Tag Archives: NANOWRIMO

This Month, Shoot the Moon with NaNoWriMo!

Sara Wink, Purdue University Global Composition Faculty


I’ve written here before about the importance of educators who “walk the walk.”  For all their recommendations to students to read and write more, educators should be doing that very thing themselves. It needn’t be a controversial best-seller or some stellar new research filled with jargon. The simple act of reading and writing every day can boost one’s productivity and skills as an educator. November presents a unique opportunity to stretch those writing skills to the max.

National Novel Writing Month is a non-profit organization that encourages writing and promotes the joy of writing and literature through resources for libraries and classroom (“About”, 2016) . One does not have to contribute anything to participate in the challenge; participants just aim to write a 50,000-word story in thirty days (“About”, 2016). It’s not surprising, then, that  it’s often called “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.”

I just love it, too. I first participated the fall after my daughter’s birth. I was teaching and tutoring for the Purdue University Global Writing Center, yet still managed to cross the 50K words  finish line. It felt really good, like, “I just landed on the moon!” good.


I’ve done NaNoWriMo three other times since then, despite teaching and raising three small children. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days is no meager feat, especially when one’s arms are literally being pulled from the keyboard. Or, when one boy has diarrhea while his twin brother vomits, and all the while their big sister complains about a cold. Or, when the supper you cooked can’t be eaten because you were missing the proper type of cheese, which means the floor gets covered with it. Or, when a red car goes missing and the screaming won’t stop until you find it. No, not that red car, the RED car. THE REEEEED CAAAAAAAR!!! (For the louder one shrieks, the better one will apparently know which hue of red out of the two dozen red cars is the “right” red car.) Despite all that, I managed to crank out 800-1000 words in an hour twice a day, teach some students, and occasionally sleep.

I’m racing with a deadline. I have to manage my time to make sure this work gets done along with everything else. I’m scrambling with a rough draft. I’m trying to put together ideas that make sense.

Sounds rather like our students, doesn’t it?

Now granted, there’s no need for APA format or polished editing; NaNoWriMo is all about writing as much of a story arc as one can. But this kind of creative challenge stretches our insides and tests our work-life balance. It’s also something we can do with our students, and on that, find a great way to connect on this academic journey. Teachers and students alike enter the classroom with their own life expertise; NaNoWriMo encourages us all to take the same road on the same starting space of experience. It encourages camaraderie and the joy of sharing one’s own stories.

Even if you don’t think you can write 50,000 words in thirty days, join in the literary abandon, and celebrate the gift of the written word. You may surprise your students…and even yourself.



About. (2016).  Retrieved from http://nanowrimo.org/about

Spread the word. (2016). Retrieved from http://nanowrimo.org/spread-the-word#webgraphics



Crazy Writing – National Novel Writing Month

Girl Looking at Laptop

©Jupiter Images

By Melody Pickle, Writing Specialist, WAC, Kaplan University Writing Center

Crazy Drafts – We encourage crazy or bad first drafts as part of the writing process for students. Sometimes, we all need motivation to get the words out on paper as a way to achieve a goal.

Joining National Novel Writing Month or NANOWRIMO is one way to get motivated to achieve a writing goal.  Even if you have never thought about writing a novel, you should try it.

1) It makes you write every day or most every day if you want to reach your 50,000 word goal.  This might actually help you get into the habit of writing . . . the habit of getting your thoughts down so you can write that article or book.

2) It encourages you to join a community of writers, which encourages more writing.

3) It is one of those crazy things for which you can say, “Yep, I did that.”

4) It is a lot of writing practice.  We all need that, right?  Getting words out on the page is a big deal, even if they are not perfect.

5) It gives you are reason to stay up late and write, madly.  Face it; creating something like this might actually be better than your favorite TV show(s).

6) You are afraid to try it.

7) You don’t think you can write a novel.

8) Others are doing it.  As of right now, there are 164,601 people already signed up to do it.   Last year over 300,000 adults participated and 80,000 youth.

9) You can ask your kids do it with the Young Writers Program.

10) You can get Pep Talks from people like James Patterson.

Sure, there are critics that say this is really no way to write a novel.  However, I am a big believer in practices that get us writing.  Anytime we are asking our brains to formulate words and put them on the page, there is communication and writing practice happening.  This includes when we do it late at night eating chocolate and drinking loads of coffee.  Even then, we are still using our inner speech (Vygotsky) and forming words and ideas.  Even if we don’t write and novel or write all 50,000 words, getting words on the page helps us organize and know our thoughts, or at least begin to know them.  This is big stuff.  We can also encourage students to participate in this or other creative writing events.

If you are thinking about doing it, this is your encouragement to sign-up now.  If you have never heard of NANOWRIMO, go to the website and see what it is all about.   Most years several of us in the KUWC and on the WAC team participate.  Let us know if you are participating or if you have advice you tell students when they are up late – writing madly.