Students plunge into National Novel Writing Month


Freshman Emma Zhang works intently on her novel at NaNoWriMo Club.

Ellen Kan

The room is quiet except for the sound of pencils scribbling furiously across sheets of paper and fingers tapping away rapidly on keyboards. Under any other circumstances, this would be indicative of a stressful testing situation. But at Jefferson’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Club, these sounds are merely telltale signs of inspiration coming to life on paper.

NaNoWriMo, a much-anticipated event in the international community of writers, officially kicks off on Nov. 1 every year. People from around the world, whether they are published authors or first-time amateurs, step up to the challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. In 2012, NaNoWriMo reported a record number of 341,375 participants.

After receiving ample interest from students, guidance counselor Christina Ketchem created an eighth period club for NaNoWriMo writers in hopes that interested students will benefit from the extra time in school. The club, which held its first session on Oct. 30, will be on Wednesday during A-Block for the month of November.

“There are a good number of students with a passion for writing who haven’t tried yet,” Ketchem, who is writing her own novel, said. “I think NaNoWriMo serves as a creative outlet and teaches kids a challenge because 50,000 words in one month is very difficult on top of other commitments.”

Several Jefferson students, including sophomore Julie Lee, are trying their hand at the event for the first time.

“I always thought of how cool it was for people to write novels in such a short amount of time, when other writers take years to write a single book,” Lee, who is in the process of writing about foreign languages and linguistics, said.

Other students are using NaNoWriMo as a motivational boost on current writing projects. Freshman Zara Batalvi is in the process of writing a young adult novel about the romanticized college experience.

“I always think I don’t have enough inspiration,” Batalvi said. “One month really pressures me into coming up with new ideas quickly. I want to have a really good idea of my plot and some idea of how to proceed once I have 50,000 words done.”

An issue for many students will be time management, as the schedule of the typical Jefferson student does not allow for much time to pursue outside activities. NaNoWriMo participants must average about 1,667 words per day to meet their minimum word count by Nov. 30.

“I don’t have a set word count for every day because it doesn’t work for me,” Batalvi said. “I just keep writing and sometimes spread my words out by going back and adding to previous chapters.”