A novel challenge

This year, two BVNW students took part in the National Novel Writing Month. The goal of the month is to write a 50,000-word novel during the course of 30 days.

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A novel challenge

Brandon Fagen, Staff Writer

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Every Nov. 1, writers all over the country begin National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in an attempt to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, an average of 1,667 words a day.

Sophomore Daniel Edmonds and senior Jenny Skaptadottir are two students who participated in NaNoWriMo this November. Both Edmonds and Skaptadottir said they have been writing for years, but were unable to complete the full 50,000 words.

Edmonds said NaNoWriMo is an event that helps and encourages authors all over the country to write novels. He said he has been writing on his own but has not participated in NaNoWriMo until this year.

Edmonds said NaNoWriMo is not just a challenge, there is an organization behind it.  

“NaNoWriMo is donation based; they have certain ML’s (local volunteers that coordinate events) for each region, usually one to organize events, and they put it on the calendar,” Edmonds said. “If you want to come to that event you don’t have to RSVP – you just show up. I know at the kick off thing they gave us [pamphlets], and some other things that you need to know to be successful in writing the 50,000 words.”

Edmonds said every participating writer also has different motivations for writing, and he likes writing because it allows him to be creative.

“There are a lot of reasons why I write and why other people write,” Edmonds said. “I guess the main reason I write is because it is nice to explore different situations and create sort of a new world, plant characters in a situation where you probably never would be in.”

According to Skaptadottir, the main way NaNoWriMo helps her write is by motivating her to complete her novel. She said she has participated in the event for four years, and despite her love for writing, in the past she has struggled with finishing her novels.

“Having a deadline really motivates you to get stuff done,” Skaptadottir said. “If you don’t have a deadline, you can just be like, ‘Oh, I will just write tomorrow.’ But when you have a set amount of words per day, it really motivates you to get going and get the words down on paper.”

English teacher Ted Fabiano said writing a novel takes persistence and discipline. He said in his writer’s workshop classes, it is common for students to be unmotivated to write because they are not inspired, or they just cannot think of anything to put down on the paper.

“What I encourage [students] to do is what I call write through the problems that you have,” Fabiano said. “Instead of thinking about, ‘Hey, I can’t write,’ or worry about [being able to write], you have to just write through it. Just write through it anyway, even if it is not the best stuff. A lot of times you find you can surprise yourself instead of worrying about it.”

Another challenge that Fabiano said deters writers is thinking that their work is not very good or is not what they want it to be.

“It takes a lot of not only persistence and time, but a lot of tolerance of your own shortcomings as a writer,” Fabiano said. “As a writer, most people want to write because they appreciate good writing, and they have read a lot of really good novels. The problem is, when you’re a writer, everyone else’s novel is already done and they are finished and they seem perfect, and you’re at that stage where not everything is good.”

During the month of November, Skaptadottir and Edmonds both said they encountered the problems Fabiano mentioned. They also both estimated that they stopped writing around 15,000 words. Edmonds said he stopped because he procrastinated and lost interest, but according to Skaptadottir, she stopped because she did not have enough time to keep up with her schoolwork and meet her word quota each night.  

“I got kind of behind on schoolwork and I had to make it up,” Skaptadottir said. “So I got behind on NaNoWriMo, and the more days you miss, the more discouraged you get in your writing, and in the end, you give up.”

Both of these writers said they are not done with their novel they began for this challenge. Edmonds said he wants go back during winter break and tackle his story again, and Skaptadottir said she wants to do even more than that involving writing in the future.

“I want to become a writer, I want to publish books in Iceland, because there is a lack of books there, there are a lot of people and not a lot of writers,” Skaptadottir said. “I’m probably going to be participating in NaNoWriMo in the future, this is my fourth year so I’m not stopping now.”