Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo)? During this month, crazed writers all over the world band together and commit to moving their stories from their noggins to the page. It's 30 days of saying sayonara to your inner editor and focusing on quantity over quality. The goal is to just finish that first draft, and let the editing happen in December. For those who are inhibited by their inner critics, it can be a fun and liberating experience to meet daily word count goals and just be creative with the writing. There are tons of online communities to support the experience, and many writing groups meet face-to-face to cheer each other on. I've participated in NaNoWriMo twice, and while I lack any published novels to show for it, it was a fantastic experience that really helped me grow as a fiction writer.
What does this have to do with teaching? Well, let me tell you. Every year, the Office of Letters and Light -- the lovely group that came up with NaNoWriMo -- sponsors a Young Writers Program to encourage kids to write. They've developed a whole curriculum to help students plan their novels, set writing goals, and overcome writer's block. They'll send out inspirational emails from published authors throughout the month of November (and these are authors your kids will have heard of. I seem to remember getting emails from Jerry Spinelli last year) to keep the kids chugging through their novels. They also have a free kit that you can order with goal tracking posters and cool pins for the kids who participate. You can access all of that information through the Young Writers Program website.
In the past, I have been blown away by what my kids have accomplished during NaNoWriMo -- not so much in terms of the quality of their writing as much as their confidence and enthusiasm as writers. I've had many kids walk away from the process thinking they could be "real authors" when they grow up because of all of the writing they were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Parents have been overwhelmingly supportive of it as well. I'm super excited to try it again this year because I think I have many students on the verge of finding their love for writing, and this may be just the right thing to make it happen.
I'll be sharing weekly updates here throughout November, but I wanted to get the information out about NaNoWriMo in case anyone else wants to get in on the fun. There's still time to sign up and prepare before November starts, so you can kick off NaNoWriMo with everyone else in the country on November 1st.
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo or are you interested in participating this year? I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions in the comments section!