It’s November and it’s NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, the phenomenon that has people globally putting pen to paper to achieve 50,000 words in one month. Anyone, regardless of experience, age, gender or nationality, can join the virtual international community and support network that helps people find their voice through writing, and what’s better than that? Hastings Central Library and Sea Kale are supporting local scribes by providing the space for the write-ins that we’ve organised.

Writing is a solitary business and many of us enjoy that some of the time – and then we don’t: we crave people, company, support. That was the motivating factor behind Chris Baty setting up NaNoWriMo, in 1999, originally just in the San Francisco Bay Area: he wanted to write a novel, but he didn’t think he’d be able to do it alone. He wanted a community, so he dreamed up National Novel Writing Month and invited his friends to join him, the rules simple: no fees, no judges, no prizes, the “win” writing in itself. Twenty-one of his friends signed up, six finishing novels and the shock for all of them was it was fun. Now in its nineteenth year, Baty’s concept has grown well beyond its original remit, an unwieldy beast that attracts hundreds of thousands of virgin, struggling and experienced and published authors of all ages, sexes, races and disciplines, all eager to take a punt at “winning”, yes by completing 50,000 words but also by taking that leap of faith to actually write.

Although I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for years, this is the first time I’m actually taking part, and while the virtual community is fantastic and the resources for would-be writers extensive, not just on the website but across all social media platforms too, there’s nothing like being in a room with other people with the same end in sight. So, that’s where the write-ins come in.

With the support of Hastings Central Library and Sea Kale, an independent café in St Leonards, there are five write-ins this month, where people are invited to come along and put words on a page or screen, but in company. It’s that simple.

Hastings Central Library, which reopened in March this year, beautifully restored and thankfully well-funded in this time of library closures, was the first to come on-board, and there will be two Saturday afternoon write-ins on 17 and 24 November. Sea Kale has also very kindly thrown its hat in the ring, providing the venue for three weekday morning sessions on 8, 22 and 30 November (also the last day of NaNoWriMo).

The write-ins are drop-in and, while primarily for NaNoWriMo, anyone is welcome, whether you’re writing a letter, lyrics, a novel or something else altogether. It’s about the experience, the support and providing a safe space for us all to thrive in creatively. There’s been a lot of interest and the hope is that these sessions will continue on a monthly basis after the novel writing month ends.

Come write-in.

The November write-ins:

Thursday 8 November – 10–12, Sea Kale

Saturday 17 November – 12–4, Hastings Central Library

Thursday 22 November – 10–12, Sea Kale

Saturday 24 November – 12–4, Hastings Central Library

Friday 30 November – the final day – 10–12, Sea Kale

Sea Kale is also offering 10 percent off the final bill for people participating in the write-ins. Simply mention NaNoWriMo.


If anyone is interested in monthly write-ins, please contact Aruna.

Happy writing, or happy whatever you are doing.



A version of this article has been published on HOT, 6 November 2018.


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