National Novel Writing Month encourages writers to put their writing skills to the test

From the works of Steinback to those of Salinger, we are all familiar with the concept of the Great American Novel. Most authors vie for the accomplishment of writing their own stories and the opportunity to publish their work for a chance at being the next great American novelist. However, the biggest challenge when writing a novel is the pesky writing part

This is said in jest, but many writers have difficulty finding motivation or time to write. Writing is hard, even writers know this. Yet, during November, things slightly shift in the writing community.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NNWM), and many authors use this month as a means to start or complete their novels. Originally established in 1999, NNWM has made way for the non-profit NaNoWriMo — an internet-based writing project that helps bring the writing community together to share their works and support each other. 

The goal of NaNoWriMo is simple: attempt to complete a 50,000 word manuscript or story by the end of November, which essentially boils down to writing a novel in 30 days. Registering online with the nonprofit’s website will connect you to a community of other writers taking on the challenge. It is not necessary to register to participate, but many writers find comfort and motivation within a community that is striving towards the same goal. Some famous novels that were completed during NaNoWriMo have been “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, and “Cinder” by YA author Melissa Meyer.

Many St. Edward’s writing majors have shared the sentiment that NaNoWriMo is currently not a viable option. The stress of schooling, midterms and grading has made it difficult for even professors to participate.

Timothy Braun, assistant professor of creative writing at St. Edward’s, stressed that the barrage of responsibilities during the semester is the reason he does not participate.

“This is why I have never done NaNoWriMo…I graded 25 papers this morning and it is only 11 a.m.,”  Braun said.

 NaNoWriMo has faced many criticisms about how the challenge doesn’t foster good writing, but forced and rushed writing brought on by the peer pressures of other participants. Some even argue that participation doesn’t make you a real writer.

“If you feel like you have to participate [and] if this is not fun for you, I think you should try something else. NaNoWriMo should be a fun and healthy challenge. Personally, I don’t know what a real writer is. Writers write. End of story,” Braun said.

Instead of a race, NNWM should be a means of motivation to start your own story and a way to celebrate your favorite novels. 

[My] list [of favorites] is giant…”Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” [by Douglas Adams]. When I read it as a kid it seemed to break all the rules I thought writing had. [Kurt] Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” [is] a favorite as well…[and] every book written by Selah Saterstrom is gold to me,” Braun said.

If you wish to participate in NaNoWriMo and you would like to be connected to the online community you can sign up here on the nonprofit’s website.