NaNoWriMo inspires, challenges writers

November celebrates different themes such as “No-Shave November” and the offical start to the holiday season. But for writers it marks the start of NaNoWriMo, the month where they will diligently attempt to complete a 50,000 word novella.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novella Writing Month and it is celebrated by writers all over the world, connected by the Internet. The project asks writers to begin their work on Nov 1 and to complete at least 50,000 words of a novel by midnight on Nov 30. That averages 1,667 words a day.

Writers can create completely fiction- al stories or write a fanfiction. Beginning in 1999 with 21 participants, NaNo WriMo had 310,095 official participants in 2013, according to its website. Writers don’t have to reg- ister on nanowrimo.org to participate, but the site offers conversations with other budding writers through over 50 forums. Once a writer completes a novel at the end of the month, they can then enter it in competitions for prizes or publishing opportunities. 

NaNoWriMo has no age restrictions so students of any grade can participate. MCCC student Katie Smith is taking on this venture to challenge herself as a writer.

“I just want to see if I can make the rough draft of a 30,000 word thing,” Smith said. “I want to push myself to write four pages a day.”

Smith attends both MCCC and Eastern Michigan University as well as working a part time job. After attempting once before, she is choosing a smaller goal than the “official” rules require and wants to average about 900 words a day.

Smith doesn’t have much of a plan to meet her goal, other than to write.

“Write anywhere. Have something to write with anywhere. Inspiration strikes anytime, even if it’s just to jot down ideas,” she said.

Smith is unsure of the kind of novel she wants to write and is considering writing a fanfiction about the fictional character, Harry Potter.

“The nice thing about a fanfic is there’s already a plot and you just place a character,” she said.

Smith may also create her own novella featuring a stream of consciousness literary style. She cites Sylvia Plath and James Joyce’s Araby as inspira- tion, as well as the 1999 YA novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

“I want to write a book like that, that people can relate to,” she said. Writing is an outlet for Smith, an English major,  to release her thoughts. “When I write, it’s for me and how I view the world,” Smith said. “I want my book to be an organic living thing, I want it to help someone out.”

While Smith is participating in NaNoWriMo casually, she may have aspirations to publish depending on if she enjoys her own novella.

Adjunct professor Scott McCloskey uses NaNoWriMo as an assignment for his Advanced Placement English classes at Monroe High School. He encourages his students to write ten pages a day for the month, without worrying about revisions.

“It lets students realize that they shouldn’t be so critical during the rough draft stages of the creative process,” McCloskey said. “Quite frankly they don’t have time.”

“I love the advice that I heard somewhere: the rough draft is not about getting it right; it’s about getting it written. NaNoWriMo lets students experience that first hand,” he said.

McCloskey also believes that the project helps his students gain a respect for writers and an appreciation for literature.

“Another benefit is the appreciation that can grow from seeing and experiencing how difficult a job it really is to craft a narrative,” he said. “ I can watch a basketball player and say, wow, he is really good, but I have no idea how good, until I, on some level, pick up a ball and try to do the layup myself.”

Though he hasn’t finished every year, McCloskey started writing his own novellas to understand what he was asking his students to do. “I thought it was a bit cruel to assign the project without doing it myself too.” McCloskey said. 

Library Write-In Meetings

Bring your laptop to work on your no-vella project from 3-5 p.m in the company of other writers. Snacks will be provided.

• Nov 12 Ellis and Bedford Branch

• Nov 19 Ellis and Bedford Branch

• Nov 26 Ellis