How does writing a novel sound? How about writing a novel with 50,000 words? How about writing a 50,000 novel in 30 days? National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an internet-based creative writing project at nanowrimo.com, is dedicated to writing novels in one month. This year, over 300,000 people have committed to attempt writing a novel in a month.
Writing a complete novel is no easy task and demands respect. Mr. Michael Granger (English Department) said, “The people who do that stuff make me feel something deep inside my heart. I think it’s called self-loathing. But writing is great; it’s great that kids are writing.”
Writing 50 thousand words intimidates a lot of people and sounds like it would take a lot of time. Jein Park (So.), who has never heard of NaNoWriMo before, said, “It sounds interesting, but it seems like a really big time commitment. I don’t know if I would have time for it.”
However, Lisa Chen (So.), who has done NaNoWriMo in previous years and is participating again this year, said, “It’s 50 thousand words in the month of November and 1.6 thousand to 1.7 thousand a day. It’s kind of quantity over quality but it’s also a self motivated thing. I’ve done it in previous years and it was pretty doable, but I’m kind of behind this year because of school. It’s definitely doable though.”
Erika Ervoes (Fr.), who was unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, said, “It sounds fun but it seems like something only people that are creative or good at writing could do. It would be really hard if you didn’t have an idea or a story planned out, I guess.”
“Since you’re not writing for school or a contest or anything and it’s just for yourself, it doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not. It’s just putting your ideas down,” said Bessie Liu (So.), who participated this year.
And you won’t be alone–you can meet fellow writers either on the website or in person. There is a vast online community through the website via forums for tips and strategies, genre “lounges,” age groups and other categories.
50 thousand words sounds like a lot, but it is a relatively low word count for a complete novel. Some famous novels of around 50 thousand words include The Great Gatsby, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Brave New World. Some notable novels that were written during NaNoWriMo include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.
There are no rules as to what content goes into the novel as long as it is fictional; anything from fanfiction to a novel in poetry is allowed. As the website’s Frequently Asked Questions page says, “If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.” The only rules are that no previously written material can go into the novel, you must be the sole author of the novel, and you cannot write the same word 50,000 times. The only “prize” to completing NaNoWriMo is being listed as a winner and the satisfaction of writing a novel, so there is little incentive to cheat.
When asked for advice, Chen said, “Do word sprints: set a timer for 15 minutes and write straight. Write to music; Spotify radio is the best when writing. Let yourself ramble in your stories, and don’t be afraid to have Charles Dickens description. When you’re not writing, just keep imagining the plot so when you have time to write, it’s as lot faster. And even if it’s not good at the moment, you have December and the rest of forever to edit.”
At the end of the month when you finish the novel, the feeling of satisfaction is great. Chen said, “Well it’s kind of amazing feeling…it’s just awesome.”
By ELYSIA OUYANG