Princess and I are going to try out NaNoWriMo this year. For those who aren’t familiar with the idea, this is National Novel Writing Month. Your goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. It’s going to be the change-up for her independent project for this month, and here’s how to use NaNoWriMo in homeschool, or at least how we’re going to.
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First, Preptober, or preparing to use NaNoWriMo in our homeschool
Sit down with your teen and talk through your plans and what her (I’m going to use female pronouns since I’m doing this with my daughter) goals are for this. Princess plans to be an author, and she wants to strive for the adult goal of 50,000 words in a month.
I’m suggesting she look at how many words she can write in 25 or 50 minutes (that’s equivalent to one or two subjects in our school schedule) in one day, and then multiply it out by 30. She just did this yesterday (I’m writing this over several days, October is kind of crazy right now, I know ths is a total shock to regular readers, I’ve never said that before), and wrote 550 words in 25 minutes. That means, she has a goal of 16,550 word minimum. I’m going to challenge her to up this to 18,000.
So, pick your plan.
Next, head over to NaNoWriMo Young Writers, and sign up. This is Princess’ next step, which hopefully will happen today.
Then at the top of their website click on Resources for students. They’ve got workbooks for every age range. Princess will be printing out the high school level book, though I’m tempted by the middle school book because it can be filled out on Google Docs, but Princess prefers print copies, so I will probably print off the book for her (and maybe myself, I’m still looking it over).
And for us homeschool moms looking to figure out how to use NaNoWriMo in our homeschool, there is a curriculum to look through on the NaNoWriMo educator resource page. It’s got a step by step on how to prepare for it, and in all honesty, we’re playing a bit of catch up.
Look for NaNoWriMo meetups in your area, Princess and I went to one for a local Christian Writing group a friend of mine recommended on Facebook. They recommended No Plot? No Problem, and when I was looking around a bit more I found a kit version with a few extra bells and whitles on it.
I particularly liked the step by step ideas for creating background and preparation for your characters and world in this post and will adapt some of its ideas.
Resources I’ve found helpful as I organized our plans for NaNoWriMo in our homeschool
While there are a lot of tips and tricks for writing NaNoWriMo as an adult, there aren’t very many for how to use NaNoWriMo in your homeschool. I particularly enjoyed reading these two posts, and of the half dozen written from that perspective, found these two to be the most useful.
- NaNoWriMo in Homeschool High School– This has lots of suggestions for recording on your transcript
- Scheduling Time for NaNoWriMo– Heather is the reason I first found out about NaNoWriMo, and I’ve watched her kids try this off and on for years.
I’ve also put together (and am still adding to these playlists), two YouTube playlists on writing.
I accidentally created two playlists, I’m not quite sure what the difference is between the two, so they may be merged into one. I’ve got quite a few channels I follow that talk about the craft of writing, so that’s another part I may add in later (though this is turning into quite the tome by itself).
Succeeding at NaNoWriMo in your homeschool
This section will be updated as Princess and I find more of what works for us.
Know how you write. Many people participate in Write-Ins, and I talked with Princess if she wanted to try one. You get together with other writers and participate in writing sprints to write as fast as you can for 20 minutes and then compare notes.
We both agreed occasionally going to an event like that could be encouraging. We talked about setting one up, and who might show up. It’s been an interesting discussion for the two of us the past couple of days.
This is obvious, but schedule time. We plan to schedule one hour every day. My other two children will also be more intentional and intense with their independent projects.
<Skip if you’re not curious what I’m doing with the other kids>
My chef will be cooking every day or working on specific cooking skills (cutting or prepping for meals), and my engineer will either finish 42 electronics because he lost his way for a bit and right now in October is trying to finish the last few lessons (I want to complete semester 2 next semester) and then move on to modding Minecraft. Right now he is very interested in video game programming.
<Done with my side trail>
The goal this month is just to write. Not to create the best work ever. For grading, I am not grading her based on quality, but consistency. The most successful authors write consistently.
Talk about it
It’s discouraging to write alone. I’m totally honest, the lack of interest in seeing what I did is why I quit scrapbooking. It wasn’t truly a passion, and why I love sewing so much more because I can easily show off what I did.
Support your child and make sure you spend time each week reading what they wrote.
There will be days your kids is struggling to find something to write about. Here are a couple of things I plan on having on hand to help her write:
- Mad Libs– sometimes silly writing can help
- Magnetic Poetry Kit– Sometimes an unusual word can inspire you,
- Once Upon a Time– pictures to inspire, I actually collect unusual pictures, and give them to kids as story prompts
What other tips would you give for using NaNoWriMo in homeschool?
Also, if you don’t hear from me much for the next month, you’ll know why.