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National effort is a novel approach to writing

November is National Novel Writing Month, bringing sense of community and discipline


A frustrated writer with a book in mind, Sherry Duff kept getting into lulls on her progress.

“I was inspired at first. Then you get this lull because real life happened,” Duff said. “In the lull, I let everything else get in the way of my writing.”

Then, in November 2015, she heard about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and decided to participate.

Today, the Parker resident is a published author, the writer of “Rule #9,” a story about blended families. She’s also the vice president of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers group.

Writing needs to be given an important place in your daily life, she said.

“You have to decide how important to make it,” Duff said. “If I really want to be a writer, I have to make it important. It takes 30 days to make a habit and you’ve got 30 days of creating a habit of ‘I’m going to write every day.’ I’ve got the whole month of November to help me form a good habit.”

NaNoWriMo, as it’s been nicknamed, is a worldwide approach to creative writing. As the official nanowrimo.org website states, participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

According to the website, NaNoWriMo provides the structure, community and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals and build new worlds — on and off the page.

“I did it to get my butt in the seat and as a bonding thing with my niece because it was something she could participate in,” said Duff.

The movement started in 1999 and National Novel Writing Month became a full-fledged nonprofit in 2005.

Per the website, the goal is to write a novel and track your progress, getting pep talks and support and meeting fellow writers online and in person. Worldwide word counts are tracked on the nanowrimo.org website.

Last year, 384,126 participants, including 71,229 students and educators, participated. Of these, more than 34,000 met the goal of writing 50,000 words. This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 participants. As a nationwide event, many local groups are participating by creating their own events to inspire local writers of all ages.

Anythink Libraries has planned a variety of NaNoWriMo events at their Brighton location.

Jonah Vallez, teen librarian for Brighton’s Anythink, said library staff saw the need among their patrons.

“We could hear people saying they were working on books and screenplays,” Vallez said. “We recognized we have writers in the community who need our services. It’s more of a community thing than just a simple writing program. It really got us excited for what an opportunity this could be.”

The library has devoted eight sessions in November to novel writing tips.

“We’ve adapted two of our nights (each week) to NaNoWriMo-dedicated nights,” Vallez said. “We’re very excited. I’m the more excitable one because I tend to think this will be fantastic. We are encouraging our staff to participate and write, as well.”

The support makes the act of writing less daunting, Vallez said.

“It’s important because I feel like there are opportunities for the writers in Brighton to have a platform in the community,” Vallez said. “One thing that’s a huge component is it’s a demystification of writing a book. There’s a process to it and anyone can do it. Giving everyone that opportunity feels really good and it’s important it all of us.”

The library looked for the best tips for stuck writers and built their seminars around them.

“We brainstormed the essentials to get a book done and then created a list of what would be fun to take you to the next steps on your book or story idea,” Vallez said.

Duff said the daily effort to keep up was her best motivator.

“For me, it’s that word count goal,” Duff said. “It’s that goal that is a deadline. If I have a deadline, I move. The hard part about writing is that if it’s not about work, it’s not important.”

No matter what, just writing is what matters.

“Just do it. Put your butt in the seat and write,” Duff said. “Put your fingers on the keyboard and write. Just write. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just write. It’s a first draft book. You’ve got to start somewhere. Write from your heart. Surround yourself with writers. NaNo is a great place to start if you haven’t written yet.”


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