Nothing But A Novelty

NaNoWriMo kickstarts among students


Photo by Avery Myers

NaNoWriMo members sit down with librarian Collin Stephenson at the latest meeting. Kate Busse (12) and Juliana Trillo (12) have been planning out their stories and developing their characters.

Pencils hit paper Oct. 18 in anticipation for the National Novel Writing Month of November. Campus librarian Collin Stephenson is hosting the very first NaNoWriMo club for any interested authors throughout the month, but he has allowed students to come together during the previous weeks to plan their stories and get ready for a full month of writing.

“NaNoWriMo is really a collective effort to get people who are passionate about writing,” Stephenson said, “or want to create stories or just want to try writing together in the same room and give them the motivation and structure in order to actually write something meaningful to them,” Stephenson said.

Since the group’s launch, the creative writing teacher, Camille Riggins, has required all of her students to participate. Some of them , like Mackenzie Macleod (12), were already planning to join due to her interest in writing.

“I genuinely like writing and I’ve had kind of a little bit of an idea for a story for a while, so I figured why not,” Macleod said.

Other participants joined hoping to supplement their existing writing. Juliana Trillo (12) became a member in hopes of having the opportunity to write more.

“I joined because I’m not in any classes that require any creative writing at all,” Trillo said. “I really like writing, so I wanted to have an excuse to do it more.”

While the motives may differ, all of the new recruits are excited to write their own novel and see what Stephenson has to teach them. Stephenson has his own history in creative writing dating back to his college years.

“I’ve done a lot of creative writing in the past,” Stephenson said. “When I was an undergraduate at UNT I was a part of a creative writing class and I got the undergraduate creative writing award for writing a short story.”

Because of this experience in writing within a group, Stephenson is a firm believer that one of the best parts of NaNoWriMo is its communal characteristic.

“I just remember feeling really validated by having created something and it was getting recognition,” Stephenson said. “and being able to talk about my writing really just gave me confidence in writing that I never had before. I know there are many students who are excited and interested in creative writing, and I want to give them the pace to develop that same sort of confidence.”

Feedback and support are two of the main pillars that make up the NaNoWriMo club. Macleod can’t wait to see the growth of her classmates in their writing.

“I am most looking forward to collaborating with everyone and seeing everyone else’s ideas,” Macleod said. “Everyone always has a story that they want to sit down and write but they just haven’t had the discipline to do. I think it’ll be really interesting to actually get together with all the writers and watch everyone’s story come to life.”

In order to aid this growth, Stephenson has compiled many resources and links to help each author go through the novel writing process.

“I like that the Canvas course has different things to help us plan our ideas,” Trillo said. “The month of November hasn’t actually started yet, so I haven’t gotten far in writing it, but the Canvas course and the different documents really help me plan out what I want to do.”

Notably, Stephenson is not requiring members to specifically write a novel. He has opened the door to other media as well.

“I want to branch out a little bit and encourage students,” Stephenson said. “If they want to write a short story, or a play, or a TV script, or a movie script or whatever, as long as they’re creative in their writing and they’re pushing themselves to write more than they ever had, I am happy.”

Stephenson has also been very flexible with the meeting schedule. Meetings are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in both the morning and afternoon, as well as an option to come during Wednesday’s D TASSEL if you are unable to attend any of the others. Stephenson’s biggest hope is for the writers to set a goal and complete it.

“I want to at least get maybe 3,000 words,” Trillo said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where my story is going to go because I haven’t developed it that much, especially the characters, so I’m really excited to see how the story is going to plan out.”

Writing a novel may seem like a big commitment, but Stephenson urges students to look past this and take in the benefits and flexibility of NaNoWriMo.

“Even the organization that started NaNoWriMo lets people set their own goals for what they want to accomplish in a month,” Stephenson said. “The idea really is that it starts to build a community where you get the support from your peers to believe that what you’re writing is worth writing. You get feedback from myself and your peers about how to improve it and keep going, the motivation to believe that you can keep writing everyday and reach the end of the month. Other than that, the outcome is up to the writer as far as what they really want to get done in a month.”

Because November has not began and planning is the only thing that has taken place, the club is still open to new members who would like to see their own stories come to life.

“Since November hasn’t started yet, we only have a couple people in it right now,” Trillo said. “It’s really fun and I’ve done it a couple times before, so I really suggest people to join it.”