Are you training up a young writer? Or do you want to switch up your writing instruction for a while? You might consider homeschooling NaNoWriMo this year. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, a special opportunity for writers to join a yearly writing competition in November. Many writers struggle with finishing a story because they get stuck editing and re-editing without moving on. Participants are encouraged to leave editing behind and just write. Participating adults must write 50,000 words from November 1 to November 30 at midnight, but children may enter the Young Writer’s Program and set their own word count goals.
How can NaNoWriMo fit into your homeschool?
The BJU Press Writing & Grammar program is excellent for building writing skills and grammatical accuracy, but there’s a difference between testing that knowledge in a graded assignment and letting it loose in novel form. As your budding writer lets her imagination loose on paper, she becomes closely aware of the joys of writing. She’ll also get a sense of accomplishment from reaching her word count, whether she has a goal of 50,000 or 20,000.
But you don’t have to stress about fitting another lengthy learning activity into your homeschool schedule. Though 50,000 words in 30 days averages out to almost 2,000 words a day, as a fiction writer myself, I can tell you that it’s a lot easier to write 2,000 words in a fictional piece than in a literary essay. And since you homeschool, you can put your normal English coursework on hold for the month. Or you can even count the writing your child does towards her final grade in English!
How does NaNoWriMo work?
If you’d like your child to participate in the competition, she may sign up for an account at NaNoWriMo.org, or you may help her sign up for the Young Writer’s Program. Once you’ve set up a profile, your child can create a novel, and starting November 1, she can log how many words she writes each day on the site. If your child finishes 50,000 words by 11:59 pm on November 30, or meets another word goal, you can paste the full text of her novel on the website for a chance to win.
Or if you don’t want to officially participate in the competition, you can follow the rules without creating an account. Perhaps completing the word goal could mean a special dinner or a night out?
How do you prepare for homeschooling NaNoWriMo?
Some participants like to start on November 1 with a brand new novel concept with no development. But if your child wants to participate in NaNoWriMo, she doesn’t have to start from scratch. Here are a few things you can do to prepare.
- Review the writing process with her. Since the goal is writing a whole novel in 30 days, she will spend most of her time drafting. She won’t be able to spend much time at all in the revising, proofreading, and publishing steps. You might consider saving her novel to go back over in the future in order to complete these steps.
- Gather story prompts and share them with her. She can choose a story idea now so that she can start deciding on basic plot details.
- Get a head start on planning. Since the month of November is dedicated to the drafting portion of the writing process, your child can spend the weeks leading up to it on planning. She can work on an outline or fill in a plot pyramid for the major events of her story.
- Practice techniques for busting writer’s block with her. What stops her while she’s writing? Find ways to help her move past those blocks so she knows how to handle them in November.
NaNoWriMo may seem like a daunting task, but in the end, your young writer will have something a lot of other aspiring writers don’t—a start. And with writing, any start is a good start. After meeting her word goal, your young writer will have a better idea of her own writing abilities and potential. Will she decide to take the piece she’s written to the next level? Or will she yearn to complete a bigger goal?