Writing contest set to begin

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Chances are that you have at some point in your life, whether or not you actually planned on doing it. For centuries, writers have often been considered some of the most intelligent and respectable people in our society. To say that you have written – or even published! – a novel is a great accomplishment to many. Unfortunately, writing is often a “someday” dream, as in, “someday I will write a book.”

On November 1st, hundreds of thousands of writers around the globe will turn “someday” into “today.”

This coming November, the fourteenth annual NaNoWriMo will take place around the globe. NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge presented by The Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit organization which seeks to inspire creativity in every person. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the timespan of a single month – in this case, November. For reference, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was 76,000 words. Order of the Phoenix, the longest book in the series, is over 250,000 words.

That hasn’t stopped thousands of people from different backgrounds and situations from participating over the last thirteen years, however. In 2011 alone, 256,618 people from around the globe participated, and 36,843 of them reached their goal of 50,000 words. That’s over 36,000 new stories put into words, any of which could go on to be the next bestseller.

“I am really impressed with anyone who can accomplish or even try NaNoWrimo, especially as a college student,” said Monica Shaffer, a junior at Loras. “With all the demands put on us already – homework, sports, clubs, and social lives – I hardly have the time to sleep as it is.”

There’s no doubt that NaNoWriMo can drain time from your day. An average of 1,667 words is required each day in order to complete the challenge on time. This is slightly less than a five-page, double-spaced paper. While writing a paper can be daunting, a novel does not have to be. The Office of Letters and Light recommends writing a fictional novel, meaning you don’t have to worry about checking facts or sticking to the details. This is the time to silence your inner editor and simply let the thoughts flow. The time for editing will come later, after you’ve expressed yourself.

While there are no concrete or guaranteed prizes for completing NaNoWriMo, the rewards of your efforts are far more profound than a medal or cash prize. Not only will you have claimed the title of “author” for yourself, but you will have proven that you are capable of overcoming a challenge which may seem impossible to others.

“Writing projects like NaNoWriMo are great means by which students can learn about living as a writer in a busy world, squirreling away moments and chunks of time to pursue one’s passion as a writer,” said Dr. Kevin Koch, an English professor at Loras as well as a writer himself.

While many choose to accept that they have written a novel and get back to the life they have neglected for a month, there are some who choose to take their novel to the next level. Through careful editing, hard work, and just a trace of luck, dozens of authors have taken their literary adventure far beyond the first draft. Perhaps the most notable of these success stories is that of Water for Elephants, which went on to win several awards and resulted in a successful film adaption in 2011.

If you’ve ever even considered writing a novel, whether you’re an English major or not, give NaNoWriMo a try. More often than not, the journey becomes more than just a quest to write 50,000 words, but rather becomes a personal and emotional endeavor which will change you forever. Participation in the program comes free of charge, and connects you with thousands of writers across the globe who are all striving to meet the same goal. For more information and to register, please visit www.nanowrimo.com.

After all, what have you got to lose? The person who at least tries writes more than those who do not.

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