What have I learned from NaNoWriMo, so far

As a writer in a community of writers
I have learned that I write much more, much better, and in a much more relaxed, enjoyable manner, when I am working within a community of writers, because I feel more connected and it takes me outside myself. When I look around and see other people writing –particularly when I see my students writing and I know I need to model good writing behavior and strategies and habits for them—it makes me less self-conscious and more proactive. I am not stuck inside my own head bemoaning my perfectionism or my lack of talent, but instead am focused more on channeling my thoughts and listening to the voices of my characters. When I am immersed in writing within community, I feel accompanied and supported, even when we are all actually working on our own manuscripts, silently banging on the keyboard. The mere act of listening to the tap, tap, tap is comforting; looking up and seeing all these writers intent on their creations gives me a rush of good feelings, which I think is essential to sustain the writing process.

Now, the question is, how to sustain this feeling beyond NaNoWriMo? That is something I have to ponder.

As a teacher, alone and in a community of teachers.

Last year as the only teacher whose students were wrimoing, it was a little solitary, though I felt sustained by the hope of having my crazy experiment validated by the kids’ success, which, thankfully, it was. That success is why all of us middle and high school English teachers are now doing NaNoWriMo with our kids, and why the fifth grade teacher and her class also joined in.

It is nice to be able to guide the other teachers through the process, to let them know that there will be days in the adventure when enthusiasm will flag and word counts will stall. In fact, that discomfort is one of the most useful things about NaNoWriMo – we have to face obstacles, such as writer’s block, a lack of motivation, a perceived lack of time or excess of responsibilities, and create and implement plans to muscle through to victory. It is a very useful lesson – that on the path to a goal that takes time and effort, you can lose your way, and you can also choose to find your way back.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I would like to thank you once again for introducing such a valuable program into our school. My students are very excited to write their own novels, and overall, the process is going well.

    The next logical step would be to determine how we can edit the writing into a finished product, maybe not an entire novel, but at least a publishable section or chapter. The students would be proud to show off their hard work. Maybe after the Christmas vacation we can revisit the novel…


    • I think that would be a wonderful exercise. I think we should focus on an excerpt of a certain length, to begin with. That would be both manageable and productive.


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