June 23, 2024

Every November, writers come together, armed with their respective tools of literary creation and prepared to write a novel. The challenge is straightforward: 50,000 words in a month, averaging 1,667 words a day. At the end of 31 days, one would have a novel. 

The goal of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) program is not perfection, as many writers believe their writing must be, but rather, it focuses on the process, not the final product. It focuses on the consistent momentum of each day, pushing forward slowly, with the novel gaining shape over time.

Founded in 1999, NaNoWriMo started out as a small project of writers in the Bay area with a dream to write an entire novel in a month. While the first year of NaNoWriMo saw only moderate success, by the time the next year rolled around, the group that had started out as only 21 participants had grown to more than 100. Every year since, more writers have been participating, working toward making their dreams a reality, with the help of NaNoWriMo’s nonprofit mission.

For the beginner writer who does not want to thrust themselves into the deep end and attempt November NaNo, Camp NaNoWriMo is a perfect option. Founded in 2011, Camp NaNoWriMo takes place every April and July, allowing authors to dip their toes into the creative pool that is NaNoWriMo.

The camp follows the same pattern as its November cousin. Every April and July, authors are encouraged to deviate from the rules of NaNoWriMo and set their own word count goals. They are even encouraged to work on projects other than novels, including poems, scripts and autobiographies.

“When I started using NaNo, I was excited because I saw it as a potential tool that would motivate me while making me feel accomplished,” said Angelina Hope, senior English major and president of the creative writing club. “Through NaNo, I would set a goal. One thousand words today, and tomorrow, 500 more. Was the writing polished? No, but my story was closer to completion, and I was practicing what all writers must do if they wish to write: persistence. 

“NaNo showed me perfection isn’t important; if anything, imperfection is the goal. As long as you have words on the page, something you care about, that’s all that matters.”

Amberly Garcia, sophomore creative writing major, sees the value in the process facilitated by NaNoWriMo.

“When I first heard of NaNoWriMo, the concept stressed me out,” Garcia said. “I was in high school, and I thought completing 50,000 words in a month sounded impossible. Now, I think it much more doable. I think it would be a fun challenge. The one problem that I have is that it’s in November, which would make it difficult to achieve word count along with school assignments.”

Grace Crandall, junior English major, won NaNoWriMo on her first try and remembers it as a beneficial experience.

“I remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car writing in the Notes app, trying to hit the word count while on a road trip,” Crandall said. “It was a lot of work, but really worth it. Not only did I have a story by the end, but I also learned a lot about self-discipline.”

For any first-timers to NaNo, Crandall encourages people to try it out.

“It’s never too late to start, and it’s never too early to dream,” Crandall said.

So to all writers out there with a dream, this April, pick up your lucky pen, your favorite notebook and write that story that is within you. There is a writer in all of us; all you need to do is let the words flow.

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