Productivity and National Novel Writing Month Competition?

Start your typewriters, computers, iPads, pencils, etc. November is the national novel writing month, or NoNaWritMo for short. Each November would be writers attempt to write that novel within a month. The goal is to reach 50,000 words in 30 days. That is 1667 words per day.

The NoNaWritMo competition started in 1999 and only 21 writers competed. The competition has grown exponentially and last years competition welcomed 341,375 participants of which 38,438 finished the 50,000 word goal a 11% rate of success. Published novels derived from the competition include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.

The goal of NoNaWritMo is to just write. Lots of people have an idea for a novel, and if they just had that time to write they would produce a bestseller. This is also the problem with writing that thesis, dissertation, and journal article.

I encounter the dreaded writers block on occasion. It is also difficult to get back in the swing of writing after finishing field season. Writing is a different type of mental activity. This past field season I attempted to just write something everyday. I started an archaeology type novel, after all, I have plenty of good stories and people to base characters on. I also started writing this blog. It is difficult to do research based writing in the field, to much mental activity after a long day. So by writing, writing just anything, I was attempting to keep the mental activity of writing up in the hopes that it would improve and make me more productive in my research based writing.

The extracurricular writing has helped. Although it has been more difficult to keep up with fun writing while out of the field since there are so many manuscripts to write and finally finish. However, I think the idea of writing, and writing just anything, everyday, can help students with writing their term papers, and thesis or dissertations.

In honor of NoNaWritMo I started a writing challenge with students and colleagues. A few of my students and colleagues are a little past due in getting that chapter finished for a thesis, finishing a manuscript, and also finally writing that novel. For our competition, to keep it on a level playing field, I proposed that research base writing would count double. So to reach the 50,000 word goal for November a participant would have to write 25,000 words. Writing can consist of a mix of research and non research writing. The important thing is to just write everyday. My hope is that the participants will produce a few drafts of chapters, manuscripts, and a novel.

My wife and I are expecting our first baby the beginning of this month. Therefore it is easy to challenge my students, if I can write with a newborn in my arm than so can you! We will see how that works out! After writing this blog I can now add 601 words to my count for the day. Take that fellow NoNaWritMo competitors.

Keeping track of NoNaWritMo

To keep track of the competition’s progress, and to also provide extra motivation, I set up an iWorks Numbers spreadsheet within iCloud. Each participant has their on sheet to enter their word count for the day. I set formulas to add up the totals and I have an interacting bar chart to compare each participants progress. With the new iWorks you can collaborate together on the same document. Each participant is allowed to enter their own word count everyday. It is working great so far.


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