Your words, alive on the page: Week 1

Students take on National Novel Writing Month

Anne Nickoloff, Staff Reporter

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us, and even at Case Western Reserve University, a few students have taken up the challenge. The goal is simple: write a novel in the span of 31 days that is at least 50,000 words long.

Simple, but not easy., the website that started the challenge 15 years ago, tracks daily word counts and offers words of encouragement for people who encounter writer’s block and other problems. This year, the website tracks the word counts of over 275,000 novelists as they type away.

This includes four members of CWRU’s Writers Writing Words (WWW) club, who meet on a weekly basis to work together on their endeavors.


Ann Elise Campo, vice president of WWW, previously attempted NaNoWriMo while she was in high school. Now, she’s trying the challenge again.
Her novel:

“It’s kind of odd… There are two armies fighting in space, and neither one is really the good guy, but also there are these pirates that show up and make everything miserable for everyone. But the function of the book is not just people going about and having adventures. It focuses on one character and how he doesn’t know what side he’s on or where he’s going. We’re all, at least in my experience at school here; we’re confused, and have no idea about what direction we’re going in life, and [some people] don’t necessarily understand that that’s okay. Which is, I think, the most amazing thing to think—that it’s okay to have no idea where you’re going.”

Word count at the end of Day One: 300 words

Tips for novel-writers: “It’s good to have a support system… also, the general cup of coffee.”

Heather Pantell is a CWRU freshman, and this is her first shot at NaNoWriMo. While she has friends that have done it in the past, she just made an account on to track her progress.

Her novel:

“It’s about phoenixes, but they could also turn into people so that they can talk to the other characters. There’s going to be other fantasy creatures in it. I have a mermaid character and a fairy.”

Word count at the end of Day One: 7,000 words

Tips for novel-writers: “Listen to music. It helps [you] concentrate.”


WWW Marketing Chair Sue Westrell has attempted to do NaNoWriMo in the past. Over the summer, she participated in Camp NaNoWriMo (a version of NaNoWriMo during months other than November), where she got a head start on the novel she is currently writing.

Her novel:

“It’s children who want to be super villains slash world dictators. I have a surprisingly detailed plan, which is terrifying.”

Word count at the end of Day One: 3,000 words

Tips for novel-writers: “Think beforehand, and don’t completely overload yourself with things to do!”


Tasha Smith is the president, treasurer and founder of WWW. She’s never reached 50,000 words in past years, and currently participates with a smaller goal while leading support meetings throughout the month.

Her novel:

“I’m writing a short story series about a couple of magicians in space. It follows the pivotal times in their lives as they come to terms with who they are, what they are and what they stand for. It’s nice because one day I could be writing about an eight-year-old boy, the next day I’ll do a short story about the same character at age 80. There are shape-shifters and psychics and angsty wannabe superheroes, the characters are ceaselessly attacked by diabolical moon fairies and things are constantly exploding in the background.”

Word count at the end of Day One: 1,011 words

Tips for novel-writers: “NaNo isn’t like other months for novel-writing: Don’t even think about revising or refining your work yet. Allow yourself to write stupidly. Just get the story on paper.”