NanoWrimo in Montclair

In partnership with the writers’ support group The Write Group, the library will host a series of events:

• 11/30 – Converting Your
Manuscript to an eBook, with Hank Quense – 7-9 p.m.

In addition, the library is opening its café space to authors every Tuesday in November from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit, or call 973-744-0500, ext. 2235.

For more information on NaNoWriMo and to register, visit


You still have nearly two weeks to win NaNoWriMo.

What do you get if you win?

You get to say you’ve won NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, takes place in November, and challenges writers to complete 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Even if you don’t “win,” the practice of writing every day itself is a win, said Kyrce Swenson at  the “Strategies and Writing Exercises” session for NaNoWriMo writers held at the Library on Thursday, Nov. 2. The event was sponsored by the Write Group, a writers’ support group that meets at the library. For more information about the organization, visit

About 21 people sat at tables in the library as Swenson went through a list of tips to make the month productive. More people came in as she spoke, with some people standing or leaning against the walls.

The Write Group has a brick outside the Montclair Public Library. GWEN OREL/STAFF
The Write Group has a brick outside the Montclair Public Library. GWEN OREL/STAFF

The library is also a NaNoWriMo Come Write In site, a program that connects libraries, bookstores and other spaces with Wrimos (as writers are called) and offers them space to write.

To join NaNoWriMo, visit and register. At the end of the month, novelists input their work online, which the site then scrambles. If the words hit 50,00, you’re a winner.

Some of the attendees were NaNoWriMo veterans. Some were published author’s, like Debra Galant. Galant said she came because it’s been about 10 years since she published a novel. Galant said she signed up once for NaNoWriMo, but didn’t do anything: “I tend to discourage myself really quickly in the process.”

Patricia Conover, who is new to town, has a project that has been on hold. “I thought this might kick start it,” Conover said.

Shame is a strategy

Swenson suggested making a strategy so that NaNoWriMo is “on autopilot as much as possible.”

“Make writing your normal activity,” she said. “Get out of your own way. It’s like flossing teeth, I spend more time thinking about flossing than it actually takes to do it.”

Some writers work from an outline, while others are called “pantsers,” who work by the seat of their pants. Baty wrote a book titled “No Plot? No Problem!”

One strategy to get moving is to “use shame for your own good,” she said. “Tell lots of people you are doing this. Make it too embarrassing to quit.”

The idea of writing a novel in 30 days is daunting, but clearly appealing, too. Since it was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, NaNoWrimo has grown enormously. Then, just 21 “Wrimos” took part, according to Wikipedia, which also states that nearly 400 NaNoWriMo novels have been published in traditional presses since 2006, including “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill;  “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, published by Doubleday; and “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, published by St. Martin’s Press.

For plotters, Swenson suggested breaking away from an outline from time to time. For pantsers, she said to remember that outlining is not a dirty word. You don’t always have to write in a linear fashion, she said.

She herself is a pantser, she said in an interview after the presentation.

If you hit writer’s block, writing exercises are a good way to get out of them. she said.

During the presentation, she had everyone write for a few minutes just about their day, then, write a description of a place in their novel.

She suggests making a playlist of “noveling music.”

Carl Selinger, of The Write Group, said, “I wrote my book to an Andrea Bocelli CD. When I was close to finishing it, it fell


behind the credenza. ‘OK, I’m done.’”

And, Swenson told the audience, it’s OK if you miss a day. Some days she writes just 350 words. Last year she was 15,000 words down just five days before the end. She thought, “I’ve done a presentation! I can’t not do this!”

She advised the audience that weeks two and three are hard, and “this is also the part where you hate what you’re writing.” Writer’s block can mean something is wrong: “did you write yourself into a corner? Are you just plain sick of your story?

“Does your chair make your butt hurt?”

She suggested making changes, such as skipping to a different part in the story. “Raymond Chandler famously said that whenever he gets stuck, somebody gets shot.”

Ultimately, she said, “persistence is useful. Show up. Keep writing.

“Reduce your expected daily word count.

“When all else fails, doughnuts!”

Don’t diet during NaNoWriMo, she said. “Bribe yourself with the future.”