As I relax in my bedroom, I can hear laughter from the next room; one of the kids is reading what she has written so far for National Novel Writing Month.
Every year in November aspiring authors take the challenge of writing a novel in just one month. I have known about this phenomenon for years, but my husband presented it to our kids this year and challenged them to write their own novels. Surprisingly, my 4 school-aged kids are doing exactly that. Even my husband is getting in on the action by writing his life story.
My 11-year-old twins have had excellent preparation for this project. This year they have been using a creative writing curriculum, Reach for the Stars, to learn about developing characters, identifying the main conflict for their story, and outlining the plot. I also have copies of the official NaNoWriMo Middle School workbook for them, but I don’t believe either one has cracked it open yet. It includes much of the same information as the curriculum they’ve been using, though in a more formal manner. In addition, it contains a section to help kids publish their novels. My twins are shooting for a 20,000-25,000 word novel, so they are each writing about 700 words per day.
The twins were concerned that they might not be able to continue writing during our upcoming Thanksgiving trip to Colorado. My husband showed them that they can use their phone with a portable wireless bluetooth keyboard to continue writing even when we’re on the move!
My 13-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son have not used any special creative writing curriculum and told me they didn’t want workbooks to help them out. My daughter started out writing her story in a composition book and quickly ran into problems. The flying sea turtles she included really didn’t fit into the type of writing she knew she should be doing. She also realized that at approximately 150 words per page, she’d overflow the composition book pretty quickly on her quest for 40,000+ words! Today she started over - this time on her seldom-used computer. She reached 730 words so far. My son is plugging right along as well and has written over 3300 words of his novel. I really can’t wait to see how their stories turn out.
One of the biggest challenges most writers have is turning off their internal editor. As I write, I tend to read over and correct the sentence I’m writing and even earlier sentences as I try to get it all out the best that I can the first time. This practice is a big no-no for NaNoWriMo! The kids don’t need to worry about grammar, spelling, correct wording, etc. as they grind out the first draft of their novels. Next month, they can work on improving those areas. For now, they just get to write, write, write!