Winding Down NaNoWriMo

For the past two years, my Creative Writing class and I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) during the month of November. My first time was… well, let’s call it chaotic. I didn’t give my learners enough preparation time nor was I prepared to help coach some fifty learners through the stressful and overwhelming process of writing a novel.

This year I was a little more prepared. Learners spent the last two weeks of October brainstorming, creating characters, identifying plot points, and outlining. It was awesome. They were asking all the right questions and the workshops that came out of that time were really valuable.

Now that we are firmly in December, my learners have been tasked with choosing a 1,000-2,000 word excerpt that they are to revise and take through Writer’s Workshop three times. Learners will present their final drafts to the class before we leave for Winter Break. While many of my learners didn’t meet their ambitious word count goals, right now, they are doing the hard work of writing: revision.

In my personal NaNoWriMo journey, I have written a 51,000 word manuscript that is somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 words shy of being completed. This novel for me was a divergence from comfort. I wrote from the perspective of two sisters, going through two separate struggles, with a focus on how family can help shore us up in the more nasty parts of life and can help celebrate with us as we come out on the other side. I have definitely struggled with this process.

Then there is the problem of the messy middle of my novel. Today, I sat down with a notebook and used some writing time to plan and process and think about what my characters need in order for the novel to have that sense of closure. I have an idea, probably not complete, but I luckily now have a direction.

Next steps for me are to finish my draft sometime in the next two months. Then, I too will move on to the hard part of writing: Revision.

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