Aspiring authors team up to take on NaNoWriMo


Amrutha Dorai

Starting Nov. 1, participants in NaNoWriMo will race to complete a 50,000 word novel. The site encourages writers to lose themselves in their work. Screenshot by Amrutha Dorai.

The author of this article spent an hour staring at her computer screen wondering where to start.

Juniors Ellen Do and Dania Khurshid will not have any such luxury. Come November, Do and Khurshid will have no time for writer’s block: they are collaborating to write a book during National Novel Writing Month. The basic challenge of NaNoWriMo, run by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light, is to write a 50,000 word story in the month of November.

However, Do and Khurshid are streamlining the process by teaming up. “Compared to one person doing it on their own and having to write 1600 words per night just to meet the quota, if you divide it’s just so much easier,” said Do.

“I think we can do it,” Khurshid said confidently.

Her confidence is not unfounded. The pair has been preparing for NaNoWriMo since September. As of now, their planned plot follows a serial killer on the loose at a school that is organized into a social hierarchy based on card suites. The story will be told from two points of view, each written by one of the girls: Khurshid will be telling the tale from the perspective of the Queen of Hearts, while Do will write as the four of spades. They haven’t gone into details.

Staring at their computer screen, juniors Ellen Do and Dania Khurshid brainstorm for their novel. The girls are participating in National Novel Writing Month, a program in which aspiring authors attempt to write 50,000 words in November. Do and Khurshid hope that, together, they can meet this goal. Photo Illustration by Amrutha Dorai.
But Khurshid doesn’t think this oversight will be a problem. “Honestly, it’s not that hard, because when you start writing, it’s hard to stop,” Khurshid said.

She would know. Last April, Khurshid and a friend wrote a movie screenplay for Script Frenzy, a similar program which is also run by the Office of Letters and Light. However, this is the first time either Khurshid or Do is trying their hand at NaNoWriMo.

“I’m really excited,” Do said. “It’s really morbid, but I really look forward to writing about the killing.”

As the program is not a competition, winning is considered to be simply finishing 50,000 words. Even if they complete the challenge, however, Do and Khurshid will not attempt to get their novel published. They are not in this for money or success.

“I think I’ll learn a lot about myself while doing this, and about Ellen, more than I will about the book and the whole writing experience,” Khurshid said. “It’s a very personal thing, writing. It’s hard to be able to share that with the world.”

For a moment, Khurshid and Do were both lost for words. But come November, they’re going to have to find 50,000.