UF librarian strives to get Oilers interested in National Novel Writing Month 

By Larissa Holmes

November is a time for thanksgiving, but it is also the time for challenges. For men – and some women – there is “No Shave November” and for equestrian students there is “No Stirrup November.” But there is another challenge for both aspiring authors and well-practiced writers called National Novel Writing Month. This event presents the challenge to writers to create a novel during the month of November that reaches a word count of 50,000 words. 

“With NaNoWriMo, since you’re so focused on getting 1,667 words a day, you just push through and force yourself to write in a way you haven’t done before,” said Lauren Connolly, online services librarian for Shafer Library. 

The NaNo website calls the event a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” 

Starting on Nov. 1, participants have been working toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. 

Connolly first heard about the event while earning her undergraduate from York College of Pennsylvania with a degree in professional writing. She found the whole process to be an entirely new environment and way of thinking for her. She was determined and managed to “win” her first year. She will be participating again this year. 

“It was tough, but also I found it really fun and kind of invigorating,” Connolly said. 

Coming to Findlay, she tried to create interest for the event on campus as well. She advertised the event through social media and tried reaching out to several of the professors. However, without much interest raised, she decided not to hold an event this year. She is planning, however, to plan more in advance for next year’s event. 

Her intentions had been to provide a space for students in the library and the Learning Commons to write their novels in the company of other writers. If she was even able to receive some funding from her director, she would have provided donuts and coffee. She even considered inviting members of the community to join in the writing space as well. 

“I wanted it to be mainly students but then inviting in people in the Findlay area so that way students could possibly meet other writers,” Connolly said. 

The entire process can be seen as a learning experience for students, according to Connolly, especially those interested in becoming professional writers. It can provide them with practice. However, it is not just writers who could potentially benefit from taking part in NaNo. Connolly feels that anyone has the ability to participate in the event. 

“Every discipline in some form, when you get out into the real world and start looking for a job, is going to appreciate writing as a skill. A lot of times you are going to be under time pressures. This is a good experience for writing under pressure. Even if it’s only your own pressures,” said Connolly. 

Connolly hopes that if there is enough interest in NaNo within the next few weeks so that she can host a write-in event at the end of November. She is also considering offering chances for collaboration in the editing process through the months of December and January. 

For now, areas within the community hold write-in events for students who have interest in the event or for those already participating. The public library offers several events during the month and provides a space for participant write-ins. The Cracked Pot’s Tea Shop also holds write-ins every Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 

Connolly also has words for anyone who finds the challenge to be too great and are worried about not finishing. 

“It’s going to be hard. With or without planning, if writing a novel in 30 days was easy then everyone would be doing it. But don’t give up. If you don’t reach 50,000 words you haven’t lost anything, you’ve gained everything that you’ve written. And you could surprise yourself by reaching, and even surpassing that goal.”

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