro Tip: Don’t schedule your event any later than December 10th. The holidays start early for a lot of people!

3. Have a weekly writing session? Try to keep it going!

In Toronto we have three weekly writing sessions: one on Mondays, one on Wednesdays, and one on Fridays. The events on Mondays and Wednesdays end with Nanowrimo, but a small group of dedicated writers still show up at the coffee shop on Friday evenings. Attendance is inconsistent during the off season, but on any given evening you can expect to see at least three writers there.

This might not be feasible if you live in a small town, but if you’re in a city you can likely do something similar. Rope three specific writers into coming every week and let everyone else know you’ll be there. Sooner or later more people will start showing up. And even if you only have four people, that’s still four people ready to cheerlead or commiserate–whatever you need.

4. Go beyond your local Nano group

Having a local community of writers is great, but sometimes it’s not possible. Or it’s not enough. You need more than two or three fellow writers supporting you, and to find them, you can turn to the other Nanowrimo forums.

Start with the forums for your genre and age group, then branch out from there. Look for threads trying to build community year round or start some of your own. Reach out to as many people as possible, knowing that many will drop off your radar as the year goes by. Everyone’s commitment level to writing, and to their writing communities, is different. Your goal is to find and befriend the most seriously committed writers–and in about six months you’ll know who those are based on who is still around.

5. Try other Nanowrimo-style challenges

Nanowrimo has inspired a lot of things. It’s inspired millions of people to write books they never thought they had in them. It’s pushed thousands of people to pursue author careers they previously only dreamed about. Hundreds of those people have already published books that began during Nanowrimo.

It’s also inspired dozens of timed creative challenges. There are at least three to choose from every month. None have quite the size or strength of Nanowrimo’s community, but they’re all wonderful places to meet other writers. I’ve participated in several of these challenges, and the ones I enjoyed most were National Novel Writing Year, the A to Z Challenge, and August Novel Writing Month. These challenges helped me meet some incredible people I still know to this day, and they can help you do the same.

Have you tried any of these strategies in the past? What about other ways to connect with writers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!