NaNoWriMo 2011 for Teen Writers – Get Your Library Involved!

14 Oct

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Programme LogoNovember is rapidly approaching, and with it the opportunity to engage your teens in a novel writing challenge, NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although given its global participation it could more accurately be called IntNoWriMo. Every year NaNoWriMo challenges tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people to write 50,000 words of a novel over the course of the month. Sound difficult? It is. It’s really hard. But it’s also fun, and crazy, and educational, and exactly the kind of zany challenge that teens who aspire to write can get into.

NaNoWriMo is not about writing the best novel you can, but about simply going ahead and doing it. This egalitarian approach can be pretty encouraging for young people (and, well, adults too) who fear that their attempts at writing will not be “good enough.” NaNoWriMo is NOT about being good; it’s about seeing what happens when you push yourself past those expectations. Sure, there’s some dross, but it’s difficult to write 50,000 words of a novel without at least a few compelling scenes, or hilarious pieces of dialogue, or compelling characters.

The amazing thing about NaNoWriMo (besides its existence), is that it has a whole Young Writers Programme dedicated to encouraging young people to participate. There are already a ton of NaNoWriMo kits and lesson plans for adults who want to encourage local young people to participate. (The website uses American terminology, so click through to the “High School” lesson plans if you’re working with teens!).

Did I mention that writing is a free activity? With loads of pre-set ideas for activities already available on the website? And that you can run these activities with just one staff member? Or that teens can help organise/supervise/run activities themselves? And that teens get so into the challenge that they probably will want to volunteer, if not this year then next year? Not to mention that writing supports and boosts literacy and reading.

Teen NaNoWriMo would make a great library project. Find your local teen writers, or gather them from your library’s reading or writing groups (if you have them). Alternately, this would make a great collaborative project with a school. Why not join in and take a crack at writing 50,000 words yourself?

Do you know any teens who participate in NaNoWriMo? Have you ever run any teen NaNoWriMo programmes at your school or library? Have you ever written 50,000 words in November yourself? I’d be curious to hear your take on all of this.

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