New English professor working on NaNoWriMo book

By Erika Moreno/Delta Staff Writer

Jennifer Justice, assistant professor of English, is working on a book for a website called NaNoWriMo.  

“You can sign up for a free account with NaNoWriMo, which gives you access to a project tracker, social forums, advice from published authors, and other perks,” Justice said.

Everyone chooses how much they want to participate. Justice mostly uses her account to help her keep tabs on her daily word count and whether she is on track to complete the 50,000 goal by the end of November.

Justice said you can also sign up for notifications for your geographic region to get updates on social events, like write-ins. This is when people meet at a designated location, such as a cafe, to write for several hours or even the entire day. They also have online write-ins for people who do not live close to a group hosting an event at a physical location.

Most people who join NaNoWriMo, do so because they have an idea they want to work on, but they need an external push or excuse to carve out time to work on the project. It is easy to let everything else get in the way of writing, especially if it is a personal interest.

“I keep an idea file for things I want to work on, and I just decide which book concept sounds the most interesting to me at the moment,” Justice said. 

She prefers to have a plot outline ready to go so that she has the broad strokes of the story already figured out. 

“Really, you just need an idea and the motivation to dive into things,” Justice said.

NaNoWriMo is open to any genre. You can choose anything that you may be interested in whether it is screenwriting, fantasy, commercial fiction, nonfiction, short stories, or anything else. You can use your idea as a starting point and determine which genre is going to be appropriate for the story, as well as for your personal preferences.

Justice enjoy’s participating in NaNoWriMo.Therefore she wanted to get others involved. She organized events on another campus, and they had a large turnout, she plans to continue NaNoWriMo at Missouri Valley College. 

“It is surprising how many people will admit they have an idea for a book or always wanted to try writing one, but that NaNoWriMo is the first time it seemed like a real possibility to them,” Justice said.

This is going to be Justice’s third year working with NaNoWriMo. The first year, she started almost a week late because she decided to do it all of a sudden. 

“I had a story idea I wanted to work on, but kept putting it off, so NaNoWriMo was a way to stop making excuses,” Justice said. “I somehow managed to make it to 50,000 words, which shocked me. Last year, I made it to 24,000 words, and while I didn’t hit the 50,000 goal, I still never would have made it to 24,000 without NaNoWriMo motivating me to carve out the time to write.”

Anyone can participate in this NaNoWriMo competition that Justice is hosting. Participants such as faculty, staff, students, or people outside the college. This year, the English department at MoVal is doing an informal version of NaNoWriMo.

However, they hope to make it a more official event in the years to come. Depending on the number of people interested and the demand, this could include writing workshops and write-ins. There is no limit to how many participants can sign up. It just takes an idea and the willingness to dive in.

Once the book is at it’s best at the end. You can decide if you want to publish it or not. However that only depends on the participants. There are various books in a list online on books that were published through NaNoWriMo. However, the website does also offer a variety of contests, such as submitting a promotion to publishers or the chance to get feedback on your book’s cover letter.

The event runs from November 1-30. You can start at any point in the month. Since the idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, time is essential. NaNoWriMo recommend aiming for 1,667 words per day to pace yourself, though you can write as little or as much as you want every day. 

“You can sign up for your NaNoWriMo account now,” Justice said.

Elizabeth Davis is a major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and she believes it will be a good opportunity for Justice to get something like this started at Missouri Valley College.

“It sounds like a very cool opportunity,” Davis said.

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