“I wrote a novel.” What if students at Mississippi College could say these words within the next year? What about this semester? In fact, they could have a literary work to call their own by the end of next month.
November is National Novel Writing Month, commonly referred to as NaNoWriMo, during which people from all over the country set out to write at least 50,000 words for their own novel. That amount may sound a little daunting to some, but the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to at least make an effort to achieving goals as a writer.
Nanowrimo.org is a site that acts as a headquarters for those who want to participate in the annual event. It allows writers to set up profiles, track word counts, and discuss ideas with other writers. The website is also a source of motivation for those who want to complete the literary challenge.
This year, Mississippi College has a student-led NaNoWriMo support group to help individuals achieve their goal of writing a novel in a month. The group was started by MC students Alexa Jenkins and Megan Cole.
Jenkins said that she and Cole had tried to do NaNoWriMo in the past, but were unable to finish. Once they came to MC and found out that they both had a passion for writing, they decided to create a support group on campus this year for accountability and encouragement.
“The group is about setting goals and keeping people motivated,” Jenkins said. “It’s also a great way to bring people together who may not normally hang out with each other.”
The NaNoWriMo student group will have their first meeting in the Commons on Friday, Nov. 1 at 8:30 p.m. to kick off the month of novel writing. The group will try to continue meeting at the same time and place on Thursdays.
The purpose of these “Write-Ins” will be to connect with other novelists, share ideas, get help with character or plot development, and most importantly, write. Students will be able to check in with each other to see how they are progressing toward their goals. Brainstorm sessions and prompts for writing will also be available to help get those creative juices flowing.
Jenkins assured that these weekly meet-ups will be casual and loosely structured.
“We’re not expecting you to crank out a New York Times bestseller,” she said. Those who want to participate can come whenever they want and do not have to attend every single week. They simply need to bring a laptop or something to write on.
Jenkins also said that students do not have to be working on a novel to join the group. Anyone who wants to begin or finish a creative piece such as a screenplay, graphic novel, or even a painting is invited to come get feedback and encouragement from peers.
Steven Price, director of the Writing Center and associate professor of English, is serving as the sponsor for the NaNoWriMo group on campus.
“I hadn’t heard of NaNoWriMo before Alexa Jenkins and Megan Cole brought it to my attention,” Price said. “I’m really proud of the two of them for taking the initiative to get the group started.”
Price explains that “writing can be social,” and that friends “can help to encourage and motivate you as a writer,” “help you generate new ideas,” and “can be good readers for your work.”
“Writing is meant to be shared and to have an audience–especially creative writing,” Price said. “And NaNoWriMo helps accomplish that.”
Many students see creative writing, even on a smaller scale, as something that they are unable to do, but everyone has that writer potential in them.
“We come up with lots of excuses why we don’t write,” Price said. “Not enough time, not good enough, not creative enough. But many people discover that they ARE good writers and that they ARE creative and that they CAN write. They just need to get started. So, don’t shoot yourself down. Just write.”
“Just sit down for 20 minutes a day,” Jenkins said when it comes to finding time to write. “You may not be able to write down 50,000 words in a month, but you will have written something.”
It is also important to remember that NaNoWriMo is a time for writing, not editing. Jenkins said that she turns her computer’s grammar check off to keep herself from correcting errors. The purpose is to get everything out; editing can come later.
The MC Writing Center can also be a great resource for those who want to get constructive criticism. Authors do not have to be writing something for class to have a tutor read over their work.
So what can students achieve during November? How many will be able to say that they wrote a novel in a month?
Students who are interested in being a part of the NaNoWriMo student group, students can contact Alexa Jenkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Megan Cole (email@example.com).
– Abbie Walker, News Editor