Life, Teaching Writing, Uncategorized, Writer's Life, Writing

“NaNoWriffic” May Have Been An Exaggeration

Now that December’s halfway over, I suppose I can take a minute to stop chasing down students for missing homework (all this teacher wants for Christmas is a nice, tidy gradebook!) and give an update on my November Nanowrimo goals.

Update may not be the best word—it’s more of a confession.

For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, “NaNoWriMo” stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. I’ve participated three times now. I won my first with a full 50,000 words. I won my second, thought I’d adjusted the goal to 40,000.

This year…this year I lost. Failed. Flopped.

As I said when I set my goals before November—30,000 words in the form of three pieces of short fiction—I knew that I was going into NaNo challenge tired. I thought I’d still power through it, but between the temporary death of my laptop (it’s better now!) and other life complications, I did not.

Ugh. While I didn’t have any huge projects that I desperately wanted to get done, I DO hate admitting a failure!

On the bright side, I did make over 18,000 words—I don’t know if any of them are useable, but I’ll dig through them at some point.

On the brighter side, my students, who are the ones that drove me to take the challenge on this year, did an amazing job.

My second graders made over 5,000 words. Not bad for a dozen 8-year-olds, many of whom aren’t huge fans of writing in class. Several worked at home, and several created some great stories and essays.

My 5th and 6th graders made over 50,000 words. As a class, they earned a party day and several individuals made over 5,000 words, earning a new pair of fuzzy socks and a doughnut. 🙂

My 7th and 8th graders had the same incentives as 5th and 6th, and they also rose to the occasion. I had to take one student out of the class word tracker, because she’d made over 50,000 within the first week, and I wanted the others to have to work, too! They didn’t disappoint—two students beat my total, and several were in the 5-6,000 range.

I had wondered what the effects of “Covid school” would be on our Nano Challenge. Last year, we had scheduled time to write in school every day. This year, with only half days for each group of kids (so that we can socially distance and disinfect between groups and all of that) the vast majority of this writing was done on their own time. I was so impressed by how many students took to the challenge and it was a joy to see how proud they were of their achievements!

One of those achievements was the opportunity to embarrass the teacher. Like last year, I promised that if they made their classroom goals I would dress up as an animal of their choice for their class parties. Each group voted, and after the tally, I got to spend 6 class periods dressed up as a blobfish. (Why couldn’t it have been a mammal?) Eventually, I figured out how to rig up a passable costume with a fitted sheet and a built- in mask.

For better or for worse, another year of NaNo has passed. Maybe next year inspiration will find me and I can claim another win. We’ll just have to see! For now, I’m going to direct my creative energies towards Christmas cookie creations.

What about you? Did any of you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you had any writing or reading wins or losses of late?



If you’re interested in some free WWII Christmas fiction, the Second World War Authors Group of which I am a part just released this:

13 thoughts on ““NaNoWriffic” May Have Been An Exaggeration”

  1. When I did my degree in ceramics one of the tutors said that there was no such thing as a mistake – that mistakes are hidden intentions, & whenever I’ve felt I’ve failed I’ve remembered that. I think it can apply to writing too Anne, but why you felt you’d failed beats me, when you have inspired so many children to achieve so much. That to me is SUCCESS written large! I’m just disappointed not to see the full-length blobfish!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww, thanks so much- I was so proud of them!
      Ahhhh the blobfish- our school secretary “caught” my camel picture last year, but this year we’re limiting who goes into what room so I escaped (ahem, I mean sadly missed out on…) a picture 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. December does seem an odd month to suggest people tackle another chore! I guess as a teacher your work pattern is a little different, but I certainly find myself spending LESS time on model building and other hobbies. Even in this season of plague (!) there’s tons of extra stuff to do in December.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Nov. and Dec. are always a scramble- it is a little less this year, but the weird hybrid teaching is not producing any less work, just more complications! I keep trying to think of a month that would work better, though, and haven’t found one yet- seems like there is always something. So, I can’t feel too badly about missing my numbers- but I’m proud of the kids!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t written a whole lot new lately, especially when it comes to the sequel to my first book. But this year’s big highlights were poetry and short story publications in a number of different anthologies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You could have counted all your grading of papers, comments, assessment notes–that would have put you well over 50,000 I suspect. Just add it as a ‘goal’. Love how your student participated!

    And love that anthology. Gorgeous cover. I’m going to include it in an anthology review I do in January.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hee hee hee! Well, a blob fish will at least be…comfortable? 🙂 I know it’s a bummer when we can’t meet our own goals, but I know your teachery heart must be bursting–it sounds like your students positively thrived with their work, and THAT is a lovely Christmas blessing, indeed! xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was, and honestly, my current MS characters are taking up too much of my attention to get too excited about any new fictional friends. I think it’s amazing that people can work on 10 stories at a time. I seem to only be able to really get into one….
      So proud of those kids, though xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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