November is generally thought of (in the United States, at any rate) as the month of Thanksgiving, as well as the beginning of the chaos that we call “The Holiday Season.” In recent years, though, it has also been celebrated by authors and aspiring writers nationwide! November is officially known as National Life Writing Month, National Family Literacy Month, and our personal favorite: National Novel Writing Month.
You may be wondering whether this is just another random monthly observance that nobody really pays attention to … and that is a legitimate question. After all, November is also designated as “National Pepper Month” and “Banana Pudding Lovers Month”, and — unless I’ve simply missed the memo — I haven’t seen too many people passionately celebrating these campaigns. However, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, if you’re in the know) was established nearly two decades ago and continues to gain steam each year, with over 350,000 people predicted to participate in 2017.
So, what is it? NaNoWriMo is something of a writing marathon in which aspiring writers are challenged to complete a 50,000-word novel over the course of 30 days. While the endgame is the same for everyone, the reason for participating varies; for some, this is a great opportunity to stretch their creative muscles and get back into the writing game. Other writers take part with the hope of publishing their work. Considering the fact that at least 80 novels that began as NaNoWriMo projects have been published by the “Big 5” book publishers (including Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl”), it seems that no goal is too great!
One of the best things about NaNoWriMo, and one of the reasons why it continues to be so successful, is the sense of community and support that comes along with it. NaNoWriMo actually became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit back in 2005, and their website (www.nanowrimo.org) offers a ton of support and resources to participants. By creating a free account, you can take part in online forum discussions, find writing buddies, and stay on-track and motivated with tools such as Badges, the Goal Tracker, and “Word Sprint” timers. It’s a great way to take the leap from “I want to write a book someday” to “I’m writing a novel.”
As always, the library has a number of resources to help you on your quest. On Saturdays we will have tables in the Reference Department reserved for NaNoWriMo participants where you can plug in your laptop/device, brainstorm, and connect with other writers. We also have a number of great books that can help inspire you, whether that be a simple guide to writing, or a well-worn copy of Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet.”
So, let’s get started! We’re almost a week into the month, but it’s not too late to “Come Write In” with NaNoWriMo!
Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.