A novel approach: Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy plans to aid writers throughout November


NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a time when people across the nation are encouraged to try to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy, a mini library on the second level of the Nickel Plate Arts’ Stephenson house, plans to provide writers a place to work during the month, whether in person or virtually.

Executive Director Leah Leach has participated in NaNoWriMo for several years and is planning to write.

“I wanted to do write-ins even with COVID because the space is so welcoming, and if you get stuck, just look around the room. These women will inspire you,” Leach said.

In-person write-ins are scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays at the library and are limited to five people. Zoom write-ins will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays.

“We have a sign-up sheet, so how that works is, if we get more than five people signed up for a particular day, we are going to pick the five randomly,” Leach said. “We want to be very fair, so if somebody doesn’t make it to the room, their next date choice they get in.”

Leach previously led a writing group and always wanted to host one during NaNoWriMo.

“I’m familiar with running a writer’s group, giving critiques and helping writers through writer’s block, that sort of thing,” she said.

However, November is a tricky month for Leach because the Uhura Training Academy at Starbase Indy, a STEM-based education program at a Star Trek convention, also takes place each November and Leach participates in that. The event was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We take Star Trek fun and focus on women in STEM and do programming for that,” she said. “We have done that three years in a row, and it’s always been tricky, can we do both? But this year we didn’t have to choose.”

Leach said her objective isn’t to push writers to reach the 50,000-word mark.

“Our goal is to encourage people to write, so if that’s only a couple thousand words, that’s thousands more words than they had last month,” Leach said. “Sometimes, it’s as easy as getting people started. The thing I love about NaNo is, it gets you into a habit of writing, either a lot of writing at once or a little each day. It forms a writing habit, so if it’s not this material and you hate it at the end of it, you’re in a habit.”

Leach also appreciates how NaNoWriMo joins writers in an environment of comradery.

“I’m all about just supporting each other,” she said. “I think writing is hard. It’s a lot of self-doubt, so if you have a good support system, you’re going to feed off of that.”

Leach said the COVID-19 lockdowns possibly gave aspiring writers a time to rekindle their ambitions.

“So, this is a great opportunity to actually do that writing you were almost thinking of doing back then,” she said. “It is really therapeutic. If you write for yourself, if you write for an escape, if you write to help other people, there’s many different reasons to write, and all of them are completely valid.”

For more, visit nanowrimo.com.

A special dedication

Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy library Executive Director Leah Leach said the library’s first NaNoWriMo program will be dedicated to Debra Kemp.

“She has done NaNo since it started,” Leach said. “She passed away before we got this library open, but if Debs was here, she would be running this for the first time, so it’s in her honor.”

Kemp was a Noblesville resident who had written two books about King Arthur’s daughter.

“She would have loved this,” Leach said. “She and I sat in many Barnes & Noble cafes and Starbucks cafes. She was my writing buddy. She was majorly into NaNo, so we are evoking her spirit. She’s a great cheerleader of writers.”