NaNoWriMo begins today

For those of you who would love to write a novel but never knew you could, National Novel Writing Month begins today (or yesterday, technically – but it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon).

National Novel Writing Month starts every November 1 and runs though November 30. I wrote a “novel in a month” several years ago in August (I chose the summer given the demands of Brave Writer during the school year). It turned out to be one of the most satisfying and enjoyable writing experiences of my life. A Brave Writer mom, Ellen, sent me a note to share about how she modified the expectations of NaNoWriMo last year to suit her daughter’s current writing level. I’m inspired! Certainly some of you may wish to try the same with your kids (any month of the year!). By the way, “winning” in NaNoWriMo means finishing the month and getting all those words written.

My almost-9-year-old daughter just won NaNoWriMo! I offered her a month off from narration, copywork, dictation, and any other writing assignments if she wanted to try it. She enjoyed filling in the novel planning workbook during October. Toward the end of October, we looked at the word count recommendations on the NaNoWriMo website and set a goal of 4000 words for her, with a daily goal of 175 words. That was more words than she’d ever written at one time.

On November 1, she was a little intimidated by the blank page in front of her, so my husband helped her with an opening line. After that, there was no looking back, and we were both surprised that her first day’s writing produced over 200 words! Some days she knew exactly what she wanted to write, and some days there was a lot of pencil tapping and sighing, but she stuck with it.

We talked about her novel between writing sessions, about ways to get unstuck (just skip over or sum up the boring parts), about the relationships between characters. We noticed how other authors handled the passage of time in our read-alouds. Tonight we uploaded the first 4000 words of her novel into the NaNoWriMo word count validator and celebrated her win. She wants to keep working on her novel until she finishes the story, since 4000 words barely introduced the main characters and problem.

My husband asked her if she learned anything about writing and her first response was, “I learned that writing can be exciting if it’s something I want to write about!” I thought that was a great lesson to have learned.

Ellen Horner

So give it a a whirl. And let us know in the comments if you’re doing it so we can cheer you on!

3 Responses to “NaNoWriMo begins today”

  1. I’m planning to finish the novel I started in NaNoWriMo last year. I wrote my 50,000 words but didn’t finish my story. So this time I hope to complete the story. And I have never considered myself a fiction writer. Ever. I write academic-y, well-researched articles and essays and a little poetry now and then. Not novels. Never a novel.

    Until NaNoWriMo. Last year I started on November 4 and finished on the 28th, so it can be done starting late. I did 30 minutes of planning and note-taking and then jumped into it, freewriting all the way. Rereading it as I have been all day in preparation to start writing, it’s in better shape than I thought it was. I’m getting really excited about getting back to writing.

    That feeling of “winning” — of hitting that 50,000 word goal within 30 days — is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. And definitely the best writing feeling I’ve experienced.

    It’s too cool. I can’t encourage you enough to do it or persuade your kids to do it. One of my co-op writing students is tackling it this year, too, so it’s wonderful to have friends along the way.

    Do it. Have fun. Just do it.

  2. Kristen says:

    NaNoWriMo is so cool! It was Julie’s blog post way back that got me started in the first place … going into my 5th year now, and my 2nd grader is on his 3rd year. We both have a blast.

    Don’t let the mid-month slump get you down … press on and victory will be yours! (Even if it’s a lot of rambling … you never know what gems it might turn up upon rereading.)

  3. I once signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo some years ago. I’d learned that it could be done by using a blog. I still have that blog, but I’ve shelved the project for another day.

    There are similar communities that do similar projects during November. One that I’m participating in (yeah, like I need another project, huh?) is called National Podcast Post Month (NaPodPoMo):

    I’m releasing daily video updates where I practice answering job interview questions. If you’d like to check it out, the website is

    Thank you, Kristen (comment above mine), for the encouragement to keep on going. It’s tiresome, and I’ll be glad when I’m done, and, as I’ve heard said: the journey is the destination.