Students pursue writing during NaNoWriMo

For most people, the month of November means turkey, football, cold air, and every four years, the election of our nation’s president. But for dedicated writers, including many at Westminster, November also means National Novel Writing Month.

For those participating in National Novel Writing Month, dubbed “NaNoWriMo” for short, the objective is simple: write a 50,000-word novel before November 30. The website provides information for prospective writers and also helps to connect them with fellow authors. All novels submitted online are taking into consideration for various awards, ranging from writing master classes, free gifts and the possibility of getting your novel published by a major publisher. This project has become popular with writers all over the world, with more than 31,000 people participating in 2013.

“I’ve always liked writing. I don’t know what my life is without writing,” said club leader and senior Maxxe Albert-Deitch. “I started doing this a few years ago when I found out about it from a librarian.”

The group of Westminster writers meets twice a week, often in the library or in the amphitheater adjacent to Campbell Hall. During this time, writers can share ideas, help one another with editing, or simply take time out of their busy schedules to devote to their projects. Albert-Deitch along with junior Emma Hardymon started and organized the group.

“Emma wanted to do NaNoWriMo and I wanted to do it as well. We both knew others interested in participating, so we talked to Mrs. Dracos-Tice and she helped us organize a club,” said Albert-Deitch.

Jennifer Dracos-Tice, head of Westminster’s Writing Center, is the faculty advisor to the group. She stressed the importance of encouraging novelists in Westminster’s community.

“We have a lot of poets here at Westminster, which is great, but it’s also wonderful to watch some budding novelists take flight,” said Dracos-Tice. “Maxxe and Emma really run the group and have done a great job with it.”

One thing about Westminster’s NaNoWriMo club that makes it unique from other Westminster groups is the inclusion of middle schoolers. The group includes some seventh and eighth graders as well, which further expands the writing community.

“I love to read, and I saw in our announcements there was a club for trying to write a novel in November and I thought it sounded really fun,” said seventh grader Charlotte Baugher. “I don’t know many high schoolers, so it’s definitely a great way to get to know some high schoolers and hear about their good ideas.”

In order to equally distribute their word count across the days of November, novelists must write more than 1,600 words a day, and on some days they have to write more to compensate for the times they did not write as many. This project can become difficult to complete when placed on top of other extracurricular activities and schoolwork.

“It’s definitely pretty hard. You definitely have to make time for writing,” said Baugher. “And sometimes, you stay up late into the night trying to get your word count up, but it’s definitely worth it.”

“We only meet twice a week, but the writing that happens for NaNoWriMo happens every day,” said Albert-Deitch. “Or at least, it’s supposed to. I have not been as good this year as I should be.”

Some find the process difficult to complete.

“So far, out of the many years I’ve been doing this, I haven’t succeeded once, so it’s definitely challenging,” said junior Jenny Zhou. “This year I’m hoping to make it, but this last week between school and rowing and karate, I didn’t really have that much time.”

Others had the intention to start, but struggled to begin.

“I personally was having trouble starting because of the expectations of others,” said sophomore Lindie Ide. “I eventually stopped because I needed more time for schoolwork.”

However, for writers who choose to participate in NaNoWriMo, their fiction novels cover a wide variety of genres.

“I am doing a fairytale re-writing of King Lear,” said Albert-Deitch.

“I’m doing a science fiction book about how there may be other planets out there besides Earth,” said Baugher.

“I’m writing a fantasy novel about a bunch of young adults on a mission of self-discovery,” said Zhou.

Albert-Deitch is already a published author, and hopes to eventually publish her NaNoWriMo novel next.

“I have a published book called Touchstones which is in the Carlyle Fraser Library,” said Albert-Deitch. “I wrote most of it during freshman year and published it sophomore year. I have another two books coming out this year that I’ve been working on for awhile, and something’s going to happen with this [novel she’s currently writing].”

NaNoWriMo aspires to encourage aspiring novelists, from those who live to write to people who simply love reading and want to try creating something of their own.