November brings National Novel Writing Month
The month of November hosts a number of month-long holidays, including No Shave November, Aviation History Month and even Peanut Butter Lovers Month.
But if you are not into growing out your facial hair, appreciating the history of aircraft or loving peanut butter, perhaps you want to consider participating in National Novel Writing Month, also called NaNoWriMo or NaNo.
NaNoWriMo is an event that people participate in worldwide and, to put it simply, those people all attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. This involves writing approximately 1,667 words a day, which is a feat in itself.
For such a difficult task, it is surprising that in 2011 there were more than 256,618 participants, 36,843 of which actually reached or went above the 50,000-word goal. Many aspiring writers, it seems, believed the challenge would kick-start their writing and perhaps lead the way to a published work.
“[NaNoWriMo] seemed like a good way to challenge myself as a writer,” Megan Konrad said. “I never really take the time to write, so taking time every day in November to write is a good practice tool.”
This will be Konrad’s third year of participation in NaNoWriMo, and this year she plans to work on a draft that she hopes will lead to a published novel.
“My goal for this NaNoWriMo is to finish the first draft of my novel that I have been working on for a year,” Konrad said.
“In past years, my general goal was just to write 50,000 words,” Konrad continued. Now with her experience in mind, she believes that “a primary goal besides the 50,000-word challenge helps.”
Other Puget Sound students are entering the challenge for the first time, such as freshmen Clarisse Nakahama and Naomi Hill.
“I genuinely love to write,” Nakahama said. “I’ve never finished anything I write. I need the extra push to finish it.”
Like Konrad, Nakahama also wishes to work on a draft of a novel.
“I want to finish the novel that I’ve had in my head for a really long time,” she said. “My goal is to bring it all into one concrete book.”
Certainly, the prospect of completing a novel is very tempting to prospective writers.
But some participants, like Hill, mostly just want the experience of this challenge.
“I just want to write every day and enjoy the process instead of focusing on the word count,” Hill said.
There are no particular prizes offered for reaching 50,000 words—except for, of course, the satisfaction of writing a novel approximately the length of The Great Gatsby—so it is perfectly acceptable to not be able to reach that daunting goal. I only got to a little over 12,000 words last year, myself.
Even so, NaNoWriMo certainly sounds much easier than it actually is. Writing 1,667 words may seem like a piece of cake to many of us college students, but writing that many words per day for 30 days is a completely different task.
“It requires a lot of focus,” Konrad said, “like nothing else I’ve ever done before. You really have to dedicate yourself to it.”
The process can be stressful, and being a perfectionist about your writing will not get you far. The creators of NaNoWriMo emphasize the fact that “once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself.”
The goal is quantity, not quality. Get the novel out there in November, and work on editing it in the months to come.
And even through this stress-filled month, something beneficial can come from this experience.
“You definitely learn how to prioritize your time and the things you do,” Konrad said. “[NaNoWriMo] gives you a sense of construction; it makes you feel like you’re doing something productive. It gives you something to do.”
Even those who do not consider themselves to be writers can participate.
“I would recommend it to anyone,” Konrad said. “It’s not to prove you’re a writer. It’s to prove, within a set time frame, you can do something amazing.”
“Anyone has that spark of creativity that leads you to the end of NaNoWriMo,” Nakahama reaffirmed.
Whether you are the next J.K. Rowling, you just like writing as a hobby or you have never written a bit of prose in your life, NaNoWriMo is all-inclusive. And what results from NaNoWriMo, 10,000 words or 60,000 words, is something to be proud of.
For more information on what NaNoWriMo is about and how to participate please vist http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/about.