NaNoWriMo: What is it, and why would I want to do it with my students?

What is NaNoWriMo?

Hmm. Unless you’ve actually gone through it yourself (as an adult participant) you will probably not believe what I’m about to say. In fact, I explained this to a teacher recently, and he looked at me and said, “I hope someone wants to do it.” I smiled and assured him, “Oh yes. They will. In fact, they’ll be begging for it!”

So, what is it? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It all started with a group of word nerds who had been complaining about not having enough time to write a novel. They had to work. How would they ever find the time? Just like runners who sign up for a marathon, they committed themselves to spending one month to writing 50,000 words. (That’s a small novel.) They decided they would do it no matter what. If it meant awaking early, staying up late, skipping meals. It didn’t matter. For one month, they could do it!

Fast forward to today. With a website and hundreds of thousands of participants ever year, people find ways to squeeze out words as they squeeze in the time to write. Check out the official website:  

If you can talk your students into joining you (yes, I would like you to do it, too!) on this fun, crazy month of marathon writing, you will see just how fun it can be. Like any marathon, there will be bumps in the road. I had one student who wanted to quit on the second day!! I will give you tips to keep the weary wordsmiths writing.

Here’s the website for the youth program:

I’m sure you have lots of questions right now. What can you do?

  • Send me your questions. I will answer them or send you to the resources you need.
  • Research on both NaNoWriMo sites above. There is lots of information to soak up.

I am not exaggerating the fun of NaNoWriMo. I have had students coming up to me to ask about NaNoWriMo during the first week of school. They are psyched to try it again!