November 2, 2016
While November marks the beginning of the holiday season for many, there's another reason writers are especially excited for November. Nov. 1 marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, a highly anticipated month-long event that encourages writers to complete a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.
NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, has given many successful writers the motivation to finally complete a novel. Some acclaimed books, including "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern and "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell, began as NaNoWriMo novels.
Many Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) students, past and present, plan to devote their time and talents to reaching the 50,000-words, what's called a 'win' in NaNoWriMo parlance.
Online communication student Rebecca Freimuth-Rivera is participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. "As a writer with zero confidence, I decided to take on the challenge in order to 'test the mettle,' seeing if those who say I am a 'born writer' are correct," she said. "In addition, I would like to prove to myself that I can, indeed, do it."
Freimuth-Rivera is relying on the support from others as her motivation during NaNoWriMo. "I plan to utilize the 'writing buddies' from NaNoWriMo, in addition to encouragement provided by friends and family," she said, referring to peer coaches many participants connect with on NaNoWriMo's online forums. She wants to see more people in Cincinnati, Ohio, participating in the challenge so she can connect with them, too.
Freimuth-Rivera already has a rough outline for her novel, which will focus on her many experiences, how they have impacted her life and what she has learned from them.
Laurelann Easton, a creative writing major at SNHU's Manchester, N.H., campus, has been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2011. She 'won' her first two years. "I decided to participate this year because even if I haven't been winning lately, I still like to participate all the same," Easton said. "This year it's a push to finish my novel that is also my senior thesis."
Easton has 35,000 words already completed, and her aim is to reach 60,000. She's prepping for success with a plan to drink a lot of coffee, listen to music and remind herself how important her goal to complete this novel is throughout the month. She anticipates writing 800 words a day, every day. She will also connect with other NaNoWriMo participants for motivation and support. "In some ways, this is the most fun part," Easton said.
While she's reluctant to share too much about her novel, Easton said that it does deal with politics and ethics, with a focus on providing commentary on some aspects of society, particularly in relation to women.
Hilary Hirtle is an alumna with a BA in Creative Writing and English. She's looking forward to the month of motivation that lies ahead. "When you're stuck in a rut in your writing, NaNoWriMo is a great way to motivate you to get all those words down on paper," she said.
Last year was Hirtle's first time participating in NaNoWriMo, and although she didn't make the 50,000-word goal, she feels more confident this year. "I've thought ahead this time and have been crafting a story outline for the past couple of months in preparation for Nov. 1," she said.
Hirtle plans to connect with friends who are also participating in NaNoWriMo for support and advice during the month. She hopes to stay motivated "by setting small, achievable word-count goals each day that will equal up to the 50,000-word count by the deadline."
Michelle Monarrez, another alumna who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and English, will be the Municipal Liaison (ML) for Dallas, Texas, this NaNoWriMo season.
"As an ML, I have several responsibilities like schedule(ing) write-ins, drive fundraising, and represent(ing) the NaNoWriMo organization in my region with pride and integrity," Monarrez said. "However, the most important thing I do as a municipal liaison is serve as a personal cheerleader for all the NaNo(WriMo) participants that might need someone to remind them why it's important to meet their word count, remind them that it can be done and also tell them that even if they don't make it to 50,000, they still have more words than they had before. I believe in them when they are ready to give up and celebrate them when they meet their goals."
Monarrez has written an 80,000-word novel, which is now in the editing phase, as a result of previous NaNoWriMo. "A great tip to stay motivated is to make it public, so I will be telling friends and family to keep me in check," she said.
She's also switching up her game plan this year. "I am not writing a novel, but a series of speculative short stories that explore meanings behind dreams, nightmares, and hallucinations with tones to raise awareness for mental illnesses, of which I am an advocate," said Monarrez. In October, she decided on the theme and created a plot guide. "I plan to follow this guide and I aim to write 2,000 words a day as a minimum," she said.
As a municipal liaison, Monarrez said she must remember to lead by example. She knows she can't motivate others if she doesn't stay motivated herself.
If you're interested in participating in NaNoWriMo this year, sign up, connect with other writers and your region's ML for support and motivation and take a major step towards writing your novel.
Currently finishing up her associate degree in information technologies, Meghan Hamlin was chosen as part of the almost-30 women from SNHU who attended the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration.
SNHU and MLS club FC Dallas teamed up to host a surprise graduation party and diploma delivery for Tesho Akindele, the first MLS player to earn a degree online from SNHU, as part of a partnership between the League and the University.