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NaNoWriMo – this jumbled mouthful of letters may be floating around your social media feeds or you might have friends begging off of plans this month using it as an excuse. Or it’s a complete mystery to you. November is NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s called a “writing contest,” but the only real opponent is the aspiring novelists’ own procrastination. To “win,” participants must write 50,000 words in one month, with a daily goal of 1,667 words per day.

There is no entry fee for participation, though “Wrimos” are encouraged to donate to support the non-profit organization’s mission, which is dedicated to encouraging “vibrant creativity” in the world. NaNoWriMo supports several projects that dovetail with the novel-writing month, like a virtual writing retreat and the Young Writer’s Program. In addition, the website hosts a number of “Pep Talks” from established and idolized authors like Neil Gaiman and James Patterson, as well as NaNoWriMo alums who have had their project novel published, a lofty dream for many participants.

NaNoWriMo has an international reach, as well as a hyper-local one. Municipal Liaisons organize and support the forums for local areas, as well as hosting events like “write-ins” for Wrimos’ home regions. The San Bernardino County area is technically covered by two NaNoWriMo Local Regions: San Bernardino (which includes the region “along Old Route 66 from the deserts to the mountain tops” and has hosted events in Apple Valley, Redlands, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga) and Pomona Valley (which includes Upland and Chino Hills as well as out-of-country, but nearby events in Corona and Claremont). Throughout the month, “Come Write In” events are held in coffee shops, libraries, and universities to help participant-writers boost their word counts or just connect with other writers. Other free workshops, like an ongoing series in San Dimas, are aimed at tackling specific problems writers might be having with their novels. Writing can be a very solitary endeavor, but NaNoWriMo’s enthusiastic community vibe helps motivate writers, many of whom have never attempted a novel before.

This year’s NaNoWriMo is well underway, but visiting the regional communities online even at this late date is a great way to network with other local writers and to prep to enter the challenge next year.

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San Bernardino, CA 92410

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