NaNoWriMo: A Novel Way To Get Writing!
Sponsored by Time4Writing.com
Get your writing tools ready, because November is NaNoWriMo! If you’re feeling a bit baffled right now, you’re not alone. “NaNoWriMo” is a fun way to shorten “National Novel Writing Month;” but it’s also a “501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”
NaNoWriMo provides a great way for your children to get their own stories on paper; and, who knows, maybe they’ll begin something that will be a hit—or at least a memory that they can share with friends and their children when they grow older. You might be thinking, “My child can’t write a whole novel in a single month!” But, believe it or not, there are over 100,000 writers under the age of 18 who participate in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program every year.
Get Psyched for Writing
If your children have never taken part in NaNoWriMo, that’s not a problem at all. There are plenty of resources available for you and your children online. A good place to start is the NaNoWriMo website; but if you prefer doing this on your own, that’s fine, too. Here are some things you can have your kids do to get psyched up for this adventure.
- Brainstorm ideas. Let your imagination loose!
- Decide what medium to use. Are you using a computer or pencil and paper?
- Write character sketches or draw pictures of your characters.
- Create a comic strip with dialogue from two characters. This helps develop characters and it’s a great dialogue writing practice.
Don’t worry, you’re not getting left out! You can help keep your kids motivated by creating a system of milestones with rewards for achieving them. Whether you choose to set goals for a certain number of words per day for younger writers, or include goals for all of the planning steps and research for older writers, having a set target to work towards can make writing feel manageable for your kids. You can also connect with other homeschoolers and students who are participating. Having others their own age to work with and bounce ideas off of can make writing even more fun for your students. Plus, you might awaken a bit of a competitive spirit!
Forget About the Rules and Have Fun
NaNoWriMo not only encourages writing, but it also encourages a good time! But your kids might not have much fun if they keep worrying about every little spelling or grammar mistake. That’s why many experts insist that our aspiring writers throw out their “inner editors.” The polishing and editing will come after they get everything out in the open. To add to the fun and provide some inspiration, ask your kids to do some of the following:
- Read your stories aloud and share ideas.
- Draw pictures of the different characters and scenes in the novel.
- Hang inspirational pictures around the classroom. Dragon story=dragon picture!
- Read books or watch movies that are the same genre to help generate ideas.
- Listen to music that sets the mood for the current scene.
With an environment that’s conducive to writing, there’s a good chance your kids will be excited about writing their novel. Sometimes, it’s good to let them get a little messy and break the rules! This is an exercise in getting a story down on paper—it’s not a language arts lesson. Even if you’re not working on editing with your kids, you can still participate in the writing process. Take part in a question and answer time each day where you can ask questions about the ongoing story, and your children can give creative answers about what will happen next. Editing can happen after the novel is finished. You’ll be able to get a clear picture of which writing lessons will be the biggest help for your students and will be able to make sure to focus on them going forward. You may even find that your student would benefit from dedicated writing instruction like the online writing courses from Time4Writing. They’re great to keep in mind for upcoming writing lessons.
Keep Your Kids Motivated
Don’t be surprised if your students get frustrated at times, especially if they’re tired or just running out of ideas. It’s perfectly normal and happens at all grade levels—even for professional writers! Maintaining the writing pace for a whole month is difficult and it might wear on your kids, but you can help to provide some balance with these ideas.
- Keep nutritious snacks readily available for your kids.
- Make certain they get exercise during the day. Just sitting and writing might bore them.
- Encourage your kids to get plenty of sleep during this month.
- Help your kids stay motivated with positive feedback.
- Let your kids hang out with friends for the afternoon.
- Get out of the house. Go to the park or have lunch at a local restaurant.
Even though this is a serious challenge, having fun and celebrating the experience will keep your kids coming back for more. Now that you have some ideas on how to celebrate NaNoWriMo, join the celebration this year and encourage your kids to imagine, create, and write!