The Awesome Mitten-capital city writers association

Go Green! Go Write! with Lansing-Area Writers

With November almost here, we’re in the thick of football season. Whether you cheer for the Spartans or Wolverines, you know just how critical the outcomes of games are during the 11th month of the year. Rankings are on the line, and the promise of a prominent bowl game looms on the horizon. But did you know November is an important month for writers as well?

It is!

Especially for those gearing up to take part in National Novel Writing Month.

Started in San Francisco in 1999, the initiative has since gone national, and writers all over have been encouraged to write a novel of 50,000 words between Nov. 1 and midnight on Nov. 30. Yep, that’s right. A whole novel. I know – that seems like an intimidating task!

But for those in the mid-Michigan area looking to get serious about their writing, particularly about making a dent in their NaNoWriMo goal, there’s good news: They won’t have to go it alone, for one day at least. A local, professional writing group, the Capital City Writers Association, is here to help.

Playing off the sports fervor during this time of year, and the school colors of the home team, for the second year the organization has found a creative way to merge football and writing together in a fun, themed event called, Go Green! Go Write!

The write-a-thon (with a decidedly Spartan twist) takes place Nov. 7 inside Spartan Stadium’s press box. Running from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the event supports and encourages writers to collectively hit 250,000 words before the day’s end. Attendees will meet other writers, gain insight on writing a novel and become inspired.

CCWA president Louise Ahern said the whole event has a football connection – the CCWA board members are “coaches” and the mini-workshops that take place during the day in between writing sprints are called “huddles.”

“One of our selling points is that NaNoWriMo is a grueling competition of skill and dedication (just like football), and CCWA coaches are here to help you win,” she said.

The Awesome Mitten-capital city writers association
A signed basketball from MSU men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo is a giveaway at this year’s Go Green! Go Write! event. Photo courtesy of Mimi DiFrancesca

And if winning NaNoWriMo isn’t enough incentive, those who attend the event can win some pretty cool MSU swag – from a Mark Dantonio-signed football to a Tom Izzo-signed basketball and some other giveaways.

Oh, and did I mention it’s free? That’s right, the event – the advice, tips, tricks and motivation – it’s all free! Those in attendance will just have to pay for their lunch and dinner. And even that is themed: There will be a concession stand open for people to grab their gameday-style grub.

This isn’t CCWA’s first go at this kind of event, or write-ins in general. Last year was inaugural year of Go Green! Go White!, which was borne from CCWA’s Finish The Damn Book program – a regular writing event that encourages CCWA members to write, no matter what.

“We know that one of the primary obstacles that writers face when trying to complete a novel is finding time to write, so we host regular write-ins, both in person and online, to give people the time and space to focus on nothing but their writing for at least a couple of hours,” Ahern said.

“We have also always built into Finish the Damn Book time to participate in National Novel Writing Month, because we believe NaNoWriMo is a great way to jumpstart the writing process. So we simply combined those two concepts – write-ins and NaNoWriMo – into this very cool event.”

CCWA has been helping those in mid-Michigan become professional writers since 2013. After seeing a lack of professional-level writing conferences in the area, Ahern decided to start her own after polling the interest level of her friends on Facebook. The conference idea then expanded into forming a writing association.

Now, less than three years later, CCWA has 90 dues-paying members, 10 board members, and offers those in the association a variety of resources and access to professional writers.

The Awesome Mitten-capital city writers association
Capital City Writers Association board members pose in the press box of Spartan Stadium, home of Go Green! Go Write! From left: Karen Hopper, Erin Bartels, Louise Knott Ahern, Kelly Rogers, Georgia Shuler, Mimi DiFrancesca, Carol Verboncoeur, Rachel Tear, and Christina Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Capital City Writers Association

With NaNoWriMo beginning in less than a week, Ahern has two simple pieces of advice for those wishing to try their hand at writing a novel:

Do some advance planning. “To get the most out of NaNoWriMo, writers would be wise to plan in advance. Take some time to figure out who your main characters are, what they are after (their goals), the main obstacles that will stand in their way, and how that character will be different at the end of the book than they were at the beginning. If you go into NaNoWriMo with those simple things mapped out, you will have a far easier time crafting a workable first draft of a novel.”

Just write. “The great thing about National Novel Writing Month is that it forces writers to turn off the internal editor – that voice in our heads that tells us what we’re writing is no good. The competitive aspect of the program encourages us to just simply write.”

Check out Go Green! Go Write! for more information, including how to sign up for the event.

So, tell us: Will you be participating in National Novel Writing Month?

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