Autumn continues to be an excellent time for teachers, because with Connected Educators Month behind us, National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. Sometimes abbreviated NaNoWriMo, this event takes place during November and encourages aspiring writers to dedicate themselves to one large piece in the form of a novel. Over the course of the month, hundreds of thousands of adult writers craft 50,000 words or more, while young adult novelists are challenged with similar goals and a smaller overall word count. According to National Novel Writing Month, more than 300,000 adults and 90,000 young writers participated in NaNoWriMo in 2013. For educators, this is another opportunity to collaborate with others across the nation and challenge students to become creative writers.
About National Novel Writing Month
While National Novel Writing Month may sound like a hefty commitment, the organization encourages people of all backgrounds to find their untapped creative potential. The word count may seem like a lot, but as it is divided up over the 30 days it’s mostly a matter of consistency. The organization is divided into an adult program and the Young Writers Program, and also works with libraries, bookstores, and community centers to create resource centers for writers throughout the month. The organization states that 650 libraries opened up their doors for writers to work on their novels in 2013.
According to National Novel Writing Month, more than 250 novels written during the event have been published, including Hugh Howey’s Wool, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Furthermore, the organization works with a number or renowned author mentors such as Veronica Roth, Chuck Wendig, and Tamora Pierce.
In the past National Novel Writing Month has partnered with the organization We Need Diverse Books to encourage participants to craft novels from diverse perspectives.
The Young Writers Program
The Young Writers Program was founded by NaNoWriMo in 2005 due to immense feedback from educators working to bring novel-writing into the classroom. Students of all ages have the opportunity to participate independently or in the classroom, and National Novel Writing Month offers a wide range of resources for both students and educators. In 2012, the Young Writers Program had more than 82,000 writers and educators participating across approximately 2,000 classrooms. Participants in the Young Writers Program set realistic, individual goals rather than commit to the 50,000 word count of the adult program. The Young Writers Program website offers a wide range of information for students, teachers, and parents.
Educators who choose to bring novel-writing into their classrooms for the month of November have a great opportunity to do a lot of creative work with students. Participants in National Novel Writing Month are encouraged to write extremely frequently and have a chance to strengthen their creative writing skills. For many students, this is an opportunity to reach a goal that may otherwise seem impossible.
However, educators should do a significant amount of preparation. Students will need time and resources to write throughout the entire month, and they will likely need tangible goals and guidance to stay motivated. Considering most students have likely never written a piece as extensive and lengthy as a novel, they may need help mapping out the plot and story structure. Moreover, National Novel Writing Month is a good opportunity for educators to teach students literary terms that they may want to utilize in the course of their writing.
Edutopia recommends celebrating milestones and having a means of charting progress. With encouragement and ample resources, National Novel Writing Month can prove to be an opportunity for many students to realize their writing and storytelling abilities.