A notable November: 175 pages in 30 days

A small but dedicate group of students at the U is setting out to produce one full-sized novel per student — in one month.

Graduate student Miriam Krause plans on writing a science fiction novel during November as part of National Novel Writing Month.  Participants in the writing project attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30.

Ian Larson

Graduate student Miriam Krause plans on writing a science fiction novel during November as part of National Novel Writing Month. Participants in the writing project attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30.

Katherine Lymn

A group of University of Minnesota students is aiming to accomplish a feat that makes most research papers and essays look wimpy in comparison âÄî write a 175-page novel, 50,000 words total, in 30 days. The group, made up of approximately 20 students, is participating in National Novel Writing Month, or âÄúNaNoâÄù to those familiar with the activity, group president Eric Dolski said. For the participants to meet their goal of writing 175 pages by midnight on Nov. 30, theyâÄôll have to write an average of 1,666 words a day. Many see the month as motivation to crank out a good-sized rough draft, which can then be edited and perfected. Dolski completed the challenge last year with a fantasy novel, but he said he often spent class lectures writing instead of listening in order to finish by the end of the month. English junior Katie Green is participating in NaNo for the third year. She completed the challenge her first year, but struggled last year with the increase in homework and gave up after 13,000 words. In the past, Green said she would write for just half an hour some days, and up to four hours other days. Dolski said he started the group at the University to foster ideas among participants. While a number of University students have done NaNo in the past, this is the first year of an official group for the event. âÄúI thought it would be a good idea to get some writers together because there arenâÄôt necessarily a lot of writing groups aroundâĦ [NaNo] is such a rigorous idea you need people to help you along,âÄù he said. âÄúThe whole becomes more than the sum of its parts when youâÄôre all working together.âÄù The group has held three meetings in preparation for the first day of writing on Sunday. Lindsey Grant , community liaison for the Office of Letters and Lights , a nonprofit organizing National Novel Writing Month, said NaNo has become more popular every year since its inception 10 years ago. Grant said writer Chris Baty started the tradition with approximately 20 friends in July 1999 . In 2000, 140 people participated, and involvement has since increased steadily to 119,301 participants this year. Last year brought together 101,501 participants, 18.2 percent of which completed all 50,000 words, Grant said. Through her work, Grant said she has noticed increased interest in the event from college students. âÄúMany, many colleges have gotten in touch,âÄù she said. More than 40 works originated from NaNo have been published, Grant said, most notably Sara Gruen âÄôs novel âÄúWater for Elephants ,âÄù which was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 12 weeks in 2006. About 2,000 writers from the Twin Cities area are signed up for NaNo, which also has a large following in Seattle, Chicago, Austin, Texas and Los Angeles. Grant said the program has a âÄúhuge, huge communityâÄù internationally as well.