Our Experience with National Novel Writing Month
When a homeschooling friend of mine suggested that my sons join her son to participate in National Novel Writing Month a few years ago, I wasn’t sure how to respond. My boys do not read novels for pleasure, and writing assignments have always been met with strong protests. However, since it seemed like a great opportunity for my boys to try something challenging and educational, I convinced them to give it a try. Plus, I suspected that learning something new with their friend would be fun.
Prior to this, I was unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. After some research, I learned that NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that supports writers. It began in 1999 as a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. They provide the tools and support to help you get the first draft of your novel written. Not only is NaNoWriMo for adults, it’s also for kids. Their Young Writers Program provides resources and lesson plans, from prewriting through publishing, for writers in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Over the course of several weeks, our families met to do NaNoWriMo. My friend led the boys on their writing journeys with the help of the curriculum. They experimented with writing styles and developed characters. They learned about setting and plot. They shared their story development with each other and shared meaningful discussions. I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it. By the end of their time together, their stories had begun to take shape. Although they didn’t come anywhere close to finishing their stories or writing the first draft of a novel, they did learn quite a bit and had fun doing it. I was thankful that my friend had suggested NaNoWriMo and was willing to lead the boys.
Encouraging your children to write a novel may not be something you have ever thought about before now. However, I think you should consider it. The resources are available to help you, and it will be time well spent. The skills that your children will learn can be applied to any writing that they do in the future. You may even find that you have a budding author on your hands. If your children are reluctant writers like mine were, try joining another family like we did to do NaNoWriMo. Perhaps you’ll also want to give it a try yourself. Have you ever thought about writing a novel? Even if you’ve only written a few hundred or a few thousand words by the end of November, that will still be more than you started with and it may give you the motivation to keep going with the story. Happy writing!
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer and editor. Her background includes professional teaching in the area of mathematics, as well as writing and editing for several educational publishers. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons on her website, SharedLessons.org.