Teens: How to Write a Novel in a Month, the KC Library Way

Every November, amateur novelists around the world put their word processors where their mouths are in daring attempts to spit out 50,000-word tomes in a mere 30 days.

This year, a hearty group of Central teens led by Youth Services Associate Wick Thomas joined the ranks of flash novelists to take up the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

"NaNoWriMo," as it's known for short, began in San Francisco in 1999. Thanks to its founders' Internet savvy, it has spread to a worldwide phenomenon, with major literary blogs such as GalleyCat providing daily coverage. This year, NaNoWriMo organizers tallied a collective word count of 3,074,772,767.

Contributing 138,000 of those words: Wick's teens.

"I didn't know the teens would be so excited to participate," Wick says.

Wick found helpful support in NaNoWriMo's resources for young writers, including a free "Triumphant Chart of Noveling Progress," on which teens could write their names and track their progress.

Teens tracked their word counts on The Triumphant Chart of Noveling Progress.

Though NaNoWriMo rules allow kid participants to set their own goals, a few of Wick's teens aimed for the skies. Teens gathered on Sundays in November to write on laptops in Central's teen area. About half of the 19 teens who signed up reached their goals, which ranged from as low as 200 all the way up to the maximum.

Despite hitting 50,000 words on his own last year, Library teen Jacob fell short this year at a nonetheless impressive 20,000 words.

"The hardest part is sitting down every day and getting your daily goal written," Jacob said. "You have to keep at it."

One teen, Alex, completed the challenge to become the Library's newest novelist-in-residence.

"Who knows – maybe we've got the next best young adult novelist right here in KC," Wick says.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library. He has been tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, and YouTubing for the Library since 2010.