November’s lurking just around the corner, cracking its knuckles and waiting to pounce.
A little melodramatic? Maybe. But I can’t help viewing the turning of the calendar page with some trepidation.
Between school and home, September and October have gone by in a whirlwind— momming and teaching and correcting and cooking and driving and writing and (sometimes) house cleaning—until I think I’ve forgotten how to just be still. This last week—our Fall Break—I edited 20 chapters of my novel, which turned into rewriting one pivotal chapter because I made a research mistake in the early drafts and I had my characters in the wrong location. (ARGH!) But I haven’t time to fix all of that because I still need to prep the next month’s lessons and my kids are getting antsy because I’ve been distracted and I need to spend some time with them and…
Readers and friends, I am so tired.
Tired or no, November is still coming. And with it, NaNoWriMo.
For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Writers around the globe challenge themselves to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The official NaNo site is dedicated to tips, training, and tracking writer goals.
However, weeks ago, my Reading students asked me, “Are we going to do that writing thing—NaNoWriMo—again this year?” As I still had some energy at that point, I responded with an enthusiastic affirmative. They were so excited.
Last year, my 5th and 6th grade class and I did a NaNoWriMo challenge together. I aimed to write 40,000 words on my own, and they tried to beat me, writing 50,000 words together as a class. Both my students who enjoyed writing already and my reluctant writers pitched in, and the excitement as they watched their word count grow was fantastic.
Of course, they had other incentives, too. I offered prizes for individual writing goals met, and, if the class met their goal as a whole, I promised them a class party…at which I would dress up as an animal of their choice.
It seemed like they enjoyed it last year, but their excited anticipation this year surprised me a little. For some kids, the draw is probably a chance to embarrass the teacher. (There’s already been speculation about which animal they’ll pick “when” they win this year.) Prizes like fuzzy socks and a break from the everyday routine are always nice, too. But I have some kids who thrive on writing—a couple who could probably manage 50,000 words on their own—and for the rest, if offering some little incentives gets them to try something new, to push themselves, well…I guess I’m embracing the craziness once again.
In the interest of sanity I’ll be adjusting goals a bit. I’m teaching Reading to 2nd, 5th and 6th AND 7th and 8th grade students this year (all split into two sections each for social distancing) and I’m working out attainable goals for each group.
I also don’t think I have a full 50,000 word novel in me just now, so I’m adjusting my personal goal to three short stories of 10,000 words each. That’ll make 30,000 words total, or 1,000 new words written a day.
What about you, Readers and Writers? Are any of you taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge? Do you have other goals this fall?
Whatever challenges you’re tackling, I’m wishing you all the best!