November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a virtual competition that takes place annually, the goal of which is to complete a 50,000 word novel within the 30 day time frame. The nonprofit organization that created and facilitates this contest (and bears the same name) does so in the hopes of inspiring individuals who may have considered one day writing a novel to finally take the plunge, and by doing so, have a positive impact on communities at large. Their mission statement reads:
National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.
The NaNoWriMo community offers significant resources and support including: word count graphs, forums, advice from authors, get-togethers (both virtual and real-life), kick-off and wrap-up parties, and much more.
Many libraries, including our very own Salt Lake City network, support NaNoWriMo groups. They offer not only space for ‘write-ins’, but will sometimes give away prizes to encourage would-be-novelists. Check with your local branch to see if they participate.
The process is laid out very clearly on NaNoWriMo’s website.
The Young Writer’s Program (YWP) is a subcategory of the contest, but for young writers – especially students. They provide great educator resources including curriculums for different levels and detailed workbooks to assist teachers who would like to involve their class, but may lack experience. Participation has a far-reaching impact on students. Just read this description by one teacher, Lauren Bradley:
There’s the writing, there’s the confidence in their writing. The ability, knowing that they can produce that much writing—the publication. I had them do a lot of reflecting last year on what they got out of it and so many of them it affected the way they read. Reading is so much more interesting to them because they were reading as a writer and noticing the strategies that writers use.
You can find more on Lauren’s experience here.
If you are an educator and have decided that you would like to try NaNoWriMo with your students, here are some possible next steps:
Read the page For Educators on NaNoWriMo’s site, it will give you a good idea of what to expect. Then, get your students accounts set up with the YWP. Parental involvement is not required, but highly encouraged. If you have parents that would like to get involved or are just curious about the process, send them to the families page. After you’ve got all the logistics set up, you’ll want to select a word processor. The website does have a place where participants can write their novel on it that keeps track of their word count. However, it is recommended that the work be completed on an application like Word, Notepad, Pages or a collaborative tool like Google Docs, and then pasted onto the site.
Enhance the Experience with Alexandria
You may not know this, but Alexandria has a ton of useful tools that can really elevate students experience with the NaNoWriMo contest.
Researcher is a handy way for students to search your own library for resources and inspiration. They can also create lists, share them, and place books on hold.
You can set up a Bulletin Board to track your classes’ progress. A separate bulletin for each writer, a bulletin that displays goals, bulletins for writing advice – the possibilites are endless. Teachers, administrators, parents and students all have access to those bulletin boards. Learn more about making lists in Bulletin Board Management here.
Want to experiment with book trailers? Check out this link.
Once the novels are complete, you can add them to your collection! Here’s how:
Once you link the book, written by your own student, it will be searchable in your catalog. Students can find the NaNoWriMo books in the catalog, save them to lists, and even rate them.
Now you should have all the information you need to get started and be sure to visit https://nanowrimo.org for more information about the contest, tons of tools to help you work through your own novel, and details about other programs offered by NaNoWriMo.