North Texas Daily

Writing month motivates and challenges students

Writing month motivates and challenges students

Writing month motivates and challenges students
November 17
23:49 2014

Samantha McDonald / Senior Staff Writer

While November celebrates everything from No-Shave November to the beginning of winter season, the month also marks a writer’s opportunity to turn a simple idea into an actual story.

Every year on Halloween, hundreds of thousands of published authors and aspiring writers around the world anxiously await National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days for purposes that include bragging rights, the NaNoWriMo website badge and a sense of fulfillment from completing some semblance of a novel.

The writing event at UNT, put on by UNT Libraries, has spawned offshoots from NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) to NaBoWriMo (National Blog Writing Month). 

This year, that acronym is AcWriMo, or Academic Writing Month. Students are invited to join in a productivity drive that spans all academic work, whether that is a 70,000-word dissertation or a three-page research paper.

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The display in Willis Library contains multiple books that encourages and educates aspiring writers. It is located on the first floor next to the library services desk. Photo by Adrian Warfield – Staff Photographer

“They tried to keep the scope to just novels in the past, but they opened it up this year because people were working on their theses and other things,” UNT Libraries Marketing Specialist Joshua Sylve said. “I think it’s just to get as much writing done in 30 days as you can with the support of people who have the same goal.”

Students can take advantage of an ever-present proctor for writing guidance and studio hours every Monday and Wednesday within the month from 3-8 p.m. at the Eagle Commons Library. Dreanna Belden, assistant dean for external relations at UNT Libraries, said the event is one way to support students’ writing development and progress, particularly at a time in the semester when projects and papers are typically due (cue: finals season).

“We’re just supporting folks that are wanting to pursue their academic writing month,” she said. “We’re hosting hours on various days so that [students] can come over and have a quiet place to sit and write.”

Denton’s Wrimos

As part of its way to connect writers within communities, NaNoWriMo hosts a “Come Write In” program that allows participants to meet other Wrimos at nearby libraries, bookstores or the local Starbucks to increase their word count while engaging with budding novelists for advice or critique.

The Emily Fowler Central Library on Oakland Street is among the host sites for the program. On five days this month, the library is opening its doors to support Dentonites working on their novels, enticing them with company, snacks and a writing coach’s helping hand. The last opportunity for the workshop is Nov. 24 from 4-6 p.m.

Librarian Laura Douglas said Nov. 10’s write-in, the library’s third, saw the attendance of seven Wrimos who were not only hoping to receive feedback, but also eager to continue writing their novels.

“When I checked on them the first time, they were just busy writing. Everybody looked very intent,” Douglas said. “This is the first time that our library has participated in it, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but it seems the turnout was good.”

As a volunteer at the Denton Public Library and tutor at the UNT Writing Lab, integrative studies senior Chloe Lemons said she organized the NaNoWriMo write-in event because of her interest in personal development workshops.

Lemons said the benefits of working alongside writers who are reaching for a similar goal gives them motivation to achieve that desired word count.

“It’s a good way to network with writers, [and] it’s a peaceful place,” she said. “If you don’t have an opportunity at home to have a quiet space to write or if you don’t have the opportunity to go to any sort of retreat, this is a good way for writers to get that.”

UNT’s Wrimos

Several UNT organizations, including Sigma Tau Delta, are also participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

As an English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta encourages its members to maintain a high GPA in their English courses and have some interest in reading or writing. Secretary and English senior Kyrstin Snyder, who makes her fourth attempt at NaNoWriMo this year, said her passion for writing persuaded her to join the event, but this passion has yet to produce a win.

Although she is an active writer, coming up with 50,000 words within the month that celebrates both Thanksgiving and her birthday has proven difficult to accomplish, Snyder said.

“I feel like honor societies and contests like NaNoWriMo attract people who are already competitive and love the quest for knowledge,” she said. “I like to think of NaNoWriMo as a taste of the writer’s life once full-time school isn’t in the way of the writing process.”

For UNT alumna kYmberly Keeton, juggling work and NaNoWriMo is a challenge she enjoys. Keeton, who participated and won in 2010 and 2012, made the target word count for every day of the month and plans to do the same next year when she attempts another NaNoWriMo win.

Keeton said that any writer hoping to get published should consider taking part in NaNoWriMo, which can be both a therapeutic activity and a learning experience.

“It’s a challenge, and many people can’t write in this style with that challenge in front of them [while] doing whatever they have to do during the week on a daily basis – living life, having a full-time job, going to school,” she said. “Many people today don’t stop to appreciate our craft as writers, so I think this is a great vehicle.”

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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