National Novel Writing Month kicks off at Appalachian

Ryan Morris

National Novel Writing Month – also known as NaNoWriMo – has officially kicked off at Appalachian State University.

The national creative writing project encourages participants to produce at least 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. Participants register on the official website, which provides automatic logging of daily word counts.

Writers are grouped by region to provide local networking and support. The Boone writer’s group contains 136 official participants, including Boone residents and Appalachian students. The local group hosts meet-ups at the Watauga County Public Library and “write-ins” at Belk Library, during which participants write together and set goals to complete in the time that the group is together.

Kelly Greene, the official Boone municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo, has been involved in the month since 2006.

“It’s easy to just look at the goals and think ‘oh, you’re not able to do this,’ just because of how intense the goal itself actually is,” Greene said. “What’s important is to just sit down and try to get it done. Nobody in the group will think you’re a bad person if you try and don’t make it.”

Among her roles of organizing events and raising money for the organization as a whole, Greene sees her most important duty as keeping participants in her region motivated.

“Writers and authors are usually thought of as loners, but NaNoWriMo allows people to really come together as a community and discuss ideas and really get a feel for different authors and how they write, and I think that’s really important.” Greene said. “I think that each region brings its own unique approach to the month, just because the people are different.”

Local authors – such as Hugh Howey, author of the science fiction series Wool – have been known to use the month as a tool to get first drafts of novels down in a short amount of time.

“National Novel Writing Month inspires people of varying age groups from all over to explore their imaginations and really see how they can expand their writing skills to do what is largely looked at as impossible,” said sophomore international business student Shara Cotton.

Cotton is participating in the event for the first time this year after hearing about it online and from friends.

“My roommate suggested that I participate with her this year,” Cotton said. “There are also a few people I know from campus clubs that are participating, and periodically we will have get-togethers to bounce around ideas and bolster some friendly competition.”

Sophomore elementary education major Ashley Blevins is participating for her first time after a few years of attempting to finish out the event, but getting off track due to schoolwork. Blevins sees the month as an excuse to “force” herself to get her previously undeveloped ideas down on paper, and says she has a friend who is participating just to improve their ability to meet deadlines.

“NaNoWriMo helps people … to be more creative by just writing down their ideas and editing it all later,” Blevins said. “A common motto is ‘November is for writing, December for editing’.”

The next Boone area group write-in event is Saturday Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. in Belk Library.

Story: LOVEY COOPER, A&E Reporter

Photo: OLIVIA WILKES, Senior Photographer