SPHS English students have joined National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program, which challenges teenage writers with drafting a novel of 15,000 words or more. National Novel Writing Month, commonly known as NaNoWriMo, is an annual event that presents a rather daunting task to its participants: write 50,000 words in 30 days. This worldwide celebration of creativity, held every November, provides an opportunity for writers of any experience level to hone their craft and accomplish something many would call near-impossible: to draft a novel. Participating in this annual experience has become something of a tradition for AP Language Arts teacher Ms Diane Shires.
“It’s a great opportunity for teenagers to develop their writing skills and learn the craft of creative writing. There is something wonderful about novels or short stories that really allow people to create their own writing style and voice,” Shires said.
NaNoWriMo was a small, unknown affair at its inception in 1999. Its only participants at the time were 21 young, unknown authors. In the 16 years that followed the month-long celebration of writing has grown into a national phenomenon. The creation of the Young Writers program ten years ago has introduced the event to schools and further cemented it as a yearly tradition.
Students participating in NaNoWriMo have often found themselves discouraged by the sheer number of words they must pen to achieve the lofty goal. To address this, the organization behind the event has partnered with published authors to provide tips and motivational words for dispirited writers.
“The process has been difficult because I have to write every day and I rarely have the time,” junior Cindy Tsai said. “My goal is 30,000 words, which means I have to write 1000 words every day so it’s been really hard to find the time.”
Despite Ms Shires passion for the novel writing program, other AP Language Arts teachers do not require their students to participate.
“Participating in NaNoWriMo takes a lot of commitment, both from the teachers and the students, so not everyone has the time to do it,” Shires said.