Editorial Notebook

Partake in novel-writing month

Every November finds thousands of people across the country (and the world) scrambling to write, write, write until their hands can’t take any more. Why? November is National Novel Writing Month—or NaNoWriMo for those of you who like to abbrev everything.

Participants in NaNoWriMo set themselves a goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel by the end of the month. The easiest way to do this is to write steadily, every day, dividing the 50,000 into 30 sections of 1,667 words. The coordinators of the event host a website with forums and user accounts where you can find and connect with your friends, see how many words people have written so far, post a description of your novel, and send and receive messages, including pep talks from prominent “NaNoers.”

The site’s forums have regions you can join to connect with other participants in your area, as well as sections for different novel genres, general advice, character and plot ideas, challenges (you know, because writing 50,000 words in one month isn’t hard enough already), etc. There’s even a section for NaNo “rebels”: those who choose to break what few flimsy rules the writing frenzy has (namely that the writing has to be prose and that it has to be a new work—nothing that’s been started beforehand).

This year was my second time participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year, I heard about it through the creative writing course I was taking and decided to try my hand at it. RPI has a small semi-official club for the event which meets every Wednesday in November in the fifth-floor lounge of Sage Labs to sit down and do some writing together for a few hours. I started off strong, keeping my quota of 1,667 words every day for the first week and a bit. Then, I started to get busy. Classes, homework, extracurriculars, and my friends started to eat up the time I wanted to spend writing. I started missing days, and that’s a habit which forms quickly and dies hard. I ended the month with about 16,000 words written.

This year, I promised myself that I would do better. I became a NaNo rebel, continuing the story I’d started last year because I wanted to finish it, or at least make progress on it. However, as I’m now a junior, I’ve begun to get even busier than I was last year. I tried to put aside time to write, but it somehow slipped away from me. As of the time of this article’s publication, there are still two days left to write on, but somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to get down the 32,000 words I need to get to the ever-elusive target of 50k.

Despite not finishing the novel either time, I do not regret participating in NaNoWriMo. It’s been a fun experience both times, and I did some quality writing I would never have done otherwise. I’m proud of my work, and I intend to try again next year and get even more done. I also encourage anyone who enjoys writing to try out NaNoWriMo; it’s a blast, even if you don’t finish. For more information about the event, you can find its website at http://nanowrimo.org/.