Write a Novel in a Month: NaNoWriMo at Your Library

28 Nov

image promoting National Novel Writing Month 2010November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a time when determined people all around the globe dedicate their hearts, souls, and meagre personal time into writing 50,000 words in just 30 days. Despite proclaiming itself “national,” the challenge is actually open to anyone anywhere during the month of November.

Now that November is nearly over, it’s time to think about November 2011: an excellent though perhaps daunting opportunity for your local teens to accept the 50,000 word challenge. Sound tough? The good news is that NaNoWriMo requires minimum supervision. The bad news? It demands plenty of encouragement and lots of snacks.

Many teens relish the challenge and the opportunity to write freely with others, but without having to share their work or censor their ideas. A 50,000 word draft also serves as inspiration (“If I can write this, what else can I accomplish?”). The motivation of snacks, games, adult and peer support don’t hurt, either.

NaNoWriMo is keen on libraries promoting their (completely free) writing challenge. Toward this end they’ve produced a guide for libraries called Come Write In, which explains the basics of NaNoWriMo and suggests ways that libraries can get involved. They may even send you a free pack of promotional materials.

NaNoWriMo at Your Library

To run NaNoWriMo at your library, you need to provide:
+a comfortable place for young people to write uninterrupted
+sufficient quantities of writing materials (computers, pens/pencils and paper)
+plenty of promotion in late September and all of October
+early staff notification when and where all NaNoWriMo-related meets and events will occur.

To make NaNoWriMo a real success at your library, I also recommend:
+staff and/or teen planning of events/programmes based around NaNoWriMo such as writing challenges, games, and opening/closing celebrations
+snacks and drinks available during established novel-writing times
+weekly pep talks.

The benefits of holding NaNoWriMo in your public or school library? Knowing that you’ve encouraged teen literacy (reading and writing), supported writing for pleasure as a hobby, provided teens have the opportunity to make new friends, helped give them confidence in self-expression, and positively raises the profile of the library.

If you just can’t wait for November 2011, plan events in April for National Poetry Writing Month or Script Frenzy.

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