A novel month

A novel month

Rowan students set out to write first draft of a novel in just 30 days.

A group of plucky Rowan writers joined a national movement in November whose goal was the literary equivalent of running the Boston Marathon – write a 50,000-word novel in just one month.

The students, meeting several times for feedback and encouragement at Rowan's Writing Center in Campbell Library, are not necessarily driven by dreams of being the next big thing – let alone Stephen King – but by their love to write.

One of about nine students participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), junior biology major Jessica Paulding had written about 26,000 words, the equivalent of around 100 printed pages, by mid-month.

Tentatively titled "The Reaction," her novel is a character-driven piece about people influencing one another. And, while she expects to reach the 50,000-word goal of NaNoWriMo, she does not think the story will end there.

"I'm pretty happy with it," said Paulding, 18, of Pilesgrove, of her early progress.

Paulding, an aspiring doctor, said participation in NaNoWriMo has simply inspired her to do more of something she loved to do already.

Like all participants in NaNoWriMo, Rowan students (and a few members of the general public) were encouraged to simply "let it flow," to produce a copious amount of copy for 30 days straight and come back to edit it later.

"You don't delete anything," Paulding said. "The way I work is I get an idea for a scene and let it build for a few days. Then I'll sit down and write it all out. I might start around 10 at night and keep going until 1 AM when I realize I've got to get up for a class in the morning."

Junior biochemistry major Fred Adams had written about 1,000 words mid-way through the month. While he didn't expect to reach the 50K goal, he wasn't daunted by his progress.

"For me this is just about just expressing myself," said Adams, 18, of Millville. "I've written so many stories already. Some I've finished and some I haven't. "

Writing Center Assistant Director Sharada Krishnamurthy said either approach is fine. Despite the ambitious goal of NaNoWriMo, the main point is to get writers writing and even if they fall short they're still getting it right. That is, to write.

"They sign on in a fit of optimism or madness, whatever you want to call it," said Krishnamurthy. "The goal is the quantity. After this month is over we'll have this big chunk of material to work with."

She said human interaction – the fuel that drives all good writing – makes writing a collaborative process and that writing groups and events like NaNoWriMo provide community that writers need.

Krishnamurthy said the Writing Center, which opened at Rowan in 2009, is a resource for anyone on campus looking for help, inspiration, even a sympathetic ear in the midst of a writing project. For hours or an appointment, visit the Writing Center.