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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Writing through the writer’s block

AMY HOANG / AGGIE
AMY HOANG / AGGIE

National Novel Writing Month is over — now what?

Over the course of the past month, writers all over the globe have been furiously typing away, accompanied by endless amounts of stress and flowing creativity, determined to meet one goal — write 50,000 words.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon of National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo, it is a web-based challenge run by a non-profit organization on a mission to inspire creative minds to find their voices. No fuss, no editing, just continuous writing. The objective of the challenge is to finish a 50,000 word novel within the span of 30 days, which does not leave any room for any excuses or procrastination.

As December is finally here, the challenge has come to an end, meaning that there will inevitably be winners and losers — those who completed their word goal and those who did not. However, whether or not participants finished the challenge, the end of November is hardly the finish line for most.

“I definitely am going to keep writing,” said Caitlyn Sampley, a first-year cinema and digital media major, who reached the 50,000-word mark a week before the deadline. “Even though I won the challenge, I still don’t really consider myself finished because my story isn’t done yet.”

Sampley began outlining her novel well before the starting day, which ultimately aided her in completing the challenge on time.

“[For those who want to do NaNoWriMo next year], I would say plan as much as you can beforehand,” Sampley said. “Plan well enough ahead of time, so that you’re sort of winging it, but you’ve still got a strong outline to go off of.”

As a first-year student myself, I had the special opportunity this fall quarter to participate in NaNoWriMo, thanks to my freshman seminar which focused specifically on completing the challenge. The class provided a supportive community and useful insight throughout this stressful endeavor. Without the seminar, I would have never even known what National Novel Writing Month was. As part of my grade, I took on the 50,000 word challenge and wrote vigorously for 30 straight days. I found that although the experience was demanding, (as many of my classmates would agree), the overall writing process has been enlightening.

I believe that NaNoWriMo process has not only made me a stronger writer but also forced me to simply keep on creating, even when my mind wanted to give up. I found that the infamous “writer’s block” does not truly exist, and that I could keep writing as long as I didn’t let my own self-doubt get in my way. I also discovered the true meaning of time management, as writing an average of 2,000 words a day was no easy feat. Along with classes, midterms, social activities and extracurriculars, fitting in the time to sit down and write for at least an hour a day appeared practically impossible in the beginning. However, there was always a way to make it work in the end.

NaNoWriMo is truly such a unique event, as one can never really understand what it takes to write a novel until actually doing it. I would urge anyone with enough will and determination to take on the challenge.

After all, November’s only 11 months away. Time to get planning.

Written by: Sydney Odman — arts@theaggie.org

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