It’s nearly November and aspiring novelists all over the world are getting ready for this year’s NaNoWriMo, but what is it?
In a nutshell it’s National Novel Writing Month (get it? Na-No-Wri-Mo), where writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel… in a month. That seems pretty unachievable at first but that’s actually committing to writing 1667 words a day for 30 days; which sounds a lot less intimidating.
You don’t have to write a 50,000 word novel. It could be 50,000 words worth of short stories or a novel that keeps on going, anything you like really. And it doesn’t really even have to be 50,000 words.
The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to set a writing target and stick to it.
So why participate?
- It helps to create a good habit – sitting and writing for a certain amount of time a day – even if it’s just to free write or write in a journal is almost meditative and a good opportunity for self-reflection. Plus we live in such a busy world it’s important to regularly seek out a bit of calm.
- “Winning” NaNoWriMo by managing to complete your goal gives you a nice rosy glow of success.
- You learn to do instead of procrastinate. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of something and just never get past the planning stage. For many writers with a loud internal editor it can be hard not to obsess over every word. But when you have a strict goal you have to meet you have to force yourself to just write, and leave the editing for after.
- You get to actually make something, even if that something is just for you.
- You get in touch with your imagination. You don’t have to make a masterpiece to achieve something with NaNoWriMo; sometimes it’s just about kick starting your creative side.
- If you get a team together or join one online you can make it a collaborative experience.
- During the edit, it’s a good opportunity to improve your grammar knowledge and writing skills. Especially if you’re using software like Scrivener which can tell you just how many times you wrote particular words and phrases you tend to overuse.
How can you use NaNoWriMo in class?
NaNoWriMo actually has a Young Writer’s Program(me) and although it’s American and aligned to the Common Core standards it has a lot of great resources and information that you can use in your classroom to get your students writing.
You can even connect with other classes doing NaNoWriMo all over the world!
Some Useful Resources to get started with:
- NaNoWriMo’s Virtual Classroom can help you facilitate with your students such as tracking their progress and can help you connect to other classes all over the world
- There’s an educator’s forum where you can share ideas and get help
- There are workbooks and lesson plans that you can use to get ideas. (Although they’re American a lot of what’s in them is very transferable and some other educators in the forums may already have UK based lesson plans.)
- This word count calculator is really useful. Sometimes you just can’t get your words done on a particular day and this tool helps you adjust your target as needed so you don’t need to panic!
- NaNoWriMo pep talks written by successful authors (including authors who write for children and young adults such as Holly Black) are great for a bit of inspiration. This past one by Neil Gaiman is a particular favourite.
- You can even get help publishing your student’s work when they’re done!
- Downloadables such as this progress poster and these participation and winner certificates.
And there’s loads of BrainPOP UK resources that can help your students if they’re struggling with their writing as well:
- The BrainPOP UK English grammar section.
- Creative Writing Spotlight – a veritable treasure trove of English movies, quizzes, printable resources, and activities to provide you with the essential knowledge and skills for all types of creative writing and storytelling.
- Our Famous Authors and Books section for a bit of inspiration.
- And our ever popular Story Mountain graphic organiser can help students in their planning stage.