This year my goal for NaNo is to add 30K more words to my current WIP. Why not 50K? Even though I’m writing faster each year, 1100-1400 words/day is usually my average. Before I tried the National Novel Writing Month though, 300 words/day was my average (which is why, among other reasons, it took me 2 years to finish my first novel).
Again this year, I’m working with two 8th grade classes as they set goals and lay down words every day. Last year those two classes met and exceeded their goals, sometimes by as much as another 50%! The free resources provided for the Young Writers Program of NaNo are invaluable. If you want to teach long-form fiction, this is a fantastic place to start. Free resources for adult writers can be found at nanowrimo.org.
Why do I love NaNoWriMo so much and why do I promote it? One of the things I’ve been saying to my teaching colleagues lately is that writing needs to be a classroom routine, not a classroom event. The blogs and author pep talks provided (for free) by NaNoWriMo are what began to shape my understanding of my own routine and why it was important. Nearly every professional, multi-published writer advocates for having a writing routine (Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Elizabeth Gilbert come to mind). So let me connect those dots. First, teachers shape the classroom routines for writing and help students think about what works for them. Then, student writers have tools and models to figure out their own writing routines to carry forward into new school years and beyond.
If you don’t like the word routine, how about process? Waiting for the muse to visit you is not a replicable process. But showing up to your desk every day, for a certain amount of time or words, is.