Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

Writing Wednesday: Breaking through writer’s block

Posted November 19, 2014 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities | 2 comments »

crushed paper - writer's block - crumpled paper with unfocused background

My kids and I were playing a game yesterday that later I thought could be a great way to break through writer’s block. We tell a story one line at a time, with each person coming up with the next line. The next person has to repeat what the previous person said and say, “…because…” and then add their own line. The result is a story told in reverse.

Our game started like this: The boy was crying. The boy was crying because…he dropped his peanut butter sandwich. He dropped his peanut butter sandwich because…he was startled. He was startled because…there was a fire behind him. There was a fire because…it was a forest fire. There was a forest fire because… etc. We quickly made the rule that aliens could at no point enter the story, because it was all too easy to attribute anything and everything to aliens. Otherwise, anything was fair game.

I thought this method could be a great way to work through writer’s block. The name “writer’s block” implies you’ve come up against a barrier and you can no longer move forward. By taking a step back and attempting to explain “…because,” you turn the story in a different direction, add reasons and meaning, perhaps some backstory, and hopefully move your way around the blockage.

What are your tricks for working around writer’s block?

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Writing Wednesday: Do you NaNoWriMo?

Posted November 12, 2014 by
in Writing as Meditation | 3 comments »

NaNoWriMo: the home front

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo for short, happens every November. I’ve never done it, but I see it online a lot and it does look like fun. It seems like a great way to get the creative juices flowing, and to be a part of the larger writing community.

The goal is to complete a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Many writers work best to a deadline, so this is a great way to put the pressure on to finally write that novel you’ve been thinking about for ages.

There’s a whole online community, and ways to measure your progress every step of the way. Seems like the support would be great for first-time novelists. There’s also people who do it every year. I could see how it could get addictive, like an adrenaline rush for writers to work under pressure to reach your goal (but in a casual way when your salary doesn’t depend on it).

Do you NaNoWriMo? What has been your experience of it?

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Guest post: NaNoWriMo and young writers

Posted November 17, 2011 by
in Pens, Paper & People | Add your comment »

Brent Acuff is a middle school band director in Hutto, TX. This is his fifth year participating in NaNoWriMo and his second year mentoring a Young Writer’s Program.

I have read a lot lately about the decline of handwriting in public schools. Being a teacher in a public school myself, I would tend to agree with that statement. But I think that assumption is a little misleading. While it is true that handwriting, the act of putting pen to paper and learning to write in cursive is no longer taught in public schools, the art of writing a story is still alive and well.

I have participated in the yearly event that is NaNoWriMo for the last five years. That wonderful, sleep deprived month in which a few hundred thousand amateur, and even professional writers, tap furiously at their keyboards striving to meet a word count. Being a fan of fine pens and journals for some time, I struggle each year with the dilemma of setting aside these utensils for the necessity of the word processor. But for the other eleven months of the year you’ll find me hunched over a journal, fountain pen in hand.

My students find this fascinating. Several times each year I am asked the question, “What kind of pen is that?” and “Why are you always writing in a diary?” I can’t tell you how hard it is to explain to middle school kids that it is a journal, NOT a diary. When I explain to them that I am writing a book, their response is, gratefully, “That’s cool.” My question for them is always, “Why don’t you write one too?”

Enter the NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, and the point of this post. I am pleased to say that the school where I teach, Hutto Middle School, is currently in their second year participating in the Young Writer’s Program. And the kids are excited about writing! Each day these young kids come into the classroom, excited to share their stories and current word counts. Each student sets their own word count goal. It is amazing to watch as they set their initial count, then push that goal higher and higher as their words pile up. It is infinitely gratifying as an educator and amateur writer myself to watch these students create something of their own.

And the students’ excitement has not stopped with their own stories. After reaching out to the writing community at large, several fine writing suppliers have graciously donated supplies for these writers. Much more than I ever could have expected. I never would have believed the look on these students faces when I opened the boxes to show them what was inside. Kids excited about pens, pencils, and journals?

After my experiences this year and last, I believe we need to revise our thoughts on kids and writing. To steal a sentiment from the great conductor Benjamin Zander, students are excited about and love to write… they just don’t know it yet! I invite everyone in the writing community to share their passion for the art of writing. It has certainly been an extraordinary experience for me.

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