BYU students doing NaNoWriMo: 30 days to write 50,000 words


Writing a novel is no easy task, but writing a novel while balancing a college workload can be even more of a challenge.

Despite the difficulties and workload of college classes, BYU students are finding time to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program with the goal of having participants start and finish a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. In order to reach 50,000 words, participants have to write approximately 1,667 words per day.

Kate Gibson, a freshman studying computer science, is participating in NaNoWriMo for her second time. She admitted it can be difficult to write a novel while in school.

“College and NaNoWriMo are not very compatible,” Gibson said.  “I’ve just kind of resigned myself to have no social life in the month of November.”

This year her book is about a summer road trip.

“It’s a really good experience, even if you don’t want to be a writer.” Gibson said. “I just think it’s a good experience to practice writing.”

Spencer Curtis, a sophomore from Ogden, is participating in NaNoWriMo for his third time but he did not finish the first time. Curtis’ novel is about what a man and his coworkers do when their city gets invaded by monsters. As a pre-animation major, Curtis said he enjoys storytelling and writing.

“It helps to see what you are really made of,” Curtis said. “The parts of your writing that shine will really come through.”

Curtis said he does not recommend doing NaNoWriMo to those who do not enjoy writing.

“You do have to write around eight pages a day,” Curtis said. “If you don’t think you have a story or a love of writing that is worth eight pages every day for the month of November, you might not want to do it.”

When November started, Curtis knew the names of his characters, a general plot and the first line of his book. Unlike Curtis, Lauren Gulisane, a senior from Gilbert, Ariz., is compiling her novel from eight years of planning.

“I may be kind of cheating on the NaNoWriMo thing by having a lot of things already written but I’m compiling it now,” Gulisane said.

Gulisane’s novel is about a group of friends in high school and an outcast trying to get into the group. The novel is set in the future where virtual reality games exist. The outcast creates a game to try and get into the group but he breaks the virtual game rules and they get trapped in the game. The game takes control and the story turns into trying to get out of the virtual reality game.

Alannah Autrey, a senior studying English, heard about NaNoWriMo from her friends. After hearing about it, Autrey decided writing a novel could help her with her future career. She currently has a plan to go into fiction editing, but while writing the novel, Autrey has found it enjoyable.

“I’ve discovered I really like it,” Autrey said. “NaNoWriMo is really targeted toward the people who want to write a novel but thought they never could.”

Her novel is about a woman named Jane going through an identity crisis after she discovers she is a victim of sexual abuse. The real story starts when she finds two stowaways in her car who have escaped the governing powers of another world. The stowaways do not know why they are on the run and Jane helps them in their search.

“They deal with questions of family relations, fate versus free will and using magic in a world without magic,” Autrey said. “It’s been really fun to write so far.”

Autrey occasionally attends write-ins at BYU and in the Utah County Area. A write-in is when a group of novelists gather together to write together, brainstorm ideas and aid others with the challenges of writer’s block. She said an important part of NaNoWriMo is finding the time to write the novel.

“I think that everyone is busy and everyone says they don’t have time, but there’s always time that can be found if you know it’s something you want to do,” Autrey said.

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