NaNoWriMo inspires Albemarle students


Kaitlyn Miller

Senior Kathlynn Lewis creates a visual journal spread for her NaNoWriMo characters in the creative writing room. Many of her classmates are also participating in NaNoWriMo this November.

Jennifer Leider, Staff Writer

One month. One novel. 50,000 words. For many, this challenge doesn’t seem possible, let alone enjoyable. But for the participants of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing month, this is a daring and exciting test.

NaNoWriMo began on Nov. 1 and runs the entire month. It is a writing competition meant to compel writers young and old to finish their novels or begin new ones. Anybody is able to join online and have the computer program track his or her progress. It is not really a contest, but a challenge between the writer and him or herself.

NaNoWriMo started in July of 1999, and consisted of 21 people in the San Francisco bay area. According to, creator Chris Baty made guidelines and regulations a year later, and the idea quickly spread to other states.

To “win” NaNoWriMo, one simply has to fulfill the requirements of writing 50,000 words. Then the participant receives an official certificate from the online NaNoWriMo website, congratulating them on their hard work.

Many students from creative writing class are encouraging one another to participate, including junior Ben Mcafee. “To me, [NaNoWriMo] means being determined and writing despite the pressure of the deadline.” Mcafee is planning his fiction piece to be an action piece, about “a guard trained by the government and sent to a small farm because of his lack of experience.”

Sophomore Allison Jaggers is also participating in the challenge. She wanted to participate because, “it’s a good chance to start making my mark in the writing world.” Jaggers has a basic idea of what she wants to write, but is still “tweaking the characters.”

Jaggers’ main concern about the deadline is that she does not have enough time. “Since I’m part of the drama department, it will be hard for me to find time to write 1,667 words a day,” she said.

Despite this setback, Jaggers is excited for NaNoWriMo because, “it will feel like such a big accomplishment to finish a novel.” She is writing her novel with her sister in law (who is also participating), making sure to find time to “hang out and write.”

Junior Kathryn DeFrank is another AHS student involved in NaNoWriMo. But she is not unfamiliar to this contest- she completed the challenge and received a certificate last year. “It felt really good to win,” she explained. “I put myself through so much stress, so it was a relief to receive the award.”

DeFrank is ready to challenge herself again this year. “It is a time where I am forced to write- I can’t put it off, because of the competitive nature of the contest.”

She enjoys the challenge because “In this month, it means more to me to write a novel in the short time frame, than if I just write a novel willy nilly throughout the course of five years.”

The daily word requirements are a difficult task for DeFrank. “If you’re busy for two days, then suddenly you’re like 3,000 words behind- it’s hard to come back from that.”

Creative writing teacher Charlotte Wood also immersed herself in the hectic NaNoWriMo challenge with her students, but she was skeptical at first.  “I am planning, considering seriously thinking about it,” she joked. Wood loves seeing her students participate in the competition. “It’s inspiring to a teacher that they want to write beyond writing for class.”

Since Wood enjoyed watching her students participate so much, she decided to give NaNoWriMo a try. “If I can do it, regardless of what’s going on in my life, I can make the time to pursue my passion- while having a full time job, working on schoolwork outside of school and raising a toddler.”

Many students at AHS have risen to the NaNoWriMo challenge, and many more will follow as they accept the task of typing 50,000 words.