NaNoWriMo ended at midnight on November 30. So, what’s next for your students?
Some people say, “Let’s publish your book!”
I say, “Not so fast.”
It’s not that I don’t value what the students have written, but let’s get perspective. I don’t want students to think that the madcap fun we had with writing sprints and playing games is equal to the process of being creative, being your own editor, and whittling and polishing a story until it’s ready for others to read. NaNoWriMo was really just that first part of writing a story or book. It was a creative, fun, demanding process. I want them to embrace that.
The first thing I do is check in with all my NaNoWriMo students. I’m working on that today. I want to get my chart finished, where we note what percentage each student accomplished. I praise the students who finished at 100% and the students who even got to 10%. Those ten percenters struggled. I guarantee it. They realized that even with our fun at school, it was ultimately up to them to write. And, they didn’t get nearly as far as they thought they would. I’m glad they gave the effort.
When I check in with each student today, I’m going to also hand them an invitation. This only goes to the ones who got at least 10% done. I think I have a couple who flaked out on me completely. I’m probably not inviting them to our party. On Thursday, the kids who got the invitations will come to the lunch room for a sundae party. We’ll talk about NaNoWriMo, play a game or two (maybe just Mad Libs,) and we’ll eat ice cream. In the invitation, I have asked that if they are able, they should send a sundae topping and/or a prize for the awards time. I also asked our school librarian if she had any discarded books she could give me.
I will have students go through a line to get their sundaes. As they’re enjoying them, we’ll have a table of prizes for them. I’ll probably try to set it up so they can see the prizes as they go through the sundae line. Then, I’ll call students forward starting with those who got 100% of their NaNoWriMo goal. They get to choose one thing from the prize table. Then, the 90%, 80%, and so on. When I go through the whole list, if there are still prizes left, I’ll go back through the list, until they’ve taken everything they want.
Another invitation I will extend to the students is the invitation to edit and publish their story. I have a few students who will want to read their stories at the party. If we have time, we’ll definitely do that. I will talk to the students about their stories. Maybe it’s not good, I’ll say, but please don’t throw it away until you’ve given it a little time. It’s so easy to finish NaNoWriMo and either think you just wrote the most clever story ever or the stinkiest piece of garbage possible. Both are most likely far from the truth. That clever story still needs to be revised, critiqued, and edited. That piece of garbage may hold a few gems that you won’t notice until you’ve gotten a little perspective.
And, that’s it. I don’t push kids to do anything with their stories, and I won’t read any that day. I let those stories be whatever they’ll be. And, I let the students bask in the glow of a NaNoWriMo sunset.
This is the last NaNoWriMo post this year. Do you have any questions or comments?