National Novel Writing Month, or; Low Hanging Programming Fruit for Libraries


A couple years ago, I was a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the original month-long writing challenge. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days for the month of November. These participants spend a lot of time by themselves in front of their computers and sometimes they just need to get out and be glued to their screens w ith others in the struggle.

The municipal liaison is responsible for coordinating events for their region. We are a sparsely populated state, so by national standards we are considered one region. However, as we all know, VT is 3-6 regions depending on who you ask. Municipal liaisons tend to be in or near Chittenden County, where the bulk of participants usually are, and as such have a difficult time finding or suggesting places for write-ins and kick-off/thank-goodness-it’s-over parties outside of Burlington. Every year there are woeful cries of “is anyone writing in [my town] or [my school]?!?!” There are a lot of young folks who participate, so finding places that are all ages can be a real challenge.

This is where you come in! Participants don’t often think to ask libraries or are afraid they’ll be turned down despite the fact that NaNoWriMo encourages participants to write-in at libraries. A typical write-in involves folks quietly typing away on their laptops punctuated by periods of delirious chattering. They need tables and chairs, access to outlets, free wifi, and the freedom to drink caffeinated beverages and leftover halloween candy.

Most of all, they just need to be invited. Think about reaching out to the Vermont community, or VerWriMos, and offer your library for write-ins! VerWriMos can be reached by signing up for a login on the Nano site and subscribing to the Vermont Regional forum. You will see all the activity happening statewide and be able to offer your services. Official forums are the primary way that participants communicate.

If you don’t want to join, you can always shoot a message to Kevin McLaughlin, the Vermont municipal liaison, and he’ll post your offer of space. You can also pop on the VerWriMos Facebook page. The national organization will happily work with you to enrich the Nano experience at your library! Check out their Library Outreach Guide.

Are you thinking about joining in the crazy-pants writing fun? Do it! I’m taking a break this year, but I can’t recommend it enough for folks who a) need an impetus to get writing and/or b ) just enjoy embarking on wild journeys. Maybe novel writing isn’t your thing (it isn’t mine, I always disregarded the word Novel and replaced it with Non-Fiction, which is evidently a widely recognized rebellion). Many other challenges have been born of NaNoWriMo, and they aren’t all about writing. I’m considering a couple that aren’t even on the list, including Digital Writing Month (DigiWriMo) and Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo). Pick your poison.

Helen Linda
VLA News Editor/Editorial Committee Chair
NETSL President
Eliot D. Pratt Library, Goddard College

Originally published in VLA News – November 2012