by Hannah Saulters
November is National Novel Writing Month or “NaNoWriMo,” a time that aspiring writers hit the ground running to finish a 50,000-word piece of fiction in 30 days. Liz Egan, the director of the Millsaps Writing Center, is working hard to get the college community involved by hosting periodic events checking in with participants on their progress. At last count, about a dozen students, faculty and staff had officially signed-up, but more have expressed interest.
Although it is her first year participating, Egan has enthusiastically taken on the responsibility of supporting other writers on campus as well as setting her own writing goals. “I can’t set up this group of people and then not participate myself, so I am doing it,” she says. “I invented a category called NaNoWriMo Lite. I just thought as a first timer, I’m going to give myself a different set of rules. So my goal has been to generate 3,000 words of original prose per week for the month of November.”
Gatherings to support Millsaps’ own burgeoning writers will take place at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 and 21 in John Stone Hall. And it is not too late to participate; writers are welcome to join the process any time. Egan hopes these events and the college’s participation in the effort will, “create a space to support informally and casually NaNoWriMo participants on campus.”
In addition to the community on campus, NaNoWriMo participants can find a wealth of support online. At www.nanowrimo.org, writers will find tips on sticking with their goals, as well as pep talks from successful authors. They can also track their progress via infographics, seeing how many words they have written and on what days they are the most prolific. They can even compare their progress with other writers who have signed up.
These tools, while inspiring the achievement of an end goal, also allow writers to understand their own process more completely. As Egan points out, “What’s neat about NaNoWriMo is the emphasis isn’t on producing a perfect and instantly publishable work; it’s just to get words on the page. A lot of people who have great ideas and could be great writers, are very daunted by a misconception of what the writing process is like.”
She hopes that this month of prolific writing will serve the writers, but also the community as a whole. “I think it’s important that the Writing Center host events like this [because] we’re interested in being a place that writers can talk about any kind of writing,” she says. “Participating in NaNoWriMo as the Writing Center helps us broaden the idea of what writing is and who writers are.”
For more information on National Novel Writing Month, Visit www.nanowrimo.org or drop by John Stone Hall to speak with Liz Egan or a tutor.