NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019: TPL partnership

*This is an independent event managed by a community partner. The NaNoWriMo name and logo are used by special permission.

The library is excited to be partnering with NaNoWriMo this November. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where writers from all around the world come together and write their stories, aiming for 50,000 words during the month of November.

Those interested in participating are welcome to join us on Saturday, November 2 at 10 for our Kick-Off Party.

We are also offering weekly Come Write In Sessions, providing writers with a space to work and communicate with others.
Come Write In: Wednesdays, 11/6, 11/13 & 11/20 & Monday, 11/25, 6 – 8:30 pm

Celebrate your progress with our Midway Party on Thursday, November 14, from 1 – 3:30 pm

Finally, we want to celebrate your achievement with our Afternoon of Authoring Alarmingly, a final sprint to get those 50,000 words on Saturday, November 30 from 3 – 5 pm.

An interview with 3 NaNoWriMo Participants

Three of our staff members are participating in NaNo this year and took some time to answer some questions about their process & the writing experience. Thanks to Sam Bardarik (SB), Zoey Mills (ZM), and Kate Shaw (KS).

Tell us about the story you’re writing for 2019 NaNoWriMo:

SB: I’m going to write about characters in a sci-fi setting I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. Over that time they’ve grown up and been through a lot in my head. I’m a resolute pantser*, so my strategy is to write the big scenes I know I want to happen and hope a cohesive plot shows up. (It usually does!)

ZM: As of October 30th, I’m torn between two project ideas. The first is a story about a young woman trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, but there will be some added supernatural twists. A big part of this idea revolves around interviews of secondary characters, where they speak about my primary character. I’m setting the reader up to immediately know what happens in the end, but not how it happens. How it happens will slowly unfold as the story progresses. I was inspired to do this after reading Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello. The primary character’s story is told entirely through the point of view or perception of the secondary characters. Coelho executed this idea phenomenally, and I recommend checking out the book.

My second project idea is inspired by Amazon Prime’s Modern Love (after I guiltily binge watched it all in one day). I loved how the show explored different types of love and the different ways in which we experience love. A few characters suddenly popped into my head and I can easily see their stories unwinding before me.

I’m not sure which story I’ll write yet, but regardless, I’m excited about both!

KS: Your guess is as good as mine. It’s going to be either a young adult thriller (an idea that’s been kicking around my head for the last several years) or a contemporary romance idea that just occurred to me this week. Reading Zoey’s first idea makes me laugh about my young adult thriller, because my intention is to start with the murder of a student and have the following chapters be other characters reflecting on the murder victim & aftermath.

To be honest, I’ll probably cry and change my mind several times over the first week when I get stuck on one or the other.

What is your favorite method of writing — pen and paper or the computer? Why?

SB: Definitely on the computer. It’s less painful than writing by hand for me, I can get the words out faster, and it saves time from having to type up everything later.

ZM: I do a majority of writing on the computer. I also spend A LOT of my time writing notes and ideas in my phone’s notes app. I often get inspired at the most inopportune times, like when driving or taking a shower, and my notes app definitely helps with remembering those inspirations!

KS: These days I write on the computer. I finished my first novel with an ink well and fountain pen, but that was insane. I like to keep several files open while I write so I can check myself as I go. Like Sam, I’m a pantser, so my outlines happen while I’m writing. I like to keep track of character traits and other plot notes while I’m working.


What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)

Sam’s bulletin board with NaNoWriMo memorabilia

SB: I like to make a hot beverage like tea or sugar-free cocoa (which goes cold when I inevitably forget about it). To provide visual motivation and create the right atmosphere, the wall next to my desk is full of NaNo posters and a corkboard with NaNo stickers and other goodies I’ve collected over the years. I focus best with instrumental music on in the background, or more often, ambient sounds that recreate coffee shops or other settings. My go-to website is Ambient Mixer. It has tons of options, including a tool to create your own perfect mix of mood-setting background noise.

ZM: I’m a big playlist maker. I make playlists for my ideas and also for each individual character. Music can be a big part of anyone’s life, and I like to put on music I think that character might enjoy when I’m writing. It helps me get into their headspace, to feel what they’re feeling, and think what they’re thinking. A favorite “snack” would have to be a nice cup of tea that’s gone cold. When I was in college, my mom told me she knew it was finals time when I would come up to re-heat my cup of tea every 2 hours or so. I was often too busy writing or studying to actually drink my tea!

I also can’t write at home— I get too distracted! I’ll be spending A LOT of time at the local Starbucks, and of course, at the library to write my novel!

KS: I don’t necessary have a ritual. I’m a big tea drinker so that is a big part of my daily ritual. Like my friends, the tea is often left until cold. I only listen to instrumental music while I write, because I’m one of those people who tend to start typing the words I’m hearing if the music has words. Tchaikovsky is my favorite. Otherwise, I love the sound of rain, so I have a white noise app that soothes me with a storm.

Up to this year, I’ve only ever written at home, but I’m looking forward to trying to see how being at the library will add (or detract) from my productivity.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo?

SB: It’s been so long, I can’t remember exactly how I heard about NaNo. I’ve always loved to write and still have my stories and poems from when I was a kid, so I must have picked up on NaNo through related connections. I’ve been participating since 2009 and have “won” by reaching 50k words four times. Here’s to a fifth win this year!

ZM: I first heard about NaNoWriMo back during my undergrad years. I attempted to do NaNo in, maybe, 2012, but I wound up abandoning the project pretty early because of midterms. I’ve been too busy to participate every year since. This is my first “official” attempt at NaNoWriMo. I’m both nervous and excited!

KS: I’ve been aware of NaNoWriMo for many years now and would often talk to friends (my incredibly talented brother among them) about their own progress. One of our former librarians at TPL gave me her NaNo book for Christmas one year and I loved that idea.

Last year was the first year that I decided to try my hand at participating myself. It was a story that I had copious notes and research compiled on, but had never gotten around to putting down. I love having friends (my brother especially) that I can “compete” with during the month. Last year I had 63,000 words at the end of November, but I’m not confident that I’ll get there this year. It’ll be fun, no matter what.

Do you have any advice for first time NaNoWriMo participants?

SB: Let your family and friends know what you’ll be doing in November so they don’t get too concerned about your disappearance. Prepare and freeze meals in advance. Make it clear to household members that you’ll make up for missed chores and child-rearing duties in December. Hoard leftover Halloween candy for your reward system. Most importantly, take advantage of every break you get to write, even if it’s only 5 minutes.

One reminder that floats around a lot is that NaNo is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s hard, time-consuming work to write 1,667 words a day for 30 days in a row. The first week is the most crucial: if you can meet the word count (or exceed it!) the first week, you’re far more likely to reach the 50k total for the month.

But if 50k seems impossible for you, don’t stress about it. Set your own goal, whether it’s 10k total words, or 500 words a day, or to build a habit of writing every day regardless of word count. Any words you get out in November are more than what you had on October 31, and that’s something to be proud of!

ZM: I don’t have any personal advice to offer as I’m also a “first time” participant. But I recently came across a blog post written by author Rosaria Munda (here’s a link for your reading pleasure: where she discussed how much of her published work, Fireborne, has changed since her first draft. Spoiler: less than 10% of her original draft remains in the published work.  I want to keep this stat in mind when writing. I’m writing to write, not to publish. I’ll have plenty of time to revise once December rolls around! I know this is going to be a challenge for me because I love revising and proof reading.

I also think Sam’s advice about remembering that whether you reach the 50k goal or bang out a mere 10k, it is more than you had going into November. That should be something that can speak for itself. I’ve got a busy November coming up and I promise to not be so hard on myself if I can’t crank out the 50k in a month. My only goal is write something, anything, each day in November.

KS: Have fun! NaNo helps you explore your creativity, so be okay if your story doesn’t seem to pan out the way you thought it would. Last year (and I expect this year) I swapped stories once or twice until I got into my groove. I agonized over my word count, which was actually counterproductive. Be sure you’re writing something you would want to read, because editing is going to be mighty difficult if you hate your own story.

Some days are going to be hard. Be okay spending a day rereading or making notes. I also get so bogged down trying to write linearly that I write myself into a corner. It’s totally okay to bounce around in your story, just be sure that you know which areas you want to come back to look at later. When I was starting to edit my work from last year, I was surprised to remember that I’d skipped a huge chunk of pretty important plot.


What authors or books have inspired you to write your own story?

SB: I’ve always been inspired by the power of fairy tales and myths. They’ve often been retold in so many ways for so many audiences. Retellings have elements that feel familiar but also bring their own perspectives. They make me ask myself what I want to say with my stories.

ZM: A lot of my favorite authors have inspired me to write my own story. Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Raven Cycle series, is probably the top author that has inspired me. During an interview, Stiefvater has said that what inspires her to write is to create the stories or books that she has always wanted to read but couldn’t find on the shelf—I could not agree more with this idea. Other authors that inspire me would be Arundhati Roy, Sylvia Plath, Shirley Jackson, and Nina LaCour.

KS: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a wee thing. My dad was a great storyteller and I always had a very active imagination. There was never a time that I remember not wanting to pursue creative writing. As far as inspiration goes, I’ll admit that the writers I love actually tend not to inspire me as I am very susceptible to self-doubt and impostor syndrome.

I definitely remember reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and being speechless about a turn of phrase she used that had such stunning imagery that I wanted to burn everything I’ve ever written. My aforementioned brother is also one of my favorite writers. His style and voice is so strong and he inspires and encourages me all the time. Thanks, Michael!

*panster: a writer who opens a blank document and starts from scratch with very little to no outlining or other planning