Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Home for the Holidays: NaNoWriMo

by Douglas Grudzina

It looks as if another Holiday Season is almost upon us. First there’s Halloween in only a few short days, and then … on the very next day … we finally have …

… we’ve waited all year for it …

on November 1 …

… (wait for it) …

the First Day of …

… (wait for it) …

The First Day of …

… NaNoWriMo!!!!!

[thunderous applause, huzzahs, and maybe a drum-roll and fanfare]

Yes, our dear, dear friends at the Office of Letters and Light are pleased to announce another “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”

(By now you do know that November was National Novel Writing Month, right?—RIGHT?)

Anyone can enter. Everyone can play. The goal is to write a novel—175 pages or 50,000 words—between November 1 and November 30.

The rules are really very simple: novels can be on any theme, in any genre, and in any language. Format and structure are completely up to the author. Metafiction, post-modernist chaos, use of trademarked characters—anything goes. As the NaNoWriMo site says, “If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too.”

The competition starts on midnight November 1. From day 1, participants are allowed to update their word count and post excerpts of their opus for others to read. Completed novels can be uploaded to the NaNoWriMo site beginning November 25. All winners—those who have managed to write 50,000 words in the month (and there are rules excluding simply repeating the same word 50,000 times—receive a PDF certificate, a “web badge,” and inclusion on the site’s “Winners Page.”

But as they say, “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”

As teacher’s, we’re always looking for “authentic” opportunities for our students to write. We’re always trying to make the composition process less a chore and more an opportunity. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!

If I were still in the classroom, I’d have every one of my students register and participate. According to the NaNoWriMo web site, last year 2,000 schools participated and 3,074,068,446 words (that’s over THREE BILLION words …) were officially logged during the 30-day spree.

They still offer their “Young Writers Program” especially for writers under the age of 17 and working alone or working in a K-12 classroom setting.
T.S. Eliot might whine that April is the cruelest month, but we all know that November is the coolest month.

So … another holiday season is almost upon us.

How are you and your students going to celebrate?

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