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Challenge Accepted: NaNoWriMo Begins

By Alaina Burris
On October 31, 2018

Photo by Alaina Burris

Have you ever dreamed of being a writer? Have you ever written short stories? Stories without an ending? Do you know what to do with any of the stories that you’ve written? Are you not really a writer at all but are up for a challenge? Do you think you could write a novel in 30 days?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is for you. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that was founded in July 1999 by Chris Baty. The organization’s participation has expanded exponentially -- from 20 participants in 1999 to 402,142 participants in 2017. Writers vary in age, profession and location, and are all working toward the same goal: writing 50,000 words within the 30 days of November.

“I was just doing the math on that; 10,000 words is about 40 pages, so 50,000 would be around 200 pages? It’s not that hard -- you just sit down and do it,” says Dr. Barbara Dineen, an English professor for Ottawa University.

The daunting 50,000 words for the month is around 1,667 words a day or 69 words per hour for 24 hours. While this goal isn’t attainable for everyone, there are ways to break down the numbers even more to produce 50,000 words in a month.

“I think the hardest part in writing is to just let yourself do it so that you’re not in your own way the whole time,” Dineen says. “Anders Ericcson is a psychologist who propounds the notion of 10,000 hours makes you an expert, so if you really want to be good at something, the most important thing is to just do it, do it, do it. It’s helpful to have talent, but it’s more important to do it. I think this novel writing month thing would be a really good way to improve, even if what you wrote wasn’t good. If you were really developing discipline, I think it would be fantastic.”

Anyone who decides to participate in NaNoWriMo’s contest must register on the website at Once you sign up, you can choose your location, announce your novel and get to writing. To fully participate in the contest, you must announce your novel prior to November 1.

NaNoWriMo can help you set and reach new goals within a month. According to NaNoWriMo’s website, 86% of people who have responded to end-of-the-month feedback have stated that NaNoWriMo has helped them learn what they can accomplish. While 89% of responses stated that NaNoWriMo made them more excited about writing.

“I think it comes down to the student; if you think 250 words a page, that’s not that much. If you can carve out, I would say, to be generous, two hours; I think you could do 10 pages in two hours, if you just kept going and weren’t editing yourself,” Dineen says. “But it depends on whether or not you have an hour or two. If this were looked at as a competition or challenge, it might be more fun for them.”

Sure, 50,000 words seems like a lot to write. If participants were able to write for four hours during their day, they would need to produce 417 words an hour, putting them at 1,668 words each day. While 1,668 words still seems like a lot, the average amount of words spoken by men is 15,669 and by women is 16,215, according to Dr. Matthias Mehl, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona Undergraduate Biology Research Program.

Writing out 1,668 words is only a fraction of how much is spoken per day. So, are you up for a challenge? Click the link below to get started.

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