boy writting

This is part four of a four part blog. Last week, I gave away my essential NaNoWriMo survival tips. This week, I’m going to take a look at how intensive writing programmes can help children to develop their imagination, confidence, and ability.

I did it. I won. As is NaNoWriMo tradition, I have to share my 50,000th word. It was garlic. Yeah. I know.

The past month has been an amazing motivational opportunity; NaNoWriMo has inspired tens of thousands of people to pluck up the courage to write. What’s more awe-inspiring is the number of young writers the event has helped to create; more children than ever before are getting involved.

Young Writers’ Programme
Unlike the adult writing programme, the Young Writers’ Programme (or, if you’re American, the Young Writers Program) lets writers set their own word-count goals.

If you’re an educator, you can sign up to the site and get full access to their free classroom resources, create a virtual classroom, and enroll your students. Next November may seem a long way away, but it’s a good idea to start thinking about this now. Remember that Camp NaNoWriMo is only a few months away! You can read more about the Younger Writers’ Programme here.

The best thing about the Young Writers’ Programme is that it’s completely free. There’s no reason not to get your class involved.

If you’ve benefitted from any aspect of NaNoWriMo this year – whether you took part or not – you should really consider donating. A donation of just $20 (around £16) will pay for a classroom kit for 35 young novelists. This includes a word count chart, stickers, buttons, and a writer emergency pack full of great ideas for their writing. You could help to kick-start 35 young imaginations to create something amazing.

Donations also pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the NaNoWriMo website and forums.

Online community
There’s an entire community out there dedicated to helping you – and your students – to build a mini-universe. There are a number of moderated “all ages welcome” sub-forums on the NaNoWriMo site, including one for teenage writers.

Anything can seem possible when you have a thousands-strong fraternity behind you. Perhaps more importantly, being part of a community of like-minded peers empowers children with a sense of belonging and inclusion that can sometimes be absent from their school life.

Pep talks
Sometimes, something – anything – is more interesting than sitting down and banging out a couple thousand words. I know that I’ve faltered several times over the past month. Maybe my cat was lonely and needed to talk to me. He’s had a lot on his plate recently. You mean to say there’s a Saved By The Bell wiki?! How could I possibly sit down and write without first reading every single page?

On one memorable occasion, my house got cleaned and scrubbed to within an inch of its life. I still don’t think the carpets have forgiven me.

If you think you’re good at dithering and dallying, a class full of children will put you to shame; they’re procrastination experts. You might feel like you need to build up an arsenal of inspiring quotes before next year’s Novel Writing Month, or none of your class will be interested!

Thankfully, there’s a series of excellent pep talks from established authors on the NaNo site to help spur you all on. My personal favourite is by Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events; it’s a fast-talking lesson in whimsy, false negativity, and bizarre metaphor. Just make sure you stop reading at some point, and transfer that energy into action.

It’s time to start thinking ahead to next year. November might seem a long way away right now, but trust me: it’ll sneak up on you fast. If your class pantsed their novels this year (look back at Part 2 of this blog series to learn about pantsers), you might want to mix things up a bit and get them planning their next novel.

Alternatively, if they’re anything like me, they could try just jumping into it with only the vaguest notion of a story as inspiration.

This is the final part of a four part series. Click here for part 1.

Are you thinking about introducing your class to NaNoWriMo? Maybe they took part this year, and you have a story to share? Let us know by commenting below, or getting in touch with us on social media.

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