There is only a week or so left in October, and that means National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner.
NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge for people to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (November 1st through 30th). It comes out to 1,667 words per day of pace. The general idea is to get yourself into a daily writing habit, and in that sense, you can “win” whether you make the 50K or not.
I first came to NaNoWriMo through a teacher friend of mine, who said I should get my students to try it. I looked into it and thought “Yeah, this would be a cool extra credit opportunity.” I told them about it, and they asked if I was going to do it, and I said “Sure.” I ended up winning that year, and even though none of my students did, I was hooked.
I believe that all teachers could benefit from the NaNoWriMo challenge for the following reasons.
Practice What You Preach
We stand in front of our kids every day and encourage them to write. You talk about the importance of putting words to page, reflecting on their learning, the editing process, the research process, and so on and so on. How many of us though actually put our money (and time) where our mouth is?
If we expect our students to believe in the power of writing, then we need to do our writing as well. This is critical to showing our students that we actually mean it. I can tell you, from my experience, that when students find out that I’ve written a book, they are more engaged in the writing process, are more likely to write in meaningful ways for me.
Build Your Tribe
One of the best things about NaNoWriMo (besides the writing) is the community support. Every year, writers come out in droves to events throughout the country. Each part of the country is divided into regions through the NaNo website, and each region has a Municipal Liaison who plans events throughout the month and organizes a calendar of other smaller events as well. These events are a great way to meet other writers in the area, and make new friends.
Students Will Push You
So many of us have had the thought “I could write a book,” or “I have a book in my head.” NaNoWriMo pushes you to put the actual words on the page. The daily challenge, and community support, make it so much harder to slack off and not do it. There’s just too much guilt if you don’t.
As a teacher, you can take that pressure even further. Explain how it works to your students, tell them about the process. Then, tell them you’re doing it, and encourage them to join you. And, as a last step, write on a corner of your whiteboard your word count (starting at 0). Once November 1st rolls around, update your board-word count daily, and include where your pace should be to make it. The first day you fall under that pace, your students will hound you about it. Now you have to catch back up!
You’re in…now what?
Well, if you want more information about what NaNoWriMo is and how you do it, I ran a session on NaNo a few weeks ago, and through my regional Facebook page, we recorded it. So, if you have an hour and want to watch me talk all about NaNo, view that here.
If you don’t want to watch an hour of video and would prefer to read about the challenge, checkout NaNoWriMo.org for more details.
Lastly, if you’re going to be taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, let me know! Reach out on Twitter and say you’re in. I have some super things going on with my region I will make sure you are aware of.