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A Novel Idea: Students Write A Lot… Fast

By Celeste
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/

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.”
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.
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
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/

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.
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.