Writers attempt National Novel Writing Month challenge

Abby Waechter | Staff Writer

Professional writers can take years to develop a novel, but some students are pledging to write one in just 30 days. 

The rules of this challenge are simple. Starting at midnight on November 1, competitors may begin drafting a new novel, or they can choose to rewrite an old one. By November 30, if they have successfully written 50,000 words or more, and have uploaded it to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website, they have successfully completed the challenge.

50,000 words may not seem like that much. However, to put it into perspective, that many words would be the equivalent of around 100 typed document pages, or 165 pages of a standard typed manuscript. On average, a writer must commit to crafting 1,667 words every day if they plan to finish on time — three and a half pages daily. 

Juggling the schedules of both work and school, participants must make time in their daily routine to accommodate the obstacles that their deadline brings about. Senior Regan Mulvin said that she had to come up with a new system in order to complete her novel since her schedules of both school and work are different this November. 

“In the past, I’ve done 1,667 words a day, but this year I’m breaking it up,” Mulvin said. “I’m going to write about 12,000 words a week because my work schedule makes it so I can’t always write 1,667 words a day.”

As November approached, Mulvin had multiple story ideas that she had considered using for the NaNoWriMo challenge, but decided to go in a different direction. “I ended up deciding to create a new story instead of using an old one,” Mulvin said. “The satisfaction would be higher for me if I wrote an entire novel in a month, so I aggressively started outlining my new story concept.” Mulvin’s November novel revolves around a fantasy adventure of a trio of friends traveling together as they end up uncovering a magical plot to overthrow a princess. Her characters take on the personas of a god-in-training, a con-artist, and an ex-bodyguard of the said princess. 

Along with the struggles of finding the right time in their schedules to write for the challenge, writers also have to commit to their designated writing time despite days where they lack motivation. In response, Mulvin has compiled the information of close friends and other challenge participants in order to form a small community of NaNoWriMo 


“It functions as both an accountability group and a think tank incase someone runs into a plot or character problem within your novel,” Mulvin said. 

“It really helps your motivation if you’ve got people you can talk to about novel ideas.”

The key to completing a challenge of this nature is to form an idea before November has even started. According to junior Aidian Murray, it is crucial that writers have an idea of what their novel is going to be about. They need to know who the characters will be, what the internal or external struggle will be, what their message is, and how it will conclude. “I’ve already written down specific moments that I want to happen,” Murray said. “Just finishing one of those moments or scenes is like a dopamine rush and a half for me.”

Students participating in this challenge undoubtedly have a passion for writing, but their initiative also reveals how this challenge could potentially lead to skills they may need in future careers. By practicing everyday, Murray believes that this challenge will deepen his work ethic and test his skills as a writer. 

“I think that during this challenge I will grow as a writer in the sense that I’ll be more confident in my writing and that will help me take more risks,” Murray said. “Hopefully it will give me some experience needed to make this hobby into a feasible career.”