November is National Writing Month
"The world needs your novel." That’s the slogan of the organization behind National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo for short. The idea behind the November writing challenge, which began in 1999, is to encourage writers to forge ahead and write 50,000 words — no edits, no going back and making changes, just finishing that first draft. Park City Library is lending its support to Parkites this year by hosting group writing sessions as well as talks with two local authors. Adult Services Librarian Jessica Manis said the decision to get involved was an easy one.
"NaNoWriMo is an incredible way for libraries to participate in the creation of literature, not just the consumption of it," she said. "Reading and writing feed off of each other — great readers make for great writers, and equally, writers make for fantastic readers. Anything that this library can do to emphasize the whole reading/writing literacy cycle is our top priority."
Even though this is Park City Library’s first time participating, Manis said local writers know about it and they’re eager to get started.
"We’ve heard a lot of excitement about this event," she said. "We’ve had teens, published authors, and amateurs all wondering about our write-ins and author events. Two of our own library staff members are taking on the challenge this year."
Manis said NaNoWriMo is more than just a fun way for writers to socialize, and it’s no gimmick, either. She knows from experience.
"I think that it is an incredibly useful exercise," she said. "I’ve participated for the past five years (though I’ve only ‘won’ once). After the first time, I found that my ability to get words onto the page increased tenfold. All writing became easier, from writing research papers to firing off quick e-mails. Writing 1,667 words per day for a month straight helped me to strengthen that connection between thoughts and words."
Manis said Novel Writing Month’s focus on finishing a first draft is great, too, particularly for first-time writers.
"Not only will it help your daily writing practice, but the NaNo writing method also helps you turn off your ‘inner critic’ — the downfall of most writing aspirations," she said. "Instead of judging yourself before you even get the idea out, you learn to just let the ideas flow, knowing that you can fix any inconsistencies later.
"This ‘just get it out’ method isn’t unique to NaNo — Stephen King also advocates for it in ‘On Writing’ — but NaNo adds the motivation of competition. What better motivation is there than striving to beat friends, family members, and coworkers for a word count goal on social media?"
Manis said the library will hold weekly write-ins throughout November as well as two all-day marathons Nov. 7 and Nov. 14.
"We’ll also have a space set aside in the library where people can come in to write at any time," she said. "The table will be full of helpful NaNo tools: a bookmark of writing resources, a ‘plot bunny’ jar, and a few other inspirational games."
The Nov. 7 marathon will be kicked off by author Courtney Alameda, who will speak at 10 a.m. Then on Nov. 14, author Bobbie Pyron will speak at 10 a.m. and offer a few words of advice and encouragement.
"These writers are inspirational speakers who have actually survived the process of not only writing a book, but actually getting it published afterwards ," Manis said. "Which is really what every [writer] wants, whether they admit it to themselves or not."
Manis said the library staff is hoping NaNoWriMo will be a huge success in Park City and she encouraged anyone and everyone to come check it out.
"Anyone who needs a confidence boost, anyone who has something to prove," she said. "Anyone who loves books, or loves to critique them. Anyone who has ever thought ‘I wonder if I have a novel in me?’ Anyone who has a bucket list with the item ‘write novel’ laying in the bottom of a drawer. Teens, adults, kids, all are welcome!"
Park City Library is located at 1255 Park Ave. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit NaNoWriMo.org.
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