Novel writing month begins in Nov. 1

Writing a 50,000-word novel in a month seems as though it might be an impossible task, but National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo challenges its participants to do just that.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with  21 people participating, but grew with the popularity of the internet.  In 2010, more than 200,000 participated from all over the world.

“It’s not so much a writing contest as a writing challenge,” junior Mary Gerlach said. “It’s not who can write the best, it’s to see if you can write the most you need, too.”

Gerlach participated in NaNoWriMo last year and plans to participate this year.

Language arts teacher Carrie Glass also plans to participate.

“I’ve wanted to for the past couple of years, and I’ve had students do it,” Glass said. “I wanted to try something new and finally get published.”

Glass says she’ll offer writing sessions in the weeks of NaNoWriMo.

“We’ll have one meeting a week in the morning for the first two weeks,” she said. “Probably two will be available in the third week, and then we’ll meet every morning for the final week.”

West Shore alumna Emily Trencher, who completed NaNoWriMo last year as her Senior Project, suggests that anyone who would like to try out the challenge should.

“I like the idea of NaNo primarily because it advocates what the people behind the program call ‘writing with abandon,’ that is writing in a way that gets all your thoughts and ideas out, without worrying about editing, and I think that’s important,” Trencher said, via email. “So many times a person’s thought process can be interrupted if they stop to fix how and sentence is structured, or if they’re looking for plot holes, or if they’re simply fixing a spelling mistake.  Some of the best ideas show themselves when you’re not preoccupied with editing as you write.

“One of the best things about NaNo is that, generally, people take part in the contest because they love to write.  NaNoWriMo isn’t an assignment; it’s not required; it’s writing for the sake of writing, plain and simple.  Giving a word count expectation is just a way to motivate people, and even make them that much more invested in getting their own novel published novel some day.”

Junior Lauren Gorewitz plans to make her first attempt this year.

“I’ve never done it before, but I’m sure it’s going to be hard,” Gorewitz said. “I’ve heard NaNo looks good on college applications.”

Freshmen Liz Schmidt, who is also participating for the first time.

“I’ve had an idea for a while, so NaNo is my excuse to start writing,” she said. “I wanted to do it last year. It seems like an awesome challenge, but I didn’t have any ideas.”

For more information, or to sign up, visit the NaNoWriMo website at

By Sara-Renee Weatherby