NaNoWriMo Tips: Verifying Word Counts

Some of the members of Writers in the Grove participating in NaNoWriMo have the same concerns as others about the process of verifying their month long writing word counts. There is much fear about copying and pasting their writing into a word count verification app or program and trusting that their words won’t be stolen.

Word count verification is required by NaNoWriMo by the end of November to verify that you have written the required number of words in order to qualify for completion of your goal, and the rewards of winning offered by NaNoWriMo and its sponsors.

NaNoWriMo Dashboard with Word Count and Verifier.

Let’s make this very clear from the start. The official NaNoWriMo word count verifier does not save your words. It is an online took that merely checks spaces between words and average word lengths to estimate a word count, then deletes your words. Again, it does not save your words nor store them.

The same is true for most word count verifiers online.

With your confidence restored, let’s look at how to estimate your word count for handwritten or manually typed content, and explore your options for submitting randomly generated words for your word count verification. Don’t forget, we’ve covered how to track your word count during NaNoWriMo a few weeks ago.

Calculating Handwritten or Manually Typed Word Counts

There is another challenge facing NaNoWriMo participants. What if you write by hand, not entering your story onto a computer. There are still ways to estimate your word count. NaNoWriMo recommends having a friend verify the numbers you’ve written by counting them manually, a tedious labor of love, then use a random text generator to submit the representation of that number of words.

There are still a number of writers that avoid computers, writing on manual or electric typewriters. They will either estimate their word counts using the examples below or scan the pages and have them converted to text with an OCR program.

Before we get to examples of how to use random text generators for submitting your word count to NaNoWriMo, here are some ways to estimate your word count.

  • A handwritten page, single spaced, is generally estimated to represent 100 words.
  • Between 3 and 4 single spaced handwritten pages represents a single typed page.
  • A single spaced typed page represents approximately 700 words in 10pt font, 535 in 12pt font.
  • Count the number of words on each of 10 lines of writing. Average the words per line and then count the number of handwritten lines and multiple that number by the average number of words per line.
  • If the handwritten or typed content is doubled spaced, or you are using wide rule on handwritten paper, adjust the estimates accordingly.

To estimate typed word counts by page, the Word Counter blog calculates 50,000 words is 100 pages single spaced, 200 pages double spaced.

Let’s look at the various options for submitting your word count for verification using random word generators.

Scrivener Random Words Compile

If you are using Scrivener, use the NaNoWriMo Scrivener Project Template released every year. When you are ready to verify your word count for NaNoWriMo, go to File > Compile.

There you will find the custom compile setting that will compile and save your manuscript to a text file with all of the letters converted to garbage words like “xxxx yxyyx zyxxxxxxy, yyzy zzxxyxy.”

Simply copy the nonsense words from the file and paste those in. They represent a very close approximation of your actual words, replacing each letter with another.

Random Text Generators

The popular Lorem Ipsum random word generator is commonly used to generate your estimated word count. Select words and enter the number of words to generate the randomized words.

Lorem Ipsum Random Word Generator.

By tradition, the random words generated are in Latin, but there are many other random text generators you may use to create your word count material for verification. Some offer randomized words in other languages and offer quotes from celebrity shows and characters including Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Chuck Norris, and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.

A favorite is the Blippity Fling-Flang random word generator, spilling forth this delightful nonsense to your word count number:

Zap tang hum jingle blappity bleewhack, bam dingle abracadabra dee bleepity wuggleshnozzle wubble. Zip loo woggle ting blangity blippity rizzle dongleslap? Shnozzle floo hum crungle roo slap?

Weeble! Bam zunkity flee shnizzle shnoz bam blap. Bluppity slop blung!

Bam shnazzy zingle blop zung zap tingle. Ha dang Moe…flupping blobbing bladong. Dizzle slop flangity ho blobdabba???

The only problem with using random text generators is that they often replace your words with words that are longer or shorter than the ones you wrote. According to NaNoWriMo representatives, their word count generator doesn’t measure word length but counts spaces between words, so this shouldn’t matter, but keep this in mind if your word count is drastically different from the verified number.

Verify Early

Many a NaNoWriMo writer waited until the last few hours of November 30 to verify their word count, using every minute to reach their 50,000 word goal. But experienced NaNoWriMo participants know to verify their word count early, even so much as a few days before the last day of the month.

Word counters are not perfect. Each program uses a different formula to generate their word counts. Your program and calculations may tell you that you’ve written 50,285 words but run it through NaNoWriMo’s word count verifier and you might find out you wrote only 49,892 words, and find yourself scrambling to add the last couple hundred.

Whether or not you are close to the 50K goal, consider verifying your word count on November 28. This way, you will know if you are over or under the count, and how hard you have to work on those last two days to reach your goal.

For more information on tracking your word count daily and throughout the year, check out our article on word trackers.

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.

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