Writing...A task that comes from the depths of your soul. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemmingway. I guess for this generation, instead of sitting down at a typewriter it would be your laptop or iPad, but the same basic principle applies. Sit down and humble yourself to an inanimate object that is simply accepting the words that you write, kinda like what I am doing right at this moment. I have been a bibliophile since I was born. I love books. I love to read them, and someday I aspire to write one...maybe more; we'll see how the first one goes! A few years ago I was introduced to an international phenomenon that I had no idea existed... National Novel Writing Month. Truth be told this is now an International experience as people from all over the globe sit down once a year and challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
This epic event happens every November. National Novel Writing Month or nanowrimo for short is quite the adventure. The rules are simple. Your objective is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. There is no editing, spell or grammar checking allowed. The main focus is on volume, boosting your word count and reaching your goal. There they offer support in the form of writing prompts, encouraging emails, if you are on Twitter they have daily word sprints, the resources for ideas are endless. It allows you to track your progress throughout the process. Even if you don't need any inspiration and you are fine on your own, taking a break to read the tweets is an entertaining experience in itself! The whole experience is an incredible adventure, but I am sure you are wondering what happens for the rest of the year? Is this only just a once a year event? The answer to that questions is no! They have two sessions of "Camp" each year called Camp Nanowrimo and these are some of my favorite events of the year.
Camp Nanowrimo is a super exciting, camp themed, writing event that happens twice a year in preparation for the main event. The first is in April and the second in July. As April first is fast approaching I thought it would be fitting to share this experience and encourage you to get signed up! This virtual camping experience comes with Cabin Assignments, Campfires, and Stories of course! Your Cabin assignment can be based on random selection, by genre of writing, or you may even choose to gather a group of friends who are all going to go to Camp together and request a private cabin. Personally, I have been in a cabin with my writing buddy, and also in a public cabin. Both experiences were stellar! The ability to support and cheer on fellow writers in this experience is incredible powerful and inspiring. This April I am in a cabin with strangers, as per the traditional camping experience. Already, via our Cabin message board I can tell that this is an exceptional group of people and we will have fun bonding during our month long writing adventures. Camp is meant to be a supplemental tool to National Novel Writing Month. For some they will be finishing what they started in November, for others, like me, it will be a fresh start with a new story where I start to get acquainted with my characters and a feel for where the story is heading. It is an exciting adventure that I encourage you all to try at least once. As Jack Kerouac once said, "Some day I will find the right words, and they will be simple."
The Young Writers Program is perfect for younger audiences. As an educator I was excited to explore the opportunity of bringing this activity and the love of creative writing into my classroom. I was delighted to discover that there is in fact a Young Writers Program that provides all of the tools and support you could wish for. The dashboard for this program is fun and kid friendly, there is a "Dare Machine" that has random prompts. Today's was to "Write a dream sequence". If you are not feeling that there is a button that allows you to request another Dare until you find one that suits you. Educators can set up a virtual classroom, you can compete with other classes as long as they are signed up for "Classroom Wars" and it also comes with an entire curriculum that is Common Core aligned to help guide you and your students to Novel greatness. I tend to keep the word count low for my middle school students, but they never cease to amaze me. I often have stories that are upwards of 5,000 words by the end of our Noveling adventures in November and they hold me accountable for my word count as well.
Once November 30th has come and gone and you reign victorious with your mad writing skills, what comes next? Well of course the obvious answer is editing and some much needed rest! Your fingers will be SO tired! Whew! However, once the long winters nap is over, and the editing is done, the natural progression is to publish your work. Nanowrimo offers excellent tools and options for assisting with the editing and publishing journey. Personally, I have never made it that far. I have gotten close to finishing, and am confident that THIS IS THE YEAR! But alas, victory is not yet mine. However, I do have a friend, Kimberly Huff, that was successful and went on to self-publish her first novel, How To Assemble A Chicken, which can be purchased through the Amazon Store. She took advantage of the National Novel Writing experience and has even gone on to publish more!
National Novel Writing Month and all of the extra writing opportunities that are provided through this program is an incredibly empowering experience. The staff that organizes and runs this program are some of the most creative and genuine people I have never met. Their email, website, Facebook and Twitter communications showcase a creative, motivated, highly intelligent group of people that are truly passionate about the organization that they work for. I appreciate the delight and adventure that they inspire in my writing and the experience that I get each and every time I join an event. I hope that you will test the waters and join me for Camp Nanowrimo starting in just a few days on Friday, April 1st, 2016! If not I hope to see you in November! Happy Writing!