NaNoWriMo Calculator

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This calculator is designed to be a writer's companion when attempting to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge. Use it to track your progress as you complete (or attempt to complete) the challenge.

NaNoWriMo is an abbreviation which expands to "National Novel Writing Month." It is a tradition in the literary world to set this challenge for aspiring authors: Complete a short novel (typically 50K words) in one month.

This Internet-based meme started out in 1999, when freelance blogger Chris Baty announced the challenge to several of his peers in the San Francisco Bay area. The tradition is to start on Halloween night and end on November 30th, with a complete manuscript, notwithstanding edits.

The idea for this challenge is to inspire those who have always wanted to write a novel but never "got around to it," those who feel they have one good book in them, or simply seasoned veteran writers looking for an exercise. The month of November was picked for nesting comfortably between two busy holiday seasons, while also spanning the relatively tranquil Thanksgiving holiday and its subsequent Black Friday bedlam.


The calculator offers a word count per day feature for daily goals. It includes a progress journal where you may enter the date and current word count, yielding the percentage complete and the expected completion date to tell you if you're ahead or behind schedule. There is an augmented goal-setting function given your progress to tell you whether you're on track. And finally, a words per minute (WPM) calculator to break down your progress by hourly output.

50K words is actually a modest goal, producing a medium-sized novel. Famous novelists including Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and James A. Michener, routinely write far longer works. In addition, 30 days is actually fairly generous for a time allotment when compared to Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, who published Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in 1886 after a furious work session of just three days and a rewrite taking six days.

Nevertheless, the contest is tailored to amateur and aspiring authors, as a daunting, but not insurmountable, challenge. There is no shame in not completing it, or in writing the first 50K words of a longer work one intends to complete later. The point is to attempt the challenge and see how far you get; the only way to fail is to not try.

Associated Culture

The organizers of NaNoWriMo maintain the event annually. They have a website to register participants, a laptop loaning program for those without access to the technology, a Young Writers' Program, a hosted camp, and a support network for editing and revising the produced novels in the months of January and February in hopes of seeking tangible publication.

In the two decades (as of this writing) of the challenge's history, some 400 NaNoWriMo have seen traditional publication with another 200 independently self-published.

CAVEAT: Authors attempting NaNoWriMo should not expect perfection in the finished work. The challenge is meant to get one's hand moving, not produce profound masterpieces in one try.

NaNoWriMo Calculator

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