Frequently Asked Questions…or What to Do Before and After You Panic

So, you’re thinking about doing NaNo. Maybe you’ve even signed up at the official site. Good for you! But sometime soon, it’s going to hit you that you might just have bitten off more than you can chew. Not to worry, that is normal. We’ve compiled this list of questions and answers to help ease your mind as you get your feet wet in the world of novelling on the fly.

Who are you people?

The Calgary Wrimotaurs are the residents of Calgary and the surrounding area who participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those who are still confused, NaNoWriMo is a madcap novel writing adventure that happens in November every year. During that frigid month, the goal is to write 50,000 words.

What is an ML, exactly?

ML stands for Municipal Liaison. As MLs, Naiya and Xanateria plan the 3 main social events for NaNo. Those are the Kick Off Party, the Midway Party, and the TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) Party. They also send out weekly pep talk emails, organize weekly in person and chat write-ins and moderate the Calgary regional forums, and chat room. They also organize Newcomers Night, 12-hour Write-In, and and Midnight Kick Off, and manage the Facebook page and Twitter for the region. And last, but certainly not least, they deal with any questions and concerns from Wrimotuars, and act as personal cheerleaders to make sure as many of them as possible cross the finish line. If you have questions or concerns, or even if you just need some help with motivation or juggling real life and NaNo, get in touch with them ASAP. Visit the community page to find out how.

What is my home region and how do I set it?

You should have set your home region to Canada :: Alberta :: Calgary as part of the signup process. This will make sure you will receive emails and updates from your oh-so-efficient MLs, and that your words will count towards regional totals. This is especially important for the regional challenges.

What are the rules of NaNoWriMo?

In order to participate in NaNoWriMo, you must be 13 years or older. If you are not, don`t worry, there is still an option for you. Click here to learn all about the Young Writers Program.

NaNoWriMo challenges you to write 50,000 words of a new work of fiction from November 1st to 30th. That is, you are supposed to start a brand new fiction novel, that you write yourself, once November officially starts.

I’ve read the rules on the on the official site about what I am supposed to write, and I really want to write fanfiction/a script/poetry/an ode to the MLs/something.

NaNoWriMo is a self challenge, so no one can stop you if you choose to write something other than traditional fiction. In the case of NaNoWriMo, quantity counts for more than quality. The idea is to gag your inner editor and just write; tell the story you have inside you. If writing something outside the traditional novel is what helps you get going, then more power to you. Although we encourage thinking outside the box when it comes to what you write, please remember that plagiarism or any other harmful rule breaking is not tolerated.

What do I win if I manage to finish NaNoWriMo?

Once we get closer to the end of November, you will be able to upload a copy of your novel and verify the word count in it to win. Once you have done that, you unlock the area of the site that contains a nifty winners certificate and some web badges and icons that are specifically for those who cross the finish line.

In addition to that, your MLs think all winners deserve a more tangible prize so we solicit donations from merchants and craft-minded participants. These prizes are distributed at TGIO, so take note. You cannot win a prize if you do not attend.

I`ve heard the MLs say that they take prize donations for TGIO. I’m not crafty at all. Can I still donate a prize?

If you wish to donate a prize but aren’t up to making anything, fear not. The MLs will gratefully accept gift cards, baked goods, or almost anything else. For safety’s sake, if you donate baked goods, we require a list of ingredients. All prizes must be delivered to an ML by November 30th. If you want to donate a prize but don’t drive, get in touch with an ML to see if arrangements for pickup can be made.

I’m not much of a writer. Can I still do NaNoWriMo?

The short answer is a resounding YES!!

This is one of the most common doubts that perspective participants have. NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily about quality, it’s about quantity. The whole point is to gag your inner editor and tell the story you have inside you. You don’t have to be perfect, or even close to it. No one even has to see your draft if you don’t want them to. So, tie your inner perfectionist to a chair, and get words on the page as fast as you can. You can cross the finish line, we know it. But even if you don’t, even a fraction of the 50,000 is more than you had when you started.

I have a job/kids/school/alien abduction to cope with. Is it still possible to finish NaNoWriMo?

One of the lucky things about Calgary being a larger NaNoWriMo region is that we have an incredibly diverse group of participants. Whatever challenge you might be facing, there is likely a participant who can empathize with it, even if they aren’t going through the exact same thing. We have had participants who had passels of children, others who have worked 2 and 3 jobs, and still more who deal with chronic medical conditions. Regardless of what else you have going on, it is possible to finish NaNoWriMo. Not only are the participants diverse, they are very supportive so if you are worried about juggling life and NaNoWriMo, get involved with the community and let us help you. There are no fees or dues of any sort that you must pay to attend any of our events. Our events are held in restaurants because they were the venues most able to accommodate us, but you are not required to order food or drink. We encourage people to order, in support of the venue, but it is by no means mandatory. If transportation costs are an issue, please consider posting to the regional ride sharing post on the forum.

What are the main events for NaNoWriMo in Calgary

The Calgary Wrimotaurs are very busy during the official month of NaNoWriMo. The main social events are the Kick Off and TGIO bashes. Besides those three, our region also holds a Midnight Kick Off or First Day Write in and a Marathon Write-In. Visit the Calgary NaNo Facebook for more details and information.

I want to come to an in person event, but I am broke. What should I do?

Though many of our in person events are held at restaurants, you are only encouraged to order. It is not required. We understand that budgets can be very tight. There are no fees to attend any of our in person events and participation in any fundraising we do is strictly voluntary. If transportation is an issue, please visit our regional ridesharing thread on the forum.

Can I bring my spouse/child/friend/bodyguard to an Event?

Yes. You are encouraged to bring along whoever you need for moral support. In NaNo terms, anyone who comes with you, but isn’t interested in writing is called your novel adjacent person. This can be a friend, spouse, co-worker, teammate or anyone else you feel comfortable with. We are a very friendly and tolerant bunch, but we know that meeting people from the Internet can be scary, so if having someone with you makes that easier, then by all means, bring them along.

Though children must be at least 13 years of age to participate in NaNoWriMo, you can bring your child with you, if you feel that is the best option for you. However, please be respectful of the fact that the group has a widely varied membership, some of whom may not be as comfortable around children as you might like. As well, once the social aspect of the evening has concluded and the group is doing writing exercises, any children in attendance need to be able to be quiet for as long as is necessary. Sadly, the ML and staff are not baby-sitters. Keep in mind your children’s tolerance for quiet time – or, more importantly, for watching you indulge in me-time. We thank you in advance for your cooperation. If your child is  disruptive, you may be asked not to bring them with you again.

Is there a NaNoWriMo code of conduct?

There are accepted rules of behaviour on the forums, and our region has a formal code of conduct located here.

How do I donate to NaNoWriMo? Is it mandatory?

Just as there are no fees or dues to attend events, there are also no requirements in terms of donations. If you want to donate, all regional events include Mr. Piggy, the regional piggy bank you can feed all your spare change to. At the end of the NaNoWriMo events for the year, the total cash from him is donated in Calgary’s name to NaNoWriMo. You can also choose to get sponsored during NaNoWriMo, or donate through the donation station. Visit the NaNoWriMo webpage for more information (look under Donations/Store).

Are the events wheelchair accessible?

Yes. Our events are all held at wheelchair accessible venues. We do our best to make sure that anyone who might want to attend can do so without problem. No matter what challenges you might face, we want you to be able  to attend any events you choose.

If you have questions about whether a venue will work for you, please contact an ML with your concern.

You still haven’t answered the biggest question. How do I write 50,000 words that fast?

We know, 50,000 words often seems like a lot. Trust us, you can do it! There are many resources online to  help you write more, and write faster. We recommend reading No Plot No Problem, or using Write Or Die as a starting point. A quick Google search will net you many more helpful tips. Most importantly, get involved in our community. Post to the Facebook group if you need tips. Pop into chat if you need encouragement. Message an ML if you need extra support. We want to see you cross the finish line just as much as you do.

I still have questions. What should I do?

Click here to email an ML. We would be pleased to answer any questions or concerns. Just like they used to tell you in grade school, the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked. You can also post to the Facebook group at any time. You can use NaNo mail to ask your question, but it has been known to glitch, so we encourage you to email, especially if your question is time sensitive.

I thought NaNoWriMo was in November, but your Facebook group says you have events year round. I’m confused.

You are correct. NaNoWriMo happens in November. The social events and the write-ins happen in November (except TGIO, which happens in December). However, as a group, we have decided we want the chance to keep in touch throughout the year and get some writing motivation. As a result, we meet once a month year round.

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