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Night of Writing Dangerously

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The Night of Writing Dangerously (or NOWD) is a write-a-thon fundraiser hosted by National Novel Writing Month during the November NaNoWriMo event. It typically takes place on a Sunday evening in November in San Francisco.


The idea for a write-a-thon fundraiser was inspired by the New York Writers Coalition. After deciding to do a fundraiser, OLL held its first Night of Writing Dangerously on November 17, 2007. Wrimos who had donated at least $200 to NaNoWriMo, either through Firstgiving or directly through the NaNoWriMo website, were eligible to RSVP and attend the event. The Night of Writing Dangerously also included a candy buffet provided by long-time Wrimo and staff member Cybele May, dinner, a talk by Chris Baty, prizes for the top five fundraisers, raffles that attendees can enter, and of course writing.

In 2009 longtime Wrimo and Edmonton municipal liaison Sarah Mackey joined the NaNoWriMo staff to coordinate the write-a-thon. The fundraising methods also changed in several ways: participants raised money via GiftTool instead of Firstgiving, and they had to donate separately for the regular donor goodies thanks to receiving separate Night of Writing Dangerously goodies. However, they still received a halo in December. The event also received its own forum so attendees could ask questions and chat with other attending Wrimos, while non-attendees could live vicariously through those who would be there.

The 2010 Night of Writing Dangerously write-a-thon was held November 21, 2010. Participants still raised money through GiftTool.

In 2011, the number of available spaces for the Night of Writing Dangerously was raised from 200 to 250. OLL changed its fundraising system from GiftTool to StayClassy. The 2011 Night of Writing Dangerously took place on 20 November. The #nowd Twitter hashtag also trended at the top of San Francisco's trending topics during the event[1][2].

Since 2012 NaNoWriMo has held a special deal on Night of Writing Dangerously tickets; guests gained admission after raising $200 before the end of July ($300 if they wanted to bring a guest). In August the price goes up to the regular $250 ($350 if they wanted to bring a guest). The 2012 Night of Writing Dangerously took place on 18 November, and the 2013 event occurred on 17 November.

Night of Writing Dangerously Now

Today the basic idea behind the Night of Writing Dangerously remains the same. Attendees must raise at least $250 USD to attend the event and $350 if they want to bring a guest. The Night of Writing Dangerously still comes with goodies, a dinner, Cybele's candy buffet, and a talk from NaNo's program director and executive director, along with raffles for prizes that attendees can enter with their fundraising tickets--one for each $50 raised. Each attendee automatically gets five tickets, and those who bring guests can divide their tickets with their guest if they choose. While all attendees receive a halo in December for fundraising, they must donate directly to the Donation Station if they want Donation Station goodies.

There are also prizes for the top fundraisers, usually five. These fundraisers do not get raffle tickets, instead getting their grand prizes when they arrive. Past prizes have included laptops, iPod touches, and Kindles. 2011 prizes included an iPad 2 and a Kindle Fire, the latter of which had just been released. Past winners of these prizes have included Sarah Mackey (second place in 2008) and Tupelo Hassman (first place in 2008) [3].

The weekend surrounding the Night of Writing Dangerously contains several events, both official and unofficial. OLL typically holds a tea for current MLs who will be in the area that weekend, both local MLs and Night of Writing Dangerously attendees. The NaNo staff also let out of town attendees visit the Office in Berkeley the days before the event. In past years OLL staff have also held an event for out of towners on Saturday evening. Wrimos attending Night of Writing Dangerously often coordinate their own events such as a Sunday morning breakfast and write-in after the out-of-towner event. Some attendees attend write-ins with local Wrimos.

The 2011, 2012, and 2013 Nights of Writing Dangerously were held in the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

Night of Writing Dangerously Traditions

Much like NaNoWriMo, the Night of Writing Dangerously comes with its own traditions.

  • Table wars: Competitive word wars between tables to see which table can write the most words over the course of the evening. Participating tables enter their start and end total word count for the table, along with the number of participants at the table. Winners are determined by the average word count per participant.
  • Word sprints: Shorter timed writing sessions in which the goal is to write as many words as possible. These sprints are shorter at the beginning of the evening (10 minutes) and get longer as the evening goes on (30 minutes). When the war ends, someone who thinks they won yells out their word count. Then someone with a higher word count goes, and on until a winner is determined. The winner for handwriters receives a prize and the honor of wearing chainmail for the next hour, while the typist winner receives a prize and the privilege of wearing a flowerpot hat.
  • Late evening donuts and cookies: Donuts and cookies are served in the late evening. Tavia Stewart-Streit baked the cookies in early years; however, Sweet Adeline Bakery now bakes the cookies.
  • Author photos: Attendees have the opportunity to have professional author photos taken. They can use a variety of props. They receive their photos some time after the event, once they're all sorted.
  • The Viking helmet: Wrimos can submit their total word count for the evening at the end of the event. Whoever writes the most words wins their very own Viking helmet, much like the one given to $2500 donors through the Donation Station. RowanD won the Viking helmet from 2010 to 2013; however, she gave up the Viking helmet to the second place winner jasmine.evans in 2013.

Regional Night of Writing Dangerously spinoffs

For those who can't attend the Night of Writing Dangerously, some regions hold their own regional spinoffs. The Nashville, Tennessee region held the Evening of Scribbling Furiously in 2009 and invited the surrounding regions to the event. In 2010 Nashville held the Evening of Scribbling Recklessly, and the Sydney, Australia region hosted the Night of Manuscripting Madness event. 2011 saw Nashville's third Evening of Scribbling Recklessly and Atlanta's first Evening of Writing Wildly. Atlanta repeated its Evening of Writing Wildly event in 2012 and 2013.

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