My favorite writing season is fall. I love getting back into school routines after a busy summer. By mid-October, life has usually settled down, marching band is over and National Novel Writing Month is just gearing up.
If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo and you write fiction, you may want to check it out. It is the biggest writing contest in the world. It’s free. It’s fun, and at the end of a successful season, you get a cheesy winner’s certificate that you can proudly hang on your office wall. I love it.
So, what is NaNoWriMo? Simply put, it is writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Across the globe, crazy writers pen their first words after midnight on November 1st and finish with “the end” by midnight on November 30th.
In its thirteenth season, NaNoWriMo connects thousands of writers engaged in a single mission. Over the years I have met some of the most amazing writing friends a gal could ask for. I’ve also completed five manuscripts, though last year’s MG novel came in 15,000 words shy of the required word count for me to earn my coveted certificate.
I usually enter November with an idea. It may be a vague sense of plot, a character that (literally) speaks to me and a title. One year, I actually researched my basic theme by reading a few books on the subject matter and interviewing someone. Super smart idea. But I don’t plot and I don’t outline. I’m a pantster. Always have been, always will be.
And that’s okay. What’s important about writing in general, and NaNoWriMo in particular, is the process of getting a story out of our heads and onto paper. Editing has no role in the frenzied pace of NaNo. Purging our thoughts onto the keyboard does.
Which brings me to one of the very best things about NaNoWriMo. They have a program for young Wrimos designed to be used in the classroom or a library setting. It targets skills addressed in curriculums. It offers support and prizes and motivational thingys to get kids excited about writing.
It allows kids to set their own goals and actually use the skills teachers so desperately pound into students’ heads. It taps into their imaginations and allows their creativity to take a break from the torture of learning mechanics by rote memorization. Instead, practical application reigns supreme.
NaNoWriMo is a good thing. And if you’re interested in signing up as a solo writer, please do so here.
If you’re a teacher who thinks outside the box, check out the Young Writer’s Program to see what it can offer the students in your classroom.
And if you have no interest in actually writing yourself, but think the Young Writer’s Program is a great idea, consider donating. I do.