MUSCATINE — Upstairs in one of Musser Library's reading rooms, for the next two weeks one might find writers frantically punching out as many words as they can.
It's National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo so many of these participating writers are working to make it to the finish: 50,000 words.
"It happens every month in November," said Kimberly McCracken, head of adult programming at Musser. "It's time for authors and people who don't consider themselves authors yet but maybe want to be. It's a month where they just sit and try to write 50,000 words, and its daunting and those who make it, more power to them because I never have."
McCracken has set up a write-in group that meets during the week to shop ideas and better each others prose.
"The whole point of having NaNoWriMo is to have that support and to have someone — not forcing you — but you have that date that you need to write this by and you know you can't procrastinate," McCracken said. "You can't not write. So it's just a way to make you move forward in a faster pace than you would normally."
Though she said that she is shooting through words to win NaNoWriMo, Teresa Phillips comes to the write-ins. She is collaborating with her grandson on a fantasy novel.
"We started with writing back and forth," Phillips said. "I'd write to him and say, 'What do you think of this idea?' And he would write back. I kept up the mail aspect of it. That went on for a while. He came up with the entire plot and all the twists and turns. It was great."
Phillips said the feedback from the write-ins is key for her process.
"Sometimes you are going along and you think you are headed in the right direction, but you already know what the story is so you leave something out," Phillips said. "Sometimes when you are trying to relate the story, you are leaving things out. When sharing with a group you get the feedback: 'Well who is this guy?' and 'What happened between here and here?'"
McCracken said that even for those who might prefer their solitude, they, too, can find a writing community online.
"It's a way to gain community," McCracken said. "It brings writers together. Even if you don't come to write-in sessions, online you can have writing buddies. They give you motivational support through the whole month."
For those who complete the daunting word count in November, Musser is offering Self-E, a self-publishing service to so they have something to show at the end of the month.
"So after they've put all this hard work into this novel, they can actually get it out there," McCracken said. "They can let our patrons read it. They aren't just spending all this time — all this stress for nothing. You do get that kind of triumph."