NaNoWriMo. NaNo, what? National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, begins each year on November 1. Every November, young writers (and adult writers, too) are encouraged to unleash their imaginations and write an entire novel in just 30 days!
Two years ago we offered a creative writing class to our homeschool group using the NaNoWriMo resources as our guide. Many of the children in the class were reluctant writers — including my own. I was hopeful, but doubtful. How were two boys who never wrote anything of their own free will and volition going to sit down and write a novel in one month?
At the time, we used the lesson plans from the Upper Elementary and Middle School curricula, which can be found free of charge on the Young Writers Program web-site. The lesson plans are certainly not necessary, but they do contain lots of great material for new writers, including: the basic elements of plot, creating well-developed characters, conflict within the context of a story, setting and dialogue, and much more. Even outside the parameters of the NaNoWriMo challenge, these lesson plans can be a great way to delve into literary analysis within your homeschool.
Free workbooks are also available on the web-site for download if you want to create a formal class or learning environment around the month-long novel writing adventure. The workbooks are written in a fun and engaging style and take a lot of the drudgery out of the preparation stage (if you choose to provide one).
The crux of National Novel Writing Month is to put aside the inner editor and just write, write, write for 30 days. The editing and polishing should be done after November 30. The high velocity approach forces you to put aside unreasonable expectations, take risks and write on the fly — something we often never think to do at home with our own writing curriculum or assignments!
So what became of those two little boys (at the time, ages 8 and 12) who never wanted to write? They set individual word count goals for the month of November, wrote nearly every day, and on November 30 met their goals and were declared winners of NaNoWriMo. Winners of the writing challenge receive a coupon code in December from NaNoWriMo for five free copies of their novels, shipping not included.
Fast forward two years, and here we are at it again! In a new state, with a new homeschool group, we are about to take on the challenge anew. It’s always such a treat to see these young writers accept the responsibility of meeting a word count goal, committing to it, and ultimately achieving that goal. Even those children for whom writing does not come easily, have the opportunity to experience a writing victory.
If you want to get in on the action, adults can participate, too, but you must write 50,000 words in order to be declared a NaNoWriMo winner. To sign up, click HERE.
To sign your kids up for the Young Writers Program where they can choose any word count goal that is appropriate for them, click HERE.
Have you tried NaNoWriMo in the past? Did you “win?” What was the experience like for you or your children? If you decide to take the challenge this November, tell us in the comment section so we can root for you all month long.