By Deborah McNemee
What in the world is NaNoWriMo? Is that even a word? If it is a word, how do I pronounce it? If I can’t pronounce it, why would I want to partake in it?
Just like its unique title, NaNoWriMo can bring on skepticism, curiosity, and fun.
By the way, it’s pronounced nan/oh/rye/mo. Think Mork and Mindy’s nanu nanu with sort of a twist. If that’s not enough to convince you of its fun factor, you should also know that it stands for National Novel Writing Month. What isn’t fun about that?
NaNoWriMo.org explains the program this way:
“NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds on and off the page.”
A more practical description is that NaNoWriMo is an online community that facilitates your writing goals. Every November, writers around the world join to motivate and support one another. A lot of writers use it as a words-on-paper sprint, as the official NaNoWriMo goal is 50,000 words in thirty days. However, members can also set their own monthly, weekly, or daily goals. Whatever the goal is, NaNoWriMo provides all the support you need to get ‘er done. There’s an online tracker and digital rewards along the way to help you stay motivated. You’ll find pep talks. You can join geographic or genre based communities. Oh, and if you hit a snag in your writing, you won’t stay stuck. They offer writer’s block busters to take care of that.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. (This is where the skepticism sets in.) The idea of writing 50,000 words in thirty days is daunting. For some teachers, even the idea of writing everyday is daunting. I hear you. I agree. However, think of those moments in your classrooms when the energy was palpable. Everyone was engaged and united in a goal. Sometimes, the outcome was remarkable. Sometimes, though, the goal wasn’t quite met. Was the energy and engagement any less exciting? Were lessons still learned? Was motivation still moving? Were memories made?
If you’ve been longing for an escape, join us. If you want to try something new, join us. If you are curious, skeptical, fun-loving, daring, join us. You never know what might come of it. After all, NaNoWriMo is responsible for the drafts of novels that were later published, such as Water for Elephants and Fangirl. Honestly, though, even if no big publishing deal comes of it, we all know the benefits of daily writing. If nothing else, join us for the camaraderie.
Or do it to set an example.
NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program
In addition to their adult program, NaNoWriMo also has a program for students. In fact, NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program curriculum is taught in over 5,920 classrooms. Young writers have a goal of 30,000 words in a month. However, just like their adult counterparts, they can choose any word count to work towards. The Young Writers Program curriculum comes with a free downloadable workbook and teacher instructions. For about ten bucks, you can purchase a classroom kit that includes a writer's emergency pack, motivational stickers, and a progress poster.
KATE member Amanda Little uses the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program curriculum in her highschool ELA classes. Make sure to attend her breakout session at 3:00 on Friday, November 5th at the Fall KATE Conference. She’s saving all the best teacher tips and tricks to share with you there.
KATE Writing Group - Online Writing Sprints
Maybe you are thinking that this all sounds very intriguing but you aren’t quite ready to dive into the deep end this year. No problem. KATE has a compromise for you.
For the month of November, KATE is hosting a series of online writing sprints. Writing sprints are exactly what they sound like. We meet via Zoom, set the timer, and write. We’ll provide prompts for those who need it, but feel free to write whatever is on your mind or heart. These sprints are for all KATE members whether or not you are participating officially in NANoWriMo.The sprints will happen on Sunday evenings at 7:00, November 7, 14, and 21st. Sign up for Zoom access on the KATE website.
For more information about NaNoWriMo, go to NaNoWriMo.org For the Young Writers Program, go to ywp.nanowrimo.org.
About the Author
Deborah McNemee teaches at Andover Central High School where a culture of reading is alive and well. She creates a culture of reading with her students by annually hosting a project based event in partnership with Big Read Wichita. She facilitates a writing culture through encouraging involvement with the NaNowriMo Young Writers Program and submitting student work to Voices of Kansas. She is also the author of Just Daisy: A Gatsby Retelling, a modern YA retelling of The Great Gatsby from Daisy's point of view. Her favorite books to read outside of school are classics. Check out her blog about keeping classics relevant for kids at www.KeepingClassics.com.
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