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Beyond the First Draft with NaNoWriMo

by on January 4, 2016

You’ve just spent thirty days conducting the best National Novel Writing Month your library can offer. You planned early, stayed late, used your own money, cheered and supported, advertised, and couldn’t stop yourself from hugging the ones who crossed the finish line. Maybe you even joined in the writing yourself and produced something you’re proud to put next to the works you arrange on the shelves.

So now what?

There are plenty of ways to keep up the writing momentum with year-round programs that remind budding novelists that the writing process doesn’t end with the first draft.

Editing Here’s how to make the most important and least enjoyed step of creating fiction fun and useful.

  • Library writing groups. Use the camaraderie you built up in November to help writers get constructive criticism and praise from familiar faces. Regular meetings can be general or broken up into genre, depending on the size of your group and the diversity of their works.
  • Programs with local authors. These guys are fully equipped to show the specifics of revision and how to make it from the same home base as your writers. If they are especially awesome, they might also offer one-on-one help.
  • Online options. If your group is far-flung or can’t commit to regular hours, staying in touch is no harder than opening up a Google group with access granted for anyone who asks. Facebook is also good, not only as a medium for gathering but also as a forum for announcements and information from programs.

Publishing The explosion of electronic resources puts publishing within the grasp of writers on every level. And for those who have been staring at computer screens all month, paper copies offer tangible heft and physical space for rewriting. Or bragging rights.

  • Electronic self-publishing. In addition to Amazon’s self-publishing options, introduce patrons to Self-E, a database curated by Library Journal. Whatever platform the writer chooses, make yourself available for technical help and information on distribution for different devices.
  • Print self-publishing. There are lots of options for physical copies, from basic Office Depot spiral bounds to hardcover. And if your library has a local author section, consider taking copies of local NaNoWriMo efforts (as long as they meet the rest of the requirements for your collection).
  • NaNoWriMo offers to certified winners. Any NaNo-er who registered on the official site and certified their 50,000 words gets access to winner-only discounts on a variety of publishing options (and other services).

Continuing Your patrons don’t want to wait twelve more months to get started on another project, and there are lots of options for you to offer continuous communal support.

  • Community novel. Nobody has time to commit to 50,000+ words by themselves again? Use teamwork! Places like Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library are getting patrons to each contribute one chapter to a novel that will come together as a community work that’s serialized and available for free online.
  • Submissions and contests. Your writers will benefit from a structured guide on how to find the perfect place for their words, how to format manuscripts, and how to weather waiting times and rejection slips. They’ll also gain confidence boosts when they do place something.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo. November isn’t the only month! The Office of Letters and Lights offers two more programs, in April and July, with similar mechanics but looser, self-chosen guidelines for writers who work best under official word counts.

So no matter what time of year it is, keep the NaNoWriMo spirit and your patrons writing!

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