NaNoWriMo is here

Jenna Wang, Selina Hua, and Michelle Kim

When the thoughts of crazy characters, scenes, plots, coffee addiction and nights of literary abandon all in the span of one month are mentioned, writers around the world can only think of one thing: NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, is a creative writing project that has captured the interest of the largest groups of writers all over the world from amateur to famously published. Taking place in November, it challenges participants to to write a minimum of 50,000 words in the span of a month.  The founder, Chris Baty, started this project with 21 participants in 1999, yet in a matter of just a few years, that number has quickly expanded to hundreds of thousands of people that are all on the same journey.

NaNoWriMo has a main website that allows writers to come together to form one of the biggest communities out there in the world and gives writers a source for motivation, support and connection. Through this website is where writers of different regions can come together under a Municipal Liaison, or organizer, to meet up with each other at write-ins, parties or chats.

The community of Iowa City has formed a region and is very successful with the NaNoWriMo planned events in the past. One of the most heavily-attended events is the Kick-off Party at Perkins, which is an event that goes until twelve in the morning. to count down the beginning of starting a novel.

“I love being able to be a part of the community, but I think the most particular thing that I always feel really good about is that almost every year that I’ve been doing this, I’ve been able to facilitate with somebody else having the experience that I’ve had when I first got involved with the community,” said Marie, the Municipal Liaison of Iowa City. “You need people around you to help you get out of your own head.”

I just love the feeling that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world that are supporting me in this project.”

— Gene

Gene, another NaNoWriMo participant, agrees with Marie, believing that the support system formed by writers is what motivates her.

“Honestly, my favorite part is talking to other wrimos. I just love the feeling that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world that are supporting me in this project.” That feeling has lead her far, and once she wrote so much for a straight 13 hours that “the real world was less real to me than the fictional world.”

NaNoWriMo has impacted the community of writers here at West High as well. One  former participant is Leah Dusterhoft ‘16. She agrees that NaNoWriMo has taught her many important lessons that she still carries on with her everyday life.

“It definitely told me ‘Hey look, you actually have other talents other than art,’” Dusterhoft said. “It also taught me how to keep working at something like over a course of a month, but it definitely was hard. One thing that I liked about it was that it made me think about how much work it just takes to write something, and not even just make it good; to just tell a story.”

At the end of NaNoWriMo, out of the participants that have attempted this incredible challenge, few go on to win the actual 50,000 words, but the perseverance to continue working after NaNoWriMo carries many writers far in their careers. Sarah Prineas, a native Iowa City resident, is a published author and NaNoWriMo novelist.

Having to hit that 1600 words per day for NaNo pushes me outside of my comfort zone– which is a good thing.”

— Sarah Prineas

“I absolutely love writing. People moan about how hard it is, you know? But for me it’s super fun,” she said. “Having to hit that 1600 words per day for NaNo pushes me outside of my comfort zone– which is a good thing. It allows me to turn off that pesky internal editor, at least for a while.”

Our community has been impacted by NaNoWriMo, and it will only get more popular from here on out. Order up the coffee and the late-night writing sessions; there will be plenty of more plot twists, scenes and magical words to be written in the future.