How UI creative writers are celebrating National Novel Writing Month

The nonprofit NaNoWriMo has transformed November into National Novel Writing Month, and writers of all years have welcomed the challenge, including the creative writing majors of University of Iowa.


Grace Smith

Photo Illustration by Grace Smith.

Ariana Lessard, Arts Reporter

National Novel Writing Month, known to many as NaNoWriMo, has arrived.

Since 1999, the nonprofit organization of NaNoWriMo has inspired and motivated writers across the country to pick up their pens and write a book in 30 days. With an end goal of a 50,000-word manuscript, equating to 1,700 words a day, what NaNoWriMo is proposing may seem like a daunting venture. However, many writers in Iowa City have accepted the challenge.

In 2020 alone, 552,335 writers internationally participated in NaNoWriMo, motivating the writers of famous manuscripts like Water for Elephants, WOOL, Fangirl, and many more. The organization boasts the completion of 367,913 novel manuscripts and, 798,162 active novelists this year.

University of Iowa freshman Aidan Spurgetis, an active participant of NaNoWriMo, has tried to participate for the past four years and succeeded only once, but this has not deterred him from attempting a fifth year.

“I’ve been feeling pretty intense writer’s block for the last half-year, so I’m hoping I can just push through and make something,” he said.

Spurgetis said beginning writers who have yet to participate in NaNoWriMo should focus on getting started and not worry about an end product right away.

“It’s only words, don’t worry about how good they are, just get them on the page,” Spurgetis said. “Once you get started writing and get in the habit of just being on the keyboard for a few hours, it does become easier.”

For UI freshman Wyeth Platt, the novel-writing process does not need to be an independent venture. This year, Platt assembled a group of writers and peers to turn the activity into a group journey.

“I did it last year and it was a rather solitary effort, and I knew coming to Iowa that I would meet a lot of other people that are passionate and talented in the field,” Platt said. “I wanted to see if there were people that would take the challenge with me.”

Although writers are more than welcome to write on their own, a group endeavor does provide the accountability that some writers need to ensure they really write every day, Platt said.

UI junior Conner Flynn is participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.

“I’ve never written anything over 8,000 words, and this is  50,000,” Flynn said. “It’ll really help me to prove to myself that I can do this writing thing after all.”

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