National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) is about to begin! Join us for write ins this November. Never heard of NaNoWriMo before? We’ll introduce you!

Write ins will include prompts, writing sprints, discussion, encouragement, and more.

Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library are hosting virtual writing sessions throughout the month of November. Attend any and all events that work for you! See our full schedule and register here.

NaNoWriMo Schedule
Kick-Off Party
Monday, 11/1, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/8, 7-9pm
Midway Party
Monday, 11/15, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/22, 7-9pm
Night of Drafting Daringly
Monday, 11/29, 7-9pm
Thank Goodness It’s Over Party
Monday, 12/6, 7-9pm

These are independent events managed by a community partner.
The NaNoWriMo name and logo are used by special permission.

National Novel Writing Month 101

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) is just around the corner! Have you ever had a story idea you thought would make a great novel? Always wanted to write a memoir about something that happened in your life? Just like to write?

Join us to learn more about getting those words out this November. We’ll go over what NaNoWriMo is, what it isn’t, and how it can help your creativity. Whether you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo before or have been a regular participant for the last 20 years, whether you want to handwrite or use all the latest software, this session is for you.

Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library are hosting virtual preparation sessions and virtual writing sessions throughout the months of October and November. Attend any and all events that work for you! See our full schedule and register here.

NaNoWriMo Schedule
NaNoWriMo 101 & Prep
Monday, 10/4, 6:30-7:30pm
Monday, 10/11, 7-9pm
Monday, 10/25, 6:30-7:30pm

Kick-Off Party
Monday, 11/1, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/8, 7-9pm
Midway Party
Monday, 11/15, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/22, 7-9pm
Night of Drafting Daringly
Monday, 11/29, 7-9pm
Thank Goodness It’s Over Party
Monday, 12/6, 7-9pm

These are independent events managed by a community partner.
The NaNoWriMo name and logo are used by special permission.

National Novel Writing Month 101

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) is just around the corner! Have you ever had a story idea you thought would make a great novel? Always wanted to write a memoir about something that happened in your life? Just like to write?

Join us to learn more about getting those words out this November. We’ll go over what NaNoWriMo is, what it isn’t, and how it can help your creativity. Whether you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo before or have been a regular participant for the last 20 years, whether you want to handwrite or use all the latest software, this session is for you.

Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library are hosting virtual preparation sessions and virtual writing sessions throughout the months of September, October, and November. Attend any and all events that work for you! See our full schedule and register here.

NaNoWriMo Schedule
NaNoWriMo 101 & Prep
Wednesday, 9/1, 3-4pm
Tuesday, 9/7, 10-11am
Monday, 9/13, 7-9pm
Monday, 10/4, 6:30-7:30pm
Monday, 10/11, 7-9pm
Monday, 10/25, 6:30-7:30pm

Kick-Off Party
Monday, 11/1, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/8, 7-9pm
Midway Party
Monday, 11/15, 7-9pm
Write In
Monday, 11/22, 7-9pm
Night of Drafting Daringly
Monday, 11/29, 7-9pm
Thank Goodness It’s Over Party
Monday, 12/6, 7-9pm

These are independent events managed by a community partner.
The NaNoWriMo name and logo are used by special permission.

National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Jill Weatherholt

Dreaming about writing a novel? NaNoWriMo is a great chance to get your book idea going. This month, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.


Jill Weatherholt

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Jill Weatherholt, whose Whispering Slopes series began as a NaNoWriMo challenge.

Thank you for joining us, Jill!

Can you tell us about the story you’re writing for NaNoWriMo 2020? The story I will be writing for NaNoWriMo 2020 is the last book in my Whispering Slopes series, the fictional town in the Shenandoah Valley. The hero, a well-known professional bull rider, is injured and returns to his childhood home to seek medical attention out of the spotlight. He’s unaware that his high school sweetheart, and the only woman he ever loved, has moved back to town and is working as a physical therapist. After this book, I plan to move my next series out West where my hero’s brothers currently live.

What is your favorite method of writing — pen and paper or the computer? Why? When I start a story, I like to write with my favorite Mont Blanc pen, given to me by my father. I also use a separate journal for each book. I use the journal to get to know my character’s backstory, their internal and external goals and the story’s setting. I’m not exactly sure why, but writing my ideas makes me feel closer to my characters. Once I have a solid idea and really know my characters, I move to the computer.

What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? I don’t snack while writing, but I do need water and plenty of caffeine. When I first started the Whispering Slopes series, I listened to a lot of John Denver. Now, when I get stuck, I’ll take a break and play one of his CDs. I also listen to a lot of The Carpenters. I know…corny, but their music is perfect for writing romance.

What was your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscript for publication? For me, NaNoWriMo is a time to get a fast, partial draft written. Since the 50k word requirement is less than a full-length novel, additional writing is required after I’ve completed the competition to get to THE END. After that, extensive editing is required before I submit for publication.

Do you have any advice for first time NaNoWriMo participants? Don’t fall behind in your word count. If you keep a steady pace of 1667 words a day, you’ll reach the 50K word goal. Since I work a full-time day job, I write additional words on the weekends and some weekday evenings. Just keep writing! It will be a mess, but that can all be fixed after November.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? Around 2008 or so, I became obsessed with reading authors’ websites. I loved to read their bios about how they got started writing, interviews, craft books that were helpful and about their writing process. I would even email authors after I’d finish reading their book to let them know how much I enjoyed it. It was always a thrill to receive a response. During that time, I think I stumbled across the website for NaNoWriMo. I participated for the first time in 2010. That story went on to become my first published book in 2017. I didn’t work on it all of those years. In fact, once I completed the 2010 competition, those 50k words sat on my hard drive untouched for many years, but the characters always stayed with me.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? I’m not a disciplined writer. I need deadlines. If I commit to something, I’ll do it, so NaNoWriMo is perfect for me. In the three times that I’ve participated in the contest, each book has gone on to become published. That’s my biggest motivation to continue to participate.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? I can’t say there is one author or book that has inspired me to write my stories. I’ve always used writing as a way to relax and ease my worries. In fact, the first short story I ever had published was written after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I remember after her appointment I sat down with a pen and tablet and wrote a story about a lighthouse keeper’s daughter whose father had Alzheimer’s. It was my way of processing what was happening to my family. There is inspiration all around us. We just need to pull away from our devices and take notice.


About Jill Weatherholt

By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness for Harlequin Love Inspired. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia. She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard.

Jill loves to connect with readers at JillWeatherholt.com.


About NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.


NaNoWriMo Programs and Links from Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch.

It’s not too late to get started with NaNoWriMo! Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.

Story Journaling

Hard copy journaling for narrative lovers.

So if any of you are like me, staring at a computer screen all day is both enlightening and exhausting.  While I love technology and the various opportunities it affords for learning, exploration, and entertainment, the blue light of the screen can do a number on my eyes and my head, often causing some major headaches.  This is why I have a whole bookshelf full of journals filled with handwritten stories dating all the way back to when I was in middle school.  Plus, there’s just something so satisfying about sprawling out on my bed, penning out scenes and character arcs and story ideas, and seeing my notebooks slowly fill up with my fictional worlds.

But story journaling doesn’t necessarily have to be fictional.  There are two types of story journaling.  First is fictional story journaling, where you use your journal as a space to plot out your fictional narratives, sketch out brain maps, scribble down quick thoughts and ideas, write out scenes and dialogue.  It’s an excellent way to get your thoughts on paper right in front of you, no matter how messy or disjointed your writing might be.  My favorite way to do this is to use pen – no erasing!  The most important part of the exercise is just to write something.  You can always edit later.  (Don’t have any story ideas right now?  Check out some of the links below for some inspiration!)

The other type of story journaling is life story journaling.  It’s very similar to regular journaling, where you write out your thoughts and feelings and events of the day, but with a key difference: the perspective.  When you sit down to write in your life story journal, you do so with the mindset of an author writing a story; but in this case, that story is about you.  Take a look at your day, and then think about how that day contributes to the story of your life as a whole.  Where are you in your dramatic structure diagram?  Are you in the rising action section, working towards a particular aspiration or mission?  Maybe you’re relaxing in the resolution section, after you’ve completed a major goal and enjoyed or suffered the consequences of it, and you’re preparing to begin the next stage in your life.  Wherever you are, this method of writing allows you to see yourself almost from the outside, to understand what has shaped you as a character in your own story and determine what will motivate you into a better future.


Resources & Inspiration:

Writing Tips for Tweens” from Penguin Young Readers

Creative Writing Journal Ideas” from Creative Writing Now

7 Quick Journaling Exercises That Will Improve Your Fiction Writing” from The Write Life

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website

Dream Journaling

What are your dreams telling you?

Have you ever woken up from an intense dream that felt so real that you were unsure if it actually happened or not at first? Or, maybe a specific person was in your dreams, and now they keep popping into your mind? Dreams are mysterious and sometimes intense, leaving lasting impressions on us. I find myself constantly having dreams that feel so real and powerful, yet I end up forgetting them almost completely not even 20 minutes later. I decided to start dream journaling to keep track of hidden meanings in my dreams and also to learn more about myself. 

A dream journal is a reflective way to keep track of your dreams. I keep my dream journal next to my bed so whenever I wake up from a dream-filled sleep, I can write it down on paper quickly before I start forgetting. Many believe that dreams are a manifestation of emotions that we carry with us throughout the day. If something is bothering you, even if it is pushed deep down into your subconscious, it can use dreams as a source of release. There are a lot of common dreams, like having your teeth fall out, feeling like you’re being chased, or moving in slow motion that can have deeper meanings attached to them. Things like stress, impatience, anxiety, conflict, or avoidance can be represented in the former dreams, and by documenting your dreams, you can reflect on things that may be bothering you in your real life. Dream journals can also help you if you are trying to learn how to lucid dream. Lucid dreaming occurs when a person is aware that they are dreaming and can control what they do and what happens within their dreams. According to Healthline, “When you write down your dreams, you’re forced to remember what happens during each dream. It’s said to help you recognize dreamsigns and enhance awareness of your dreams.” If you are interested in learning more about dream journaling, check out the resources below.


Resources & Inspiration:

How to Keep a Dream Journal: Tips, Examples, and Templates” from Penzu

Keeping a Dream Journal” from Psychology Today

The Best Way to Keep a Dream Journal” from Lucid Dream Society

5 Techniques to Try for Lucid Dreaming” from Healthline

Music Journaling

Genre-specific art journaling.

The hardest part about starting a journal is staring at a blank page and wondering how to fill it, so we’re here to help give you a little inspiration!  Last week, we talked about art journaling, so this week we bring to you an idea for a type of art journaling that many people follow: music journaling.

Music journaling is one of the easiest types of art journaling because there is so much visual content available out there for music lovers, from logos to album covers to merch to photographs to sheet music.  Think about what kind of music you like.  With classical music, there is tons of free sheet music that you could cut up and collage.  Or you could draw or paint creative representations of classical instruments.  With classic rock, there are album covers and funky fonts and splashes of dark or neon colors.

The big name in music journaling right now is K-Pop journaling.  K-Pop, or Korean Pop music, is music from South Korea that is currently sweeping across the United States, integrating itself into various aspects of online fandom culture as well as the more traditional media sources like television and radio, spearheaded in part by the massively popular group, BTS.  And fans of all ages have taken to expressing their love for this genre of music in many different ways, one of those ways being K-Pop journaling.  I have included a couple links below to videos of diarists creating K-Pop journals, but key features tend to be artist logos, photos of the artists, calligraphy, colorful stickers and decorations, and visual playlists of the artist’s songs as well as written memories from concerts attended.

So if you like art and music of any genre, try giving music journaling a go.

On a different note, if you like BTS, K-Pop, Korean Dramas, Korean culture, or any or all of the above, check out our new KClub!  We meet on Saturdays about once a month or so for two hours where we stream an episode of a K-Drama and then discuss and chat.


Resources & Inspiration:

16 Art Journal Prompt Ideas for Music Lovers” from ARTJOURNALIST

Starting a K-Pop Journal”, video by AmandaRachLee on YouTube

starting a new journal: my 6th kpop journal”, video by mihan. on YouTube

Art Journaling

For the diction disinclined.

Is writing just not for you, or is the thought of filling a page with just words and calendar spreads too daunting?  Try keeping an art journal instead.

An art journal is similar to a sketchbook, but different in its approach.  With an art journal, you want it to be a visual diary, a reflection of your life, your dreams, your feelings, your fears.  For example, you could include visuals of your hobbies or passions.  If you like gardening or plants, you can draw little representations of your plants, give them names, decorate with stickers.  Or maybe you had a really bad day, and you just want to splatter a couple of pages with some dark colors.  Whatever works for you, whatever allows you to unload, to relax, to express yourself, to reflect on your feelings or your life, is perfect for an art journal.

Another key difference between a sketchbook and an art journal is that you don’t have to be particularly artistically talented to keep an art journal.  While having a sketchbook means that you have to, well, sketch, an art journal can be anything you want it to be.  You can fill it with photos, polaroids, printed pictures, colorful washi tapes, aesthetic quotes, drawings and paintings and watercolors and sketches and scribbles – whatever suits your artistic fancy.  If you can’t draw, fill it with photos.  Print out titles in pretty fonts.  Line the borders of your pages with washi tape and stickers.  It’s up to you.  The journal is your canvas.At the end, you will have a visual record of your life.  But it also doesn’t need to be only visual.  If an entirely visual journal is just as daunting as an entirely written journal, combine them.  Write out something in the center and then draw or decorate in the margins.  Or draw and decorate the middle and then write in the margins.  Or mix it up throughout the entire page, turn the page on its side, write and draw on alternate pages, write something within your artwork. 

Just have fun with it.  Surprise yourself, and see what you can create.


Resources & Inspiration:

How to Combine Drawing and Writing into Deeply Personal Art Journals” from My Modern Met

How to Start an Art Journal” from Quiddity

Mindfulness Journaling

Get in touch with the present.

Thinking of ways to become more in touch with yourself during this quarantine? Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in the monotony of the “new normal” in quarantine, so some helpful and healthy mindfulness prompts can help bring to mind what made each day special. Mindfulness is about connecting the mind, soul, and body, so that you can be in the moment, rather than letting your thoughts drift off into anxious, dark places. By focusing on the present and bringing gratitude and gratefulness into each day, mindfulness can be extremely therapeutic. 

There are tons of mindfulness prompts that can be used while journaling that can help your juices start to flow. Many of these prompts ask questions like “What things am I most grateful for in my life,” “How am I impacting other people around me daily,” “Some areas that I’d like to improve in my life are…”. Clearly, a lot of these prompts dig into some areas that may not feel super comfortable, but by addressing them and putting them out on paper, they bring a sense of awareness and understanding. The thing that I like the most about mindfulness journaling is that it grounds me and helps me to understand myself better. If I am in a bad mood, sometimes mindfulness journaling can help me realize why I am feeling cranky, and it gives me the tools I need to improve my mood. 

If you are interested in diving deeper into the world of mindfulness journaling, there are many resources available online. My favorite mindfulness writer is Katie Dalebout, and I learn a lot about being mindful, grateful, and present through her podcast “Let it Out.” There are many mindfulness prompts available online as well, which can greatly help with starting the process.


Resources & Inspiration:

Katie Dalebout’s website

Why You Need a Mindful Journal Practice and Tips to Get You Started” from YogiApproved

10 Tips for Mindful Writing and Meditative Journaling” from DevelopGoodHabits

Mindful Journaling: 50 Unique Technique Topics and Writing Tips for Beginners” from Your Body The Temple

Special Edition: Quarantine Journaling

Journaling as a primary source document depicting turbulent times.

At this point in our journaling series, we’ve introduced the idea of journaling to your life and expounded upon its benefits as well as given you a couple ideas for formatting and content structure.  But some of you might be at a loss for what precisely to write about.

I was watching a webinar a few weeks ago that was talking about something totally unrelated.  It was a question and answer session with a group of authors of middle grade books.  One of the questions asked was something along the lines of “how will this time of quarantine and COVID-19 affect your writing?”  And one of the authors had an answer that honestly blew my mind a little bit.  She said that writing about this time was important, not just for authors like her, but for everyone, because those documents chronicling life during this period will someday become primary sources for students and historians in the future.

Maybe this is not as mind blowing for you as it was for me, but it’s a perspective that I never considered before, that we can actively become a part of history in this way just by writing down our experiences.  Historians are already beginning to compile primary source documents from regular people in order to gain a broader picture of what this time looks like in various parts of the world.  

Furthermore, we might feel like we’re stuck in this time of sickness and anxiety and isolation, but thinking about it in terms of history like this is, frankly, a little reassuring.  Humans have survived multiple pandemics before, just like we all learned as children in school; and while I don’t want to diminish the suffering and the death that many people are facing, and while we will certainly not come out of this unscathed, it is nevertheless comforting to know that we will be okay.

So if you’re looking for something to write about, write about your life.  Someday, your life will be important to many different people, and at the very least you’ll be able to look back and say, “I survived that.”


Resources & Inspiration:

The Quarantine Diaries” from The New York Times