Students form novel writing support group

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National Novel Writing month pushes participants to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month. Many writers use the event to simply get all of their ideas out on paper before making revisions at a later date.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

With November coming to an end, writers around the country are racing to finish novels they started writing at the beginning of the month.

National Novel Writing Month — known to participants as NaNoWriMo — requires at least 1,667 words per day to achieve its goal of 50,000 words. This year, Longhorn NaNoWriMo participants banded together to form a support group called Frenzied Novelists, said Jordan Smith, a co-chair and co-founder of the group.

“It can be difficult to motivate yourself,” she said. “It is really hard. That’s why we have a support group.”

Smith said she has not finished her novel and does not think it will get finished by the end of November, but several members have come close to or have finished their novels already.

“The purpose of this is to get writers to put words on to paper without strenuously self-editing themselves,” she said.

Bonding with other participants has made this year’s competition more enjoyable, said rhetoric and writing senior Susan Wilcox. Wilcox is a co-chair and co-founder of Frenzied Novelists.

“I’m taking more hours this year than I did last year, but it’s actually been easier,” she said. “It’s definitely been an exercise in time management. You kind of get this feeling like you’re on drugs, like you always have to be doing something.” The project is doable if you are dedicated enough, Wilcox said.

“Be sure you’re having fun with it, and plan ahead.” she said. “Any kind of pre-planning is always going to be helpful. Be prepared to just write for five minutes between classes. That kind of thing needs to become a habit.”

The project is manageable even with schoolwork, said Plan II biology junior Caitlin Gilchrist. Although she did not finish her novel this month, last year she succeeded in producing a 50,000-word manuscript, she said.

“Originally I wanted to be an English major,” she said. “I love to read and to write. Even though it’s not what I’m going to do, it’s really nice having something non-science, a big project, I can focus on once a year.”

Gilchrist said she primarily uses writing as a study break and will turn off her Internet to write for 15-minute intervals. Time management is essential, and distractions such as Twitter and Facebook are problems, she said.

“Absolutely go for it even if you don’t think you have the time or ideas,” she said. “It kind of kills you, I’m not going to lie. You get to the point where you’re like ‘Why did I even want to do this?’ But if you power through, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Printed on Monday, November 28, 2011: Novel month poses challenge to writers