November is known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, in the writing community. Each year, writers young and old are encouraged to start and complete the first draft of the novel that’s been in their head or in the corner of their laptop home screen. Last year, more than 400,000 people tried their hand at National Novel Writing Month, according to the NaNoWriMo website.
It can be hard to get started with writing a novel, and even harder to find the support needed to continue. NaNoWriMo attempts to counter this by connecting writers with other writers online, as well as in person. Though NaNoWriMo is just focused on the month of November, the Central Library offers a monthly writers’ workshop held year-round. On the first Monday of each month at 5:00 PM, librarians Katie Bliss and Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez lead a group of writers for about two hours as they share work and offer feedback for others. We had a chance to ask Bliss a few questions about the Writers’ Workshop so others can learn more about this great opportunity.
Q: What is the atmosphere like at the Writers’ Workshop?
A: The Writers’ Workshop at DMPL is very casual, friendly, and supportive. We have a pretty committed group of about 8-10 people who almost always show up and then another 2-4 people who frequently join us. Our total each month is usually about 12. The week before our next meeting, I send out a reminder to everyone who’s given us their email address. If anyone is interested in sharing their work, I ask that they email it to me so I can make enough copies for everyone. The night of the program, the writers take turns reading their work aloud and receiving feedback.
Q: What kind of pieces are people bringing to the Workshop?
A: There’s a fairly good variety of material that people bring to the Workshop, but primarily it tends to be short fiction or poetry. We’ve also seen longer fiction (of various genres), memoir, nonfiction, editorial or persuasive writing, and business writing.
Q: What resources are available for people that have a short story or novel idea that they have been itching to get out?
Apart from our own Writers’ Workshop, there are a number of other writing groups in the area, which are great for getting feedback and encouragement. There are also countless online writing courses that can delve deeper into specific aspects or genres of writing. And of course, the library has scores of books to help people work through the process of writing, from the initial idea to publishing.
Anyone is welcome to take part in our our monthly Writers’ Workshop at the Central Library. Writers meet at 5:00 PM on the first Monday of the month in the meeting room wing. If that day happens to fall on a holiday, the Workshop will be held the next day. The next meeting of the Writers' Workshop is on Monday, December 2.
As Bliss said, the library also offers tons of books about writing for you to borrow. We’ve included a short list below, but it is definitely not comprehensive. If you’re beginning your writing adventure, ask your librarian to show you where to find these and other books on our shelves.
- The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
- Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
- The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr.
- Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, by Susan Wooldridge
Last Modified May 31, 2020