NaNoWriMo 2014

Photo by Krista Pylant

Photo by Krista Pylant

Casey Brown
Student Life Editor
Many people say, “If I just had the time, I could write a novel,” or “When I retire, I’m finally going to write my novel.”

They say this with good reason: writing a novel takes a great deal of time, effort and support.

Then again, some people compete in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) every year, which takes a great deal of late nights, fervor and stamina.

The rules are simple: the idea must be original for the competition, and each word of the word count must be composed between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 by 11:59 p.m.

These rules might sound easy upon first inspection, but when it comes down to it, making the commitment to write every day, or even most days, during what is an already busy month, can prove difficult.

This year is the third year I have participated in NaNoWriMo. So far, I have yet to “win” by finishing the 50,000-word goal. However, this is the first year that I have not given up during the first few days.

I, along with all the Aggies I know competing, am way behind. I should be somewhere over 20,000 at this point, and by the time this goes to print, I will be at 5,000, if I’m lucky.

However, I don’t Nano just for the bragging rights.

This year, when I logged into my account, I had a message waiting for me from a fellow writer in England whom I met on Twitter two years ago.

Writing is a lonely profession; we do what we can to feel connected to other writers: we host poetry readings; we attend conferences; we Nano.

Some groups have what are called “Write Ins,” during which a gaggle of writers grab their laptops and get together in coffee shops, libraries or private homes and spend an afternoon or a weekend together madly typing away – or procrastinating. We are still writers, after all.

Other people participate in “Word Sprints,” which are blocks of time (usually five to thirty minutes) set aside to write as many words as possible.

People organize and meet on Twitter; the “NaNoWriMo Sprints” account sets the time limit and prompt, and away writers across the globe go.

We then post our word totals and how well we utilized the prompt on Twitter and compare with other Nanos.

Not all writers are interested in competing, though. Some people stay far from NaNoWriMo because it either doesn’t work well with their writing processes or November is far too busy a month for them as they balance classes, family and, you know, sleeping.

You either get it or you don’t. You either want to talk to other writers on one of the thousands of Nano forums, on Twitter or via a Google Hangout, or you don’t. My personal favorite forum is called, “Answer as your character,” wherein you answer the question from the last post as any character in your novel, and then post a question for the next writer to answer.

Many people who take the plunge do it to challenge themselves. NaNoWriMo is the marathon of writing, the Olympics of prose, the Super Bowl of character development.

It is no easy feat, but certainly worth the camaraderie in an occupation that is mostly spent in front a computer screen or notebook, debating the use of “an” versus “the.”

This year, when I started composing the words to my novel, I felt like I was part of a community, like I do every year. I felt connected to the other people around the world who love the things I do, as much as I do.

And, let’s be honest, not everyone gets excited about commas and syntax as I do.


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