As November is upon us, aspiring authors and amateur writers alike await the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. Starting in 1999, the event, often shortened to NaNoWriMo, is meant to inspire writers by encouraging them to write a whopping 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th.
The goal seems herculean at first glance. Indeed, in 2011, only 14% of writers who attempted NaNoWriMo succeeded in passing the 50,000 word count; however, it seems less grueling when one considers the fact that editing is not supposed to be included in that month, and according to many who have attempted the challenge in the past, that the point is less the goal and more the journey. Christopher B, who will be writing NaNoWriMo this year for his third year in a row, still only reached 20,000 in his last attempt. “If you’re thinking about trying NaNoWriMo this year, but you’re worried you won’t make it — don’t worry,” Christopher explained, “you probably won’t.”
At WCI, Mrs. Jackman is in charge of NaNoWriMo and organizd a number of events in the days leading up to November, as well as some throughout the entirety of the month. “The hardest part about any profession,” Jackman explained, “are the hurdles that look impossible until you jump through them.” The hardest part about writing, she said, is “butts on seats, hands on keys” — in other words, the act of getting oneself to write. NaNoWriMo, for her, is a way to practice just that.
The methods of writing vary greatly from person to person. Mrs. Jackman described her style of writing as “standing in a flowing river and trying to describe everything that is passing.” When she participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, she did no planning leading up to the event and figured out what was happening as she went. Christopher, on the other hand, who tried a similar method, said that he “would not recommend” it, and instead planned his novel out in greater detail for this year. Each person works differently, and so each person must find a method that works for them. This is, in part, what NaNoWriMo is for.
Julien S, who also attempted the challenge last year, said that he originally thought that the challenge was mostly about the word count. “I realised it was less of a homework assignment and more of a personal challenge,” he explained. “It’s mostly for the experience of writing in a group setting. NaNoWriMo isn’t that unique of a challenge, but it provides a feeling of community.”
This feeling of community stems from the events held for the challenge, both in and outside of school. This year, Mrs. Jackman is organising meetings every school day during lunch in room 212 to give writers an opportunity to catch up on their word count, as well as an afterschool event on the 30th of November to push out as many words in the last stretch as possible. There are also plenty of events organised by the community throughout the month of November, which can be found on NaNoWriMo’s official website: nanowrimo.org.
If you are interested in trying it out, you can start by creating an account on the website. The site gives you access to forums, notifications for events in your area, and the opportunity to interact with writing buddies online who can help you to keep writing. Mrs. Jackman can also often be found in the English office (room 214) to talk, or you can stop by the lunch meetings in room 212 throughout the month.