I had a great morning yesterday, visiting a class of Writer’s Craft students at a local high school. I talked with them for an hour about publishing: different ways to get your work published, some warnings, some resources and some facts about the money side of the business. The time flew and the class was attentive and asked good questions. I hadn’t visited the school before, but I was made very welcome. I was a bit early and while I waited for the teacher to meet me, without exception every teacher that passed me smiled and said good morning. That doesn’t happen everywhere.
In the course of talking about writing resources with the teacher after the class, I mentioned National Novel Writing Month. She teaches a course in the first semester that would overlap NaNoWriMo’s dates, and I thought it might be fun for her students to explore. NaNoWriMo has a fantastic program for young writers with lots of excellent resources for the writers and for teachers who might want to get their classes involved.
So this got me to thinking about this coming November. Will I join NaNo and try to write a novel in 30 days? The first time I attempted NaNo, I stopped around 20,000 words. I was happily writing a suspense/romance and enjoying just letting the story go where it may, when I realized that if I could write 20,000+ words in a couple of weeks, why wasn’t I writing the book I had wanted to write for several years? Duh. So, I stopped the novel and finished Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, instead. My 13-year-old son finished his NaNo novel with 50,000+ words and a lot of pride. The second time, just as we started NaNo, my much-loved mother-in-law began a swift and deadly decline due to pancreatic cancer.
There’s a unique quality about NaNo that seems to crack through something in me that just gets words on the page. Maybe it’s because the objective is so absurd that the writing can’t be overthought or second-guessed, and I don’t put up my usual procrastination roadblocks because I need to post a number every night. Yup. Seeing that graph head upwards really motivates me.
Have you tried NaNoWriMo? What do you think about the experience? Are you thinking of signing up this year? If you’re a teacher, have you ever used the resources or used NaNoWriMo with your class?