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Night of Writing Dangerously

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The Night of Writing Dangerously (or NOWD) was a write-a-thon fundraiser hosted by National Novel Writing Month during the November NaNoWriMo event. It typically took place on a Sunday evening in November in San Francisco. The last Night of Writing Dangerously took place in 2018.


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, coordinate meetups for out-of-towners, 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].

In 2012 and 2013 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. 2013 also marked the first time that Night of Writing Dangerously tickets sold out, with a full house of 250.

In 2014 the ticket price went up to $275. The number of available spaces went down to 225 due to feedback from the 2013 event. The 2014 Night of Writing Dangerously took place on 16 November. Like the events of the previous few years, it was held in San Francisco's Julia Morgan Ballroom. The early bird special gave a special event-customized tumbler and two extra raffle tickets to the first 50 people to RSVP.

In 2015, the ticket price to bring a guest increased to $450 due to rising costs of putting on the event, which is still a discount compared to registering and fundraising separately. The early bird special gave attendees two extra raffle tickets for registering by August 31.

In 2016 and 2017, the ticket price was $300, or $425 to bring a guest. The early bird special during these years allowed Wrimos to register by August 1 for $275. The 2016 Night of Writing Dangerously took place on November 20, while the 2017 event takes place on November 19.

The 2018 Night of Writing Dangerously took place on November 18, with individual tickets at $375 and $650 to bring a guest. This year introduced the ability to purchase a ticket directly through the NaNoWriMo store, along with the ability to purchase a table of eight seats for $3,000. NaNoWriMo HQ announced to fundraisers in late September that the 2018 event would be the last event in its current form.

Night of Writing Dangerously - Currently

Today the basic idea behind the Night of Writing Dangerously remains the same. Attendees must raise at least $375 USD to attend the event and $650 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, as NOWD attendees receive different goodies for their fundraising efforts.

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 current all-time fundraising total is $3,750, attained by USA :: Massachusetts :: Boston ML Travis in 2016.

The weekend surrounding the Night of Writing Dangerously contains several events, both official and unofficial. The NaNoWriMo staff typically holds a brunch (tea before 2014) for current MLs who will be in the area that weekend, both local MLs and Night of Writing Dangerously ML attendees from out of town. The NaNo staff also let out of town attendees visit the Office in Berkeley in the days before the event, although Wrimos are strongly encouraged to check with the staff before stopping by. In past years NaNo 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 Nights of Writing Dangerously since 2011 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. Table wars were retired in 2016 for individual challenges that did not rely on sitting with fast writers.
  • 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 until the next sprint winner is crowned--or Viking helmet as of 2016, as the flowerpot hat has disappeared.
  • 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. Claire Rumpler won the Viking helmet in 2014. Asia :: Japan ML JupiterStar won the helmet in 2016, and SF Peninsula ML Christine won it in 2017.
  • Paper crowns and ringing the bell: Wrimos who reach 50,000 words during the event get to ring a bell at the front of the room. At this point, everyone applauds, and the master of ceremonies places a paper crown on their head. Most events feature one or two people who get very close to 50k and then ring the bell in the first few minutes. Wrimos who reach 50,000 words before the event do not get to ring the bell; since 2016, these Wrimos do receive the paper crown.
  • Individual challenges: Started in 2016, the individual challenge awards sets of beads for reaching different word totals written during the event--silver beads for reaching 3,334 words (twice the daily 1,667) and gold beads for reaching 5,000 words (three times the daily 1,667). This challenge replaced the table wars.

For those Wrimos traveling to San Francisco from southern California, the Great Train Escape provides a fun chance to take the train up to San Francisco while getting to know other Wrimos and enjoying the views from the train.

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. The Los Angeles region hosted their first Night of Writing Glamorously in 2014.

Dangerous Writers: Night of Writing Dangerously

Forum description

For attendees of the Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco: All your plans for Fundraising Dangerously, Sightseeing Dangerously, Hotel-Sharing Dangerously, and Writing Dangerously.

Topics and Threads

The forum offers tips for fundraising, things to expect, meetups, and so on.


Current moderators:
Heather Dudley (???-2018)
Paige Knorr (2017-2018)

Past moderators:
Sarah Mackey (???-2016)

External Links