Cook Library celebrates novel writing month


November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an annual approach to innovative writing in which participants begin on Nov. 1 and work toward writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.

The Cook Library observes NaNoWriMo by hosting weekly write-ins at 7 p.m. on Mondays throughout November inside of the art gallery. The NaNoWriMo challenge at Cook Library write-ins allows writers the opportunity to write their novels in the presence of others, a chance for feedback and encouragement.

“National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful opportunity for people to dive into their imaginations and do one of the most crucial things in life: create,” said Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month, in a recent press release. “Everyone has a story that needs to come to life, so the shelves of the NaNoWriMo library stretch endlessly. NaNoWriMo helps people find their voice in the act of writing and through the encouragement of the writers in the NaNo community.”

Cook Library is set to host the Night of Writing Dangerously on Friday at 5 p.m. in the art gallery. The event is scheduled to last six hours and offers participants to catch up on word count during the challenge. Students who are unable to attend any of the Hattiesburg write-ins can opt to participate fully online. Attendees are not required to register at the NaNoWriMo website to participate in any of these events.

NaNoWriMo motivates writers with concepts of fervor, determination and a target end date. The initiative is for anyone who has ever envisioned or dreamed of writing a novel. Participants of the writing month can register and track their progress on the NaNoWriMo website, which also offers motivation from other writers and allows volunteers to organize gatherings to advertise and boost participation. On the website, participants can also join a region where signing up for information about local meet-ups is posted.

The Monday night write-ins at Cook Library are one of three weekly write-ins in Hattiesburg. The other two are Thursday nights at Java Werks from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at Books-A-Million starting at 2 p.m. Anyone is allowed and encouraged to participate in NaNoWriMo.

In Hattiesburg, several members of Hub City Writers make up the core group of regulars who attend these events. Students are welcome to attend any and all events. The write- ins are welcoming, informal events. Participants work on a variety of novel themes—some science fiction and fantasy, others on young adult, horror and historical fiction.

National Novel Writing Month is also a nonprofit organization that incorporates programs that empower creative writing around the world.

This is the first year Southern Miss has had write-ins at Cook Library. The librarians sought to have on-campus write-ins this year so that more students could easily participate.

“On Nov. 30, you validate your word count on the NaNoWriMo website,” said Elena Azadbakht, a health and nursing librarian, as well as an assistant professor. “That’s how you officially win NaNoWriMo. It’s more a competition you have with yourself—you challenge yourself to complete a novel in a single month.”

Writing a novel, especially within a month, requires dedication and focused creativity. Senior media production major Kirstie Lowery is writing a supernatural horror book titled “All Hallow’s Eve,” a project during which she has faced and overcome challenges.

“Some things that have challenged me in the process are learning how to further develop my characters, as well as painting a picture with words,” Lowery said. “Our readers do not automatically know what our characters or scenes look like, so we have to be very good at using words to display it for them.”

“If you enjoy writing creatively, I think it can be a great way to de- stress during a busy semester,” Azadbakht said. “It’s okay if you’re too busy to make it to 50,000 words. The point of NaNoWriMo is to commit to actually sitting down and writing—the emphasis is on getting words on the page, not on perfection.”

For more information about the Cook Library write-ins or the Night of Writing Dangerously, contact Elena Azadbakht at 601-266-6424.