Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Novel Idea: Students Write A Lot... Fast

By Celeste Kurz
Junior Reporter
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – The month of November reminds every person of something different. Some think of Thanksgiving while others enjoy the autumn colors or football.
Yelena Samofalova/youthjournalism.org
But did you know that to over 200,000 writers around the world, including students in West Hartford, November represents NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month?
“I enjoyed it so much last year,” said Jordan Hutensky, a sophomore at Conard High School in West Hartford, “and even though I didn’t finish I’m sure I will this time. It’s really disappointing not to make it to the end, but once you fall behind it’s really tough to catch up.”
Sound strange? Here’s a brief explanation of the rules:
1. The challenge starts on the first of November and ends on the thirtieth. You have this amount of time. No starting early or finishing late.
2. The goal is to write 50,000 words in this time period. To put that into perspective, it’s about the same as a 180-page paperback.
3. Stay on track. It can be very easy to fall short of the 1,667 daily word quota, and all too hard to regain the necessary words in time if you don’t keep up.
Thankfully, after writers sign up online, they can view a graph of their progress and the suggested daily targets on their profile. The tools writers need for this grueling effort are online here.
4. Have fun! No one produces an amazing piece of work in a month. The end product is basically one giant first draft. In fact, writers are encouraged not to edit, during the challenge as they need to spend that precious time racking up their word count.
So who would subject themselves to such a thing? Do people really choose to isolate themselves from society for an entire month just to spend long hours of the night typing feverishly away? The answer is most certainly yes.
Determined to hit her goal of 50,000 words this year, Hutensky got off to a fast start this time around, with an already impressive total of 20,483 words after only a week.
Hutensky said she “forced myself not to edit. It’s too easy to focus on what you’ve already done when you just need to be writing more.”
Yelena Samofalova/youthjournalism.org
Sarah Whitney, another sophomore at Conard, said she also gave it a shot last year. But she’s not planning to do it again.
“I chose not to write this year because last year was just impossible,” Whitney said. “It’s hard to write that much every single day. You get tired very quickly.”
The entire process is extremely rewarding for many, however. Not everyone can say that they wrote a novel in a month’s time.
Plus the title of novelist doesn’t hurt.
The challenge appeals to all age groups, and the site recently announced a writing challenge for even younger writers as well. Surely they’ll have a much easier time when they make it to the big leagues.
Despite the hardships of writing, NaNoWriMo is experiencing its most successful year, with writers all around the world braving carpal tunnel syndrome and sleepless nights to boost their word counts and snatch the coveted prize at completion: 5 paperback copies of your book.
For aspiring authors, that’s a big carrot.

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