By Natalie Jones
For Unwind magazine
November: the time for turkeys, giving thanks, and novel writing. Wait, what?
That’s correct: November is National Novel Writing Month. Nicknamed NaNoWriMo, there’s a website and entire community dedicated to the idea of finishing a novel in a month. The website describes it as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.”
For many writers, just simply sitting down and finding the motivation to start or continue writing a novel is the hardest part. NaNoWriMo aims to help aspiring novel writers commit to writing on a regular basis by challenging writers to work toward having completed a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.
The website allows interested participants to sign up and create a profile so they can connect with similar writers.
An incentive for officially joining the NaNoWriMo website is that users can earn badges through participating and completing certain milestones to celebrate their personal achievements, big and small. In addition, the site offers resources and advice to inspire writers in case of discouragement.
If you’re more into connecting with other novel writers in person, the University of Maryland has the perfect student organization: the Novel Writing Guild.
Headed by English major, senior president, Skylar Hoffman, the Guild offers weekly meetings with free snacks and a community of young writers looking to discuss, share, and develop their work as budding novelists; no experience with long-form fiction is needed to join. Meetings occur Thursdays at 8 p.m. in Queen Anne’s multipurpose room.
Hoffman has chosen to not participate in NaNoWriMo this year; however, she writes when she has the time and energy to do so.
“Right now, I’m taking the time to sit on my work so I can decide the best course of action moving forward,” she said.
However, she had three pieces of advice for those interested in beginning their own novels: get more eyes on your work, strive to have a phenomenal first chapter, and research people to improve characters.
Novel writers are not just constrained within the Guild, as participation in NaNoWriMo is open to everyone.
Freshman biology major, Olga Petrovskikh is just one student at this university participating in the month-long challenge, expanding on an old collaboration with a friend. Petrovskikh advises writers to simply write.
“There’s often this huge hurdle you have to get through before you can motivate yourself to start, but once you’re over that it’s mostly smooth sailing,” she said. “Also, it’s essential to write your novel for the sake of your own enjoyment first and foremost, not for the sake of getting it published or anything like that.”
Freshman biology major Jin Cho also plans on participating in NaNoWriMo.
“It’s a way for me to practice writing and perhaps be able to turn what I write during November into a more refined piece later on,” Cho said.
His words of wisdom to aspiring novelists were to start with reading the classics if they want to start writing.
“It’s good to try and mimic an author’s style just so you can really understand what makes a writing style so effective.”