National Novel Writing Month
Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual competition that challenges writers to complete a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Though daunting, the competition draws thousands of young writers every year, including some College Prep students.
Mary L. ’16 entered Nanowrimo her sophomore year, but didn’t get to complete the book. Her piece was about a species of time traveler trying to protect a friend from a kidnapper. To Mary, the best part of the program was the support system: “The best part about it is that not only do you have a real reason to actually write, you have a whole team of people who can answer your questions. You can start a discussion on basically anything,” she said. Mary said one of the hardest parts of Nanowrimo was the writer’s block she experienced. She explained that to her, completing 16,000 words felt like such an achievement in and of itself, and Nanowrimo gave a real purpose to her writing.
Stuti B. ’16 completed the word count in 2013, reaching 52,000 words. Her novel followed a young girl protagonist who created a parallel universe. Her book is actually incomplete; however, Nanowrimo only judges based upon word count, so anyone who surpasses 50,000 becomes a “winner.” Stuti explained the exorbitant amount of pressure she felt in keeping up with her daily word count goals, and how stressful it was to catch up if she missed a day, “which led to [her] sitting in a corner during a family party typing in a really fervent and stressed manner.” Despite the pressure of the word count, Stuti says that Nanowrimo helped her expand her creativity as a writer, and allowed her to come up with more plots and storylines.
Jessa N. ’15 has completed Nano twice in 2012 and 2013. Her first novel was a coming-of-age tale, and her second was about a bank robbery in San Francisco. This year, with college applications, she was unable to complete her work, but it was a story she was very excited to write. “It’s called Willow and its set in this really small, conservative, creepy town named Corsica in the mid-90s”, Jessa revealed, “the narrator is the passionate rebel daughter of a single mom who owns a liquor store, and she meets a closeted trans woman named Willow who wants to move to San Francisco to find acceptance and a better life, but doesn’t have the money. So Diana (the narrator) persuades Willow that the only way to fulfill her dream is to murder Willow’s rich (but really beloved) great aunt and get the inheritance.” Jessa reflected upon all of her Nano experiences, saying that seeing the word count surpass 50,00 was life-changing. For Jessa, the program was an incredible learning experience, and produced a wonderful sense of pride that comes along with completing a novel.
National Novel Writing Month is a unique experience for every writer. The support system and encouragement the program provides is incredibly useful for anyone looking to become a novelist. The program provides virtual “write-ins” where writers get together online and write for 4 hours. They have pep talks from famous authors to push writers to continue their novel, and Nanowrimo provides guides on how to begin, continue, or plan your novel. Overall, the program is incredibly inspiring and inclusive to any writer, and I encourage anyone interested in writing to enter next November.