It’s National Novel Writing Month.

For me, October is that crazy month.

You know what I’m talking about. Midterms. The promise of fall break in the future but it never quite gets there. Everybody’s joining sororities and fraternities and your professor is treating their class like it’s the only class that you have when you obviously have three others.

This year, November knocked on my door and said, “Oh hey there, Emily! I’m replacing October as your busiest month this year. Good luck with your Renaissance paper about Beowulf!”

I’ve been actively avoiding my planner. I took a look at it yesterday and I just about peed my pants. Holy college life, Batman, I have tests and papers and other activities and RA things and job interviews all within the next two weeks!

Typical Alma student. I wasn’t perturbed.

But then I decided that I was going to try this new way to sell my soul to being obsessively busy.


As many of you probably don’t know, November is national writing month. Which means that NaNoWrimo stands for… well… National Novel Writing Month. Or maybe the No part stands for November. Or maybe No One Can Actually Accomplish NaNoWriMo.

In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month, starting on November 1st and ending at midnight on November 30th. You go to, make yourself a little account, and you’re on your way. I made my account yesterday morning, put my small author biography as “my life consists of cereal and awkward moments”, titled my novel, and feverishly began to write.

I need to average 1,666 words per day to get to the 50,000 benchmark by the elusive November 30th. My Beowulf paper is due that day. I also have a big Active Minds gig. And four classes.

My first instinct when I realized what a large feat this was was to cheat. I have a 107,000 word novel gathering dust in a folder on my laptop, why not feed chapters of it into the NaNoWriMo website and drastically beat the odds? Well, friends, that would be cheating, and I don’t recommend it.

I started from scratch. Last night I feverishly cranked out 5,013 words of my brand new novel by midnight. I updated my word count, where the website told me that at this rate, I could finish on November 9th. (I obviously can’t, Spider-Man comes out on DVD that day. I have big plans.) After I updated my word count, I sat alone in my room and ate most of a birthday cake with a spoon and thought about crying. I then tweeted about the birthday cake episode and put it on tumblr.

So here lies the big question: why on earth am I doing this to myself? Torture? To see exactly how busy Alma College students can be? I’m not sure I’ve answered why I’m doing this, but Katelyn Gentner, ’14, obviously knows why she’s doing the same crazy thing I am. I asked her why she’s decided to devote the month of November to cranking out a 50,000 word novel.

“Nanowrimo is an opportunity to jump-start my career as an author. I’ve babied ideas for years now but never had the gumption to sit down and write any of them. By taking part in this, I’m joining a support group of other writers who can help me when I falter and offer ideas and suggestions when I need them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. She’s not entirely worried about other commitments, too, which is something I could definitely work on. When talking about the time commitment to writing a novel in a month, she says, “I’m really worried that towards the end of the month I will have to stop in order to keep up with my classwork and clubs, but as of right now I feel like proper time management is giving me the time. As research paper deadlines approach, though, I may have to take a few days off to make sure that my classes do not suffer because of this.”

On Saturday night, I went to a NaNoWriMo Write-In hosted by See Spot Run. We were supposed to be in the Rotunda, but with all of the construction, there wasn’t any power, so we sacked out in the Wright Hall Lobby. Erika Schnepp, ’13, editor in chief of See Spot Run brought food, writing prompts, and contests. There was a ten minute word-off to see who could write the most in ten minutes. I won with 459 words and I got a really cool pin with Yoda on in that says Jedi Master. At the Write-In there were six of us, including me, with our laptops, our earbuds, and our writing pants on. Write-Ins are going to be every Saturday this month at eight pm in the Wright Hall lobby. November 30th is See Spot Run’s Night of Dangerous Writing and a NaNoWriMo sprint to the finish and a celebration if you accomplished your goal.

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NaNoWriMo is calling all writers, literary enthusiasts, and crazy students that believe that they can write a novel in November. I’ve decided I can make it work.

Can you?

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