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Hillsdale students participate in National Novel Writing Month | Educator Innovator

The writer’s eyes stare at the blinking cursor on the screen, clammy hands hovering over the keyboard. “Only 50,000 words to go,” the writer thinks, “time to get to work.”

Perhaps you’ve never been tasked with such a lengthy assignment, but if you’re a Hillsdale student, chances are you’ve faced an essay deadline before. The pressure builds until the limitations of time and the seemingly large stakes force you to type. 

For sophomore Elizabeth Vietor, deadlines are how she plans to write her first novel. With the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days — that’s roughly 1,667 words a day — she has set her sights on a task many college students would consider daunting. 

“It’s just like writing essays in college,” Vietor said. “The deadline makes you do it no matter how bad or annoying it is. That’s what I enjoy about NaNoWriMo.”

Vietor is not alone in her lofty aspirations.The organizers of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, expect 400,000 writers to participate this year, 70,000 of whom are expected to be K-12 students.

Sophomore and president of the Creative Writing Club Isaiah Scheuer said he expects at least 10 Hillsdale students to participate. Though it’s not the first time Hillsdale students have participated in the event, it is the first time Scheuer recalls the writing club promoting it.

“I don’t think too many people on campus are aware of National Novel Writing Month, and I think it’s something more people should be aware of,” Scheuer said. “Not only does it get the club out there, but it also is a way to get NaNoWriMo more publicity on campus.”

National Novel Writing Month has been a nonprofit organization since 1999. The website provides writers with pep talks, badges of accomplishments, and a network to meet other writers in their area. 

Sophomore and published author Jacquelyn Eubanks says fellow writers who enjoyed the experience encouraged her to write her next book this November. This will be Eubanks’ first book written during NaNoWriMo but her eighth novel overall. Three have been published. 

“In the past I’ve never needed NaNoWriMo, I’ve always been able to get novels written, but because of college this will hopefully be a catalyst to a first draft,” Eubanks said.

Of course, when you’re trying to write an average of 1,667 words a day, there may not be a whole lot of time for careful reflection. For some such as Scheuer, this deters them from participation.

“Some people are very good at writing and write out 2,000 words a day, others are more loose in their writing and they write whenever they feel like it,” Scheuer said. “I definitely fall into that second category, so I choose not to participate in the event myself.”

Others like Eubanks, who said the first draft is always bad, disagree. 

“Whether it takes you seven years or a month, it’s still going to be garbage either way,” Eubanks explained. “It’ll be garbage whether you write it in 10 years, or 20, so I think it’s way better to get it all down. You can always edit later.”