NaNoWriMo: Miserable or Misunderstood?

While writing thousands of words sounds tedious, it has more value than you might think.

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While writing thousands of words sounds tedious, it has more value than you might think.

Jessica Vanderbeck, Reporter

On the final day of November, the creative writers of OCSA violently sobbed tears of joy, for they had finally defeated their worst enemy: NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, is a writing event that takes place during the entire month of November. During the month, participants write a novel that is a certain number of words long. The “adult” goal is fifty thousand words. At OCSA, all creative writing students from grades 6-12 have participated in this event since 2014. The higher grade level a student is, the more words they’ll have to write. Sixth graders start at ten thousand words and will eventually write up to 45 to 50 thousand words. This year, all high schoolers wrote 25 thousand words.

The very first NaNoWriMo was held in San Francisco, CA and was led by Chris Baty in 1999. Baty said that he started NaNoWriMo “for the same reason that twenty-somethings start bands.” Because authors just wanted to make some noise. They wanted to put something out there. However, many students view this event in a very different light. It took J.K Rowling six whole years to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Why should students have to write a whole novel in a mere month?

On the surface, writing all those words can be tedious, difficult, and even pointless. You have to choose between writing something good and taking forever or getting finished by the deadline and producing something less than stellar. Whether you’re a procrastinator or an overachiever, it’s a difficult choice to make. Haste makes waste, right? But NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. “NaNoWriMo isn’t about perfection, it’s about perseverance and overcoming obstacles,” says Mr. Brian Capley, one of the Directors of the Creative Writing Department.

The novel you write will likely be full of typos and unnatural dialogue. Maybe it’ll just be one big train of thought that went off the rails and crashed into a river by the second week. And once you finish it, you’ll probably want to delete that document and throw your laptop into the flames. Sure, your novel will be horrific in retrospect, a book only its author could love. But you still did it. You were able to find the motivation through cramping hands and countless cases of burnout to write all those words in the span of a month.

And as a writer, that’s one of the greatest rewards.