It is that time of the year again: the leaves are changing, the air is cooler, and we have less sunlight. For many libraries, it is also time to prepare for and promote National Novel Writing Month, or as it is better known, NaNoWriMo, which takes place from November 1st to November 30th every year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. Writers register at NaNoWriMo.org and keep a running tally of their progress, and share their novel’s current word count and synopsis.
Promotion of the event usually starts in August/September in most libraries, so now is the time when libraries are hosting prep events and finalizing plans to be Come Write In (CWI) spaces. Last year, NaNoWriMo had almost 400,000 participants and close to 1,200 participating libraries and bookstores.[i]
NaNoWriMo is not just for adults. NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program[ii] is like the main program, but specifically geared for teen/young students. Young writers have the flexibility to set their own word quota and do not have to adhere to the daunting 50,000 words in one month goal. Young Writers are given motivation to keep their quotas by earning badges for accomplishing certain writing goals. Another cool feature for young writers is the Dare Machine, which populates story ideas/twists to encourage creativity and challenges into the writing process.
While others only host activities until the end of November, some libraries host events into spring with workshops on editing and publishing. But it doesn’t have to end there. NaNoWriMo has an option for those wanting to keep the writing love all year round. Camp NaNoWriMo hosts writing sessions in April and July. What makes these sessions special is that you set your own writing quota and join a “cabin” with nineteen other writers. Your cabinmates can share encouragement, pointers, and act as a sounding board for ideas that you are unsure of. It’s like actual camp, but online and with novelists. You can use this time of collaboration to write something new or edit a current work. If you meet your writing goals during Camp NaNoWriMo, you are eligible to win prizes.
NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, and Camp NaNoWriMo serve as tools in a librarian’s kit of programming and learning for people of all ages and abilities. We need to use what is available to us, especially when the resource is free and programming costs are low. If your library is not participating next month, that does not mean that you cannot start planning for an April Camp NaNoWriMo event. Everyone has a story to tell, but some may find expressing themselves to be challenging, or need help finding inspiration. Being around other writers and being held accountable are great ways to overcome these obstacles.