Friday, October 9, 2009

NaNoWriMo for Young Writers: How cool is that?

NaNoWriMo comic You’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, haven’t you? That’s where you commit to writing a complete novel in one month.

Yes, thirty days of pouring your words into a story that has no time to stagger, stutter or stop. Cranking it out, day after day. It’s a challenge, but thousands of would-be writers sign up every year. (See Inkygirl’s comic, above).

This year, young writers can give their writing muscles a stretch too: check NaNoWriMo for Young Writers. The details are here for anyone who wants to tap into their inner Stephen King (author of the terrific book, On Writing, in which he advises writers to get that story out, in some form, as quickly as possible. Revision and rewriting comes later.) Instead of the 50,000-word expectations of the adult competition, young writers can set their own word count, a feature that makes this daunting challenge more appealing.

The complicating factors are school, extra-curriculars, chores and the daily pull of other recreational activities (“But it’s Leafs and Pens tonight!” or “I can’t miss Ashley’s sleepover!”). But if you’re a writer (or know a young writer) who simply has to write, and you’re looking for a challenge, this one’s for you.

A novel. In one month. Start plotting…

Friday, October 2, 2009

Writer-in-Residence Adventure: Chapter 1

Handwritten Thoughts by Lemanz R

Handwriting imageWhat a fantastic afternoon today! Fourteen enthusiastic young writers and me, their (so far) fearless leader, in the school library, writing, talking, writing, laughing, and writing some more.

Today was the first chapter in my Writer-In-Residence adventure with Mrs. N’s talented grade seven and grade eight students. We talked about choosing the right words and thinking before writing. We shared stories and laughed (probably louder and longer than we should have) at some of the creative and chaotic ideas that came bubbling out. The room was humming with energy!

When it was time for free-writing, these young artists turned their focus to the task at hand and silence fell over the room – the sign of real writers at work. I was impressed with their commitment and concentration, not to mention the joy they obviously took in the deceptively simple act of writing a good story.

I can’t wait to read some of the projects “my” writers are working on, and I’ll have a chance to do just that several times before our Big Event next May: a Storytelling Cafe in which these young authors will read and share their work with an audience of parents, peers and perhaps other members of their school community: a kind of mini-Festival of Writers.

At the end of this afternoon, I shared my favourite writing quotation with the group: The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Something tells me these young writers have that “art” well in hand.

(Photo: Lemanz R, Creative Commons)