Photo provided by Sarah Hollowell
It’s almost November. If you’re novel savvy, you know what that means: it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month, known affectionately as NaNoWriMo.
Interested in competing in a #bsuenglish Face Off? Check out information at the bottom of the post!
To get us ready for #NaNoWriMo 2014, we’ve asked creative writing undergrad and NaNo verteran Sarah Hollowell to share her experiences.
So tell us, Sarah, what’s up with NaNoWriMo?
Every November since 1999, hundreds of thousands of novelists all over the world have taken on the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Since 2006, I’ve been one of them.
I was a sophomore in high school that first year, battling social anxiety and depression. Books and writing had always been my escape. National Novel Writing Month was just what I needed. For 30 days, I escaped into a fantasy world that was imaginative but not expertly constructed (I was, after all, 16.) I wrote 50,000 words that November, and finished the draft at 70,000 words in December.
The draft…was horrible. Really, truly, never-again-will-it-see-the-light-of-day bad.
But to sixteen-year-old me, it was beautiful. It was the largest project I’d ever taken on, and I finished it. I made a novel – a bad, bad novel, but a novel nonetheless – out of thin air. I felt magical. All of my dreams of being a writer seemed more real than they ever had before.
At this point you might be thinking: “That’s nice, Sarah, really, quite lovely. Inspiring, even. But I’m in college, not high school, and November is very near to college hell. I don’t sleep as it is, or I sleep too much. My dining plus is depleted, all used on Starbucks. I eat Lucky Charms out of Tupperware because the bowls are all dirty and doing dishes is too much work. How can I possibly write a novel?”
You make a fair point, hypothetical reader. These are real concerns. Signing up to do NaNoWriMo when you’re in college is radical, especially if you’re an English major. You’re in literature and creative writing classes already, right? You have 300 pages to read and six stories to workshop every week, not to mention that HIST 150 test. Writing 50,000 words on top of that seems impossible.
Here’s the thing: I’m lazy. Ask anyone. I’m a desperately lazy person. I’m going to nap after I finish this blog post, assuming I can stop binge watching Gilmore Girls – and I’ve won NaNo three times since starting college. If I can do it, trust me. So can you.
Spend your free time locked in your room, typing faster than you’ve ever typed. Scribble in notebooks between classes. Type notes on your phone while riding the shuttle and damn autocorrect more than you’ve ever damned it before. The worst that can happen is that you don’t finish, and I’ve done that, too. I haven’t finished NaNoWriMo since 2011.
I’m looking to change that, and I think you should join me.
Announcing: #bsuenglish Write Ins!
If you’re a NaNo veteran, do it again. Write more this year. If it’s your first time, you’ve chosen a great year to start, because for the first time the Ball State English Department is going to be holding Write Ins.
They’ll be in the Letterman lobby from 9 PM – 10 PM on all the Mondays in November – that’s the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th.
Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a competition?
Announcing: #bsuenglish Face Off!
In November, we’ll have a page here on the blog with a list of NaNo-ing Ball State English majors and their up-to-date word count.
Every week, the current leader will be announced in a @bsuenglish tweet (which, of course, will earn mighty praise and envy from all involved).
At the end of the month, the writer who finishes first and the writer with the most total words will win prizes.
To get involved, all you have to do is send your NaNoWriMo username and Twitter handle to Becca Austin at rkaustin(at)bsu(dot)edu NO LATER THAN Thursday, October 30th at 5:00 PM.
Current faculty AND students welcome. Alums, too.
November is coming. Let’s write some novels, shall we?