October 2009, Volume 1, Issue 10
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YARP Voting Begins
Teen Read Week
National Friends of Libraries Week
National Novel Writing Month
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To WriMo or not to WriMo: November is National Novel Writing Month
by Stacia McGourty
It’s fall. For some it’s a time when the leaves gently fall from the trees. It’s afternoons spent raking, creating neat piles ready to be bagged, only to have some person decide to relive their youth and start jumping.
For others it’s a time of preparation. Get the emergency snow kit back in the car, get out the winter wardrobe, start planning Halloween festivities and what to make for Thanksgiving. Some are even starting their holiday shopping frenzy. (If you are one of those people, keep it to yourself.)
For a third group, fall means it’s time to plot out murder and mayhem, create worlds unknown, and explore the depths of the human condition. Large groups of people will face the blank page, the blinking cursor if you will, and go on to create something. It’s time for National Novel Writing Month.
The rules are simple. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words. You can write in any genre. Past participants have written novels in verse, meta-fiction and fan-fiction.
It sounds crazy right? After all, how good could a novel written in 30 days be? Participants sacrifice quality for quantity. At the end of November it’s not expected that you’ve written great literature or something that is publisher ready. It’s not even expected that you’ve actually finished your novel - after all 175 pages is pretty short for a book. The only expectation is that you have written. Rewriting, revising, reviewing and reworking can all come later.
So, why would you want to spend all of November writing, when you know deep in your heart what you are writing should never see the light of day? Most of us, especially those of us that are dedicated readers, have often felt that we have a book in us. However, for one reason or another, it never gets written. We spend time at our jobs and with our families. Actually sitting down and writing a book falls lower and lower on our list of priorities. In other cases, when you actually do sit down and write, you get plagued with feelings of inadequacy. You analyze every sentence, deleting what is not immediately perfect. With NaNoWriMo, you are given a deadline and a goal - 50,000 words in 30 days. You simply don’t have time to work towards perfection; your only goal is to get words on the page.
Having a goal and a deadline is great, but that’s not all you need to get the job done. Motivation is key and the NaNoWriMo program has several built in motivators. The first is the online community. Simply knowing that you aren’t in this alone can keep you going. The NaNoWriMo Web site has discussion groups and forums set up for the discussion of character names, plot points and everything in between. There are the regional forums where you can meet, socialize and discuss the writing process with others from your area. There are forums separated by age so you can discuss those same things with people of your own generation.
The NaNoWriMo staff also tries to recruit volunteers to act as municipal liaisons. These are people that have already participated, and won NaNoWriMo. They are the cheerleaders for your area. They may set up events such as kick-off parties, write-ins, organize writing groups, and once it’s all over, they’ll set up the TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) Party. They are also your local go-to person for any questions you might have about NaNoWriMo.
The staff has also set up twice weekly pep talks disseminated through your e-mail. This year you can expect to hear from such authors as Gail Carson Levine, Jasper Fforde, and Tamora Pierce.
National Novel Writing Month was originally conceived for adults, but there is a Young Writer’s Program that is run concurrently. While those 13 and older are welcome to participate in NaNoWriMo, and be held to the 50,000 word goal, the Young Writer’s Program is run with students in grades K-12 in mind. Students are able to set their own word goals and educators can register as a class.
This year Dayna Winter of Huron Middle School has decided to make NaNoWriMo available as an after-school activity. As an instructor for the Huron Middle School After School Program, she knows that children are natural story tellers.
Dayna first heard about the program in a September issue of School Library Journal. After discussing the program with other staff members and administration, they decided to go for it!
Huron Middle School will be providing computer time before and after school, an after school snack, and a notebook for any person that doesn’t have computer access at home. Dayna will be arranging a kick-off party to start things off. We’ll be checking back in December to see how things went.
Other libraries have participated in NaNoWriMo as well. The Office of Letters and Lights, the non-profit group that runs NaNoWriMo has created a library resource kit that includes ideas for participation and testimonials from other libraries. The resource kit can be found at Come Write In: Libraries.
If you would like more information about National Novel Writing Month, or if you would like to participate you can visit the Web site at NaNoWriMo.org.
Oh, and remember how I said that publication was not an expected outcome of NaNoWriMo novels? While it’s not expected, it does happen. A list of books that started out as NaNoWriMo projects can be found at NaNoWriMo FAQ.