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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Holladay Library celebrates National Novel Writing Month

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Aspiring writer Brianna Hatcher works on NaNoWriMo writing challenge at Holladay Library. (Kaylee Smedley/City Journals)

By Kaylee Smedley | [email protected]    

Last month, people in Holladay (and from all over the world) connected with one another, and not just for No-Shave November. November is also celebrated as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Libraries and bookstores across the country, including the Holladay Library, hosted events throughout the month of November to support and promote this creative movement.

NaNoWriMo was originally launched by the National Novel Writing Month nonprofit organization, hoping to help and inspire anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Beginning each November 1, participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by the last day of November. These writers share input and tips with one another, as each individual works toward this goal.

Various libraries in Utah planned events throughout this past November centered on reading and writing, in support of NaNoWriMo. Holladay librarian Crystal Hanley organized a writer’s night every Thursday evening of November, after having seen success with a similar event while working at another location.

Hanley said, “You know, with things being online now, it’s a lot harder to find a way to get connected with your community, and this is a really nice way to meet other writers and creative people in the county.”

The Holladay Library provided a place for their community of writers to do just that. Thursday evenings, writers working on the NaNoWriMo challenge could meet in a meeting room to work, and to help one another. Snacks, writing prompts and other helpful materials were provided to aid writers in achieving this objective.

“The goal is 50,000 words — or more, of course — but 50,000 words in a month. And you can write about whatever you want. It’s just to promote creativity and community, and working with other people. I just love the whole concept,” said Hanley.

These writing nights and other events were held county-wide, and most branches participated. Holladay’s writing events were held on Thursdays, but writers could find some sort of NaNoWriMo activity being held each night at one of the library branches.

National Novel Writing Month isn’t just restricted to Salt Lake County, or even to Utah. It was started not only to help individual writers on their own novels and articles, but also to connect them with other writers both within and outside of the community. This creative movement has spread worldwide, especially through the use of social media, helping writers everywhere interact with one another.

The nonprofit NaNoWriMo foundation has a Facebook page, as well as other social media platforms, where writers can connect and interact over the course of the month of November. Aspiring writer Brianna Hatcher explained that on Twitter and other sites, writers participate in “sprints,” where they compete to see how many words they can write within a time limit.

“I’ve been able to connect with other writers on social media, like through the Facebook page or the ‘sprints.’ I’m a competitive person, so it’s helpful for when I get in a rut. And it’s nice because there are writers online that are in, like, Australia — they’re a whole day ahead of me!” said Hatcher.

Libraries and social media platforms aren’t the only places where writers connected for NaNoWriMo. Book stores, schools and coffee shops all over the United States and other countries hosted events and brought in authors and liaisons to support this cause during the month of November.

“There’s something so cool about people across the country all doing something at the same time to achieve a goal,” said Hanley, who participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge herself this year.

National Novel Writing Month is a great time for new writers to push themselves to complete a novel or work of writing. More than that, it provides an opportunity to learn from writers with more experience, and receive support during setbacks.

Hanley shared that one of her favorite parts about NaNoWriMo is that it teaches writers that they can take risks, and even start over again when needed. It saves writers from the fear of getting stuck in a rut, especially due to this large support system — a group of people, within the community and around the world, who are all working through the same challenge.