National Novel Writing Month Joins Iowa Writers’ House To Provide Challenge, Community For Local Writers

Hi, everyone! I turned in my final journalism projects the other day. I’m so relieved that they’re over because deadlines are stressful, but on the other hand I know I’m going to miss them because it’s fun to learn how to use the audiovisual equipment. Anyway, since some of you have expressed an interest in seeing these projects, I thought I’d share my very last one with you!

Originally I was just going to link to the article, but the school of journalism recently changed some TECHNOLOGY THINGIES that I do not understand and now the WordPress sites that host students’ work can only be accessed via the University of Iowa’s wifi. So I have to repost everything here if I want to show it to anyone. 

This was a huge endeavor with so many multimedia elements and I’m (mostly) proud of it! I screwed up the video interview component because it’s blurry and I kind of hate myself for not focusing the camera properly, but there’s nothing I can do about that now so I’ll just have to live with it and learn to do better next time. Otherwise, though, I’m happy with how it turned out – and incredibly grateful to everyone who helped with this project, from my interview sources to friends who answered my equipment- and tech-related questions!

Enjoy!

NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH JOINS IOWA WRITERS’ HOUSE TO PROVIDE CHALLENGE, COMMUNITY FOR LOCAL WRITERS

By Elizabeth Chesak

Area writers express the importance of setting high goals and finding fellowship

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A boisterous atmosphere filled the room in the Iowa City Public Library on the last day of November as writers from around the community sat hunched over their laptops and notebooks, chatting and laughing about the stories they created during National Novel Writing Month.

Called NaNoWriMo for short, National Novel Writing Month has been held each November since 1999 and challenges writers across the world to craft a 50,000-word novel in one month.

On November 30, the Iowa City NaNoWriMo chapter partnered with the Iowa Writers’ House, a nonprofit organization that serves both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, to host the month’s final “write-in,” a session where participants could drop in for some much-needed motivation or commiseration – whatever it took to reach those 50,000 words.

According to the official National Novel Writing Month website, more than 400,000 writers participated last year alone.

Listen below to hear Alex Penland, who works for the Iowa Writers’ House, discuss her volunteer position there, as well as how participating in NaNoWriMo led to her involvement in the IWH.

Marie Raven, whose volunteer position as the Municipal Liaison for Iowa City NaNoWriMo involves planning and hosting meetups before, during, and after the month of November, has participated in NaNoWriMo since 2005.

Back then, she was skeptical about the idea of attempting a novel in a month, but now says that “it’s meant to push you through the things that are stopping you.”

“The deadline forces you to confront those things,” she said.”

Otherwise, she said, “It’s easy to wait only until you’re inspired.”

She cited the NaNoWriMo community as another reason to get involved. “A lot of people start writing in high school or college and when you get out of that and into your adult life, you get lost. It’s so easy to be so solitary.”

Emily Schulz, an Iowa Writers’ House member who has participated in NaNoWriMo since 2008 and wrote “a vampire story and two mystery projects,” for this year’s event, seconded the importance of having a community for writers.

“I like the idea of networking with other people, exchanging ideas and talking techniques with others who are doing the same thing I’m doing. I find that very comforting,” she said. “’How to tell a good story’ isn’t something specific to one genre.”

Not all writers reach the 50,000-word goal by the end of the month. Maria Hernandez, an occasional attendee of Iowa Writers’ House activities who took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, reached 17,000 words but said she was still pleased with the result.

“My daily writing process is cathartic,” she said.

Hernandez had been meaning to join NaNoWriMo for the past three years in order to have a support system for her writing, and finally signed up this year because her story, a novel about the late artist Prince, seemed more meaningful than ever this year.

[This is the place in the article where my Storify story of NaNoWriMo-related social media posts goes. Unfortunately, I can’t embed it properly here because this blog is not self-hosted.]

Other writers take a still more relaxed approach to the challenge. “I’ve never actually managed to hit 50,000 words but I’ve won in my heart,” said L. Savich, a four-time participant, explaining that to them, it’s more important to figure out plot details.

“One of [my characters] grew a personality halfway through the book,” they said, laughing.

After National Novel Writing Month, there is still more writing in store: In addition to the usual Iowa Writers’ House meetings, each writer now has a brand-new story to edit.

Schulz, who finished her novel on November 29, said she planned to start editing her detective fiction story on December 1. “Crime doesn’t take a vacation,” she joked.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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4 Responses to National Novel Writing Month Joins Iowa Writers’ House To Provide Challenge, Community For Local Writers

  1. themagicviolinist says:

    I love this so much!! Meeting new writers has always been one of my favorite parts of NaNoWriMo. (I mean, obviously, since we’re still friends. 😉 ) This just makes me want to go to Iowa even more. The Writer’s House sounds awesome!

  2. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Fall 2016 | Writing, The Election, & “Moana” | Musings From Neville's Navel

  3. Pingback: 20 Things I Did In 2016 That I’d Never Done Before | Musings From Neville's Navel

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