by Rachel Diebel, A&E Writer
This November, more than 200,000 people will attempt to do something a little crazy: write a novel.
November is National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo, a nationwide event during which anyone brave enough tries to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
The event began when founder Chris Baty and 20 of his friends decided to try to write novels over the course of a month simply because they were aspiring writers with nothing else to do.
That spontaneous decision blossomed into a well-known annual event that has even led to publication for some NaNoWriMo participants. Popular young adult novels “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins and “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern — which also has a Hollywood adaptation in the works — originated as NaNoWriMo projects.
“It’s kind of like running a marathon,” first-year Dylan Nehrenberg said, a participant in NaNoWriMo. “It can be really painful, but for some reason you keep wanting to do it. It’s the same with writing.”
“It’s hard,” first-year Courtney Gould said, who is also rising to the challenge. “You realize you can sit down for an hour and only write 30 words.” Gould said it is difficult to write when you doubt the quality of your work, “but you have to force yourself to not look back at it.”
Some argue that NaNoWriMo encourages poor writing because the focus is on quantity rather than quality.
However, NaNoWriMo participants are encouraged to edit their novel once they have completed it and are provided with resources and recommendations about the editing process.
Because the event is about striving to complete a goal and not necessarily about producing superlative writing, many casual writers participate.
Nehrenberg said that despite the hardships, NaNoWriMo is “a great motivator.” He added, “I greatly enjoy writing, but I have to give myself the time to do it.”
This is Gould’s third year participating in NaNoWriMo. She said, “it’s just something my friends and I do every year.”
NaNoWriMo is in its 13th year, and every year the number of participants and the number of winners has increased dramatically. Though the event is not a competition, “winning” NaNoWriMo — successfully completing the 50,000-word goal — is the ultimate aim for some returning participants
“It would feel really good [to reach the goal],” Gould said. She added that succeeding “would feel like a big accomplishment.”
The NaNoWriMo website provides support for anyone wishing to join in the month-long journey to 50,000 words.
Authors like Kate DiCamillo — “The Tale of Desperoux” – and Karen Russell — “Swamplandia !” — send daily pep talks via email. NaNoWriMo resources also include daily ideas about ways writers can take their stories in new directions or avoid writer’s block.
Regional managers hold write-ins and provide support for anyone struggling with the project.
At Pacific Lutheran University, The Mark writing club meets on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and holds write-ins for NaNoWriMo.