As many of you know, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year, with my teens for homeschool. I've seen a lot of the writing programs that are out there and each have their merits but NaNo offers something more valuable, I think. It gives you experience. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.
The goal is to write a 50K word novel in thirty days. Of course it won't be perfect, it will obviously be a first draft but it wll actually be a draft instead of a wish in the back of your mind. That boils down to 1667 words per day of fiction. And you do this for 30 days. Editing is not allowed so once that word is on the paper, you may not erase it until December!
Last year Elizabeth and I stayed up until midnight on October 31st and had a NaNo party with hot chocolate and our trusty pens and keyboard. Each of us, Molly, too, finished our novels by the end of November. Molly's was done and only needed editing. Her's was a horror romance. Elizabeth is still working on that novel at 114.K words now. It's a YA fantasy. I added another 16K to the original 52K and spruced it up to submit and it will be published in the spring by MuseItUp Publishing. So much good came out of that month long lesson on writing!
This year, we planned our midnight madness writing party and Molly joined us. After almost 2000 words, I fell asleep on my keyboard as did Molly; but Elizabeth decided to stay up all night and clocked in at 13K words yesterday! That's almost a week's worth of NaNo!
What's the draw? I think it's the experience. You can study anything forever, until you're actually applying it you can't really know it. There's nothing like writing to teach you how to write better. Every word is an improvement.
The best part for homeschooling moms is the workbooks. If you sign up at the Young Writer's Program site for NaNo, you can download worksbooks for all grade levels. And these are free. Each one is excellent in how to craft a novel. For the YWP you can have your own virtual classroom, track everyone's progress together and post fun things and writing tips. You can also change the word count necessary to win. So if you have a first grader, you, as their teacher, can set their goal at 10K words. You can also order a school packet (first packet is free) that has NaNo buttons, a poster, a chart where students can sign in their word counts and stickers.
Whether you use the YWP site or the adult NaNo site, or both like we do, each participant can make their own author pages and share a bit about their book. You can even upload cover art for your novels.