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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaNoWriMo and the Public Library: A Guest Post by Joy from Downers Grove Public Library

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.  Basically, NaNoWriMo is:
"a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. Here’s a little more about how it all works."
The NaNoWriMo organizers also have pep talks prepared by big name authors including James Paterson and Rainbow Rowell (whose novel Fangirl was a NaNoWriMo project) to help inspire the participants.

I have always thought that NaNoWriMo and public libraries seem like a nice pair [aspiring authors, and the librarians who could find them readers], but I have never really had time to organize something at the BPL. 

While at the ARRT Unconference last month, I met Joy.  Here is her bio in her own words:
Joy Matteson is an Adult and Teen Services Librarian at the Downers Grove [IL] Public Library. I'm obsessed with all things baking, stitching, and book related. I'm also a wedding violinist on the weekends with my identical twin sister who plays the cello, and I love meeting writers! Follow me @jmattes22 on Twitter.
Joy mentioned that Downers Grove was participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.  I asked her to write me a guest post later in the month to let all of us know how tit all went.  I was particularly interested in how she planned and scheduled these events.

Well, its now later in November and here is Joy with her guest post. If you have ever thought of hosting NaNoWriMo at your library, I think Joys post will inspire you to try it next year.  I am definitely considering it now.
When I was approached by my supervisor at the library about looking into the Downers Grove Library hosting some NaNoWriMo events, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Aren’t those some super ambitious writers who hole up and write novels together? And why would they want to talk with librarians? We don’t write or publish books! Then I remembered that writers and libraries have a long history together, especially in the Chicagoland area. So as a good little librarian, I decided to start with research.

As I was researching online, I was blown away by how many writers were listed in the NaNoWriMo Naperville chapter. Who knew how many dedicated writers are sitting all around us in the Chicagoland area in coffee shops and our libraries? I contacted Tim Yao at NaNoWriMo Naperville, and he immediately got back to me about Downers Grove Library partnering with NaNoWriMo writers. I was pleased to find that they even had a library kit they sent to me specifically for those who host NaNoWriMo write-ins. He recommended me to one of their Municipal Liaisons, Cassidy Turpin, who happily agreed to co-host the write-ins with me. I was amazed at how efficient everyone at the NaNoWriMo Naperville chapter were. Everyone seemed really excited to add the Downers Grove Library to their burgeoning library partnerships, it was almost too easy to set up all the programs!

Our PR coordinator at the library, Melissa Doornbos and I came up with a plan: why not look to see if we can do big library programs as well as write-ins for all the writers in the Downers Grove area? Many other libraries host write-ins, but why not add a few events for helping those same writers break down their writing barriers and explore their self-publishing options? We found a local writer, Kelly James Engers, who agreed to host our program entitled: How to Break Down Your Writing Barriers, which was very well received earlier in November. Our next program will be December 3rd, for all those who would like more information on Your Self-Publishing Options, the next step for those who completed NaNoWriMo.

All in all, I've been so impressed by everyone who volunteers and devotes time to NaNoWriMo. You writers all deserve medals just for how many word counts you all have finished this month! I can't wait to have you all back next year.

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