I was interested to see this article in the Raleigh News & Observer last week: Novel Writing Mission a Success: Apex teen crafts schi-fi book as part of one-month challenge.
Not only was this fourteen-year old able to meet daily word counts as part of the annual writing project, but he was able to extend, complete, and then publish his story.
National Novel Writing Month, and its offshoot, National Blog Posting Month (otherwise known as NaBloPoMo), take place every November. Every year, tens of thousands of people take up the challenge to write daily, either for blogs or on a novel manuscript. The challenge pushes the participants to keep writing, even when inspiration dries up.
When I have participated in NaBloPoMo in previous years, I always started out with a few ideas to write about, then hit a wall when nothing inspired me. The point of the daily writing, though, is not so much to write beautifully crafted work (although that’s great too), but to keep writing even when you are not inspired. Some posts turn out nicely, and others are simply finished and posted. It’s an experience in perseverance. As writer Daniel Colvin says,
“Writing is like exercising. You got to do it often and it’s not always divine.”
The Novel Writing version sets a daily word count target and offers targets writing focuses, such as fleshing out characters and setting up conflicts in the plot. NaNoWriMo, and its Young Writers Program may be an even better choice for younger writers as it offers a finished result with lots of support. It’s worth learning that sometimes one has to to produce a bad draft to get to a better draft.
Given my past experiences, I was excited to see that this young man took the project all the way to actual (limited) publication. This offers inspiration to other young and old writers, and to teachers as well.
Imagine your students writing daily. Imagine them focused and persevering. Writing for a goal helps keep them excited and motivated, even when inspiration is in short supply. There’s nothing like a goal to help move them along. Using Web 2.0 tools such as a blog or class wiki can only support this kind of daily writing. There’s also a community of other writers working along side your students. It can be fun and encouraging to be part of a larger project.
Have any of you undertaken a daily writing project, either for yourself or with your students? I’d love to hear about it.