This is my fourth endeavor with NanoWrimo.
For the first, I took on the personal challenge and met the goal– hell, I exceeded the goal, and I turned out some pretty good material to work with. During April of that same year, I took on the task of editing for NanoCamp month while my first set of reluctantly, excited, creative writing students wrote and wrote and wrote. Of course, to my dismay, some of my group cheated which left me appallingly sad. They inserted essays they’d written or copied entries from their journals, or, I even had one boy copy and paste the same 500 words over and over to meet his goal. Needless to say, we had a long discussion about cheating and who really gets cheated when we do. There were a few gems in the bunch who walked away having felt a sense of accomplishment, unmatched by any other high school assignment, for actually writing original material and meeting their goals. I also received a few anonymous notes from students in this class sharing how worthwhile this task was and encouraging me not to give up. For my own personal camp experience, I worked on the book I had begun in my first nano challenge and became increasingly satisfied with the revision process (though grueling as it was at times– this is my least favorite part of writing). I learned a lot about my students, the process, and my own revision evolution.
The next stab at Nano came the following fall when I, yet again, tackled the fiction frenzy month with my class of writers. This time, I amended the guidelines for my students not only to make them more specific but also more doable. They embraced the challenge and I had not one cheater in the bunch. For me, I did not come away feeling as successful as I had the first and second time; in fact, I decided to abandon what I had written, altogether, as it was pretty much crap, but I did meet my word count goal. Moreover, the experience reaffirmed that crap happens; we have to write through the crap to get to the good stuff sometimes.
MOST of my students come away from Nano feeling quite accomplished, some even continue writing the novels they started working on. Not only do students learn about themselves as writers, more importantly they take lessons away that teach them about themselves.
For me, Nano writing month is a time to focus, get re-generated, start pumping the creative juices in a very scheduled and focused way.
While I write quite a bit in my spare time, I can go periods without feeling moved to write or completely blocked even though I try. Being in the habit of writing is a reminder of how important habitual, planned writing is.
This time, I’m writing a series of short, memoir pieces which, ultimately, I hope to organize into a book. I’ve been considering this for some time. In fact, so many people who know me well have suggested I do; I suppose I have a lot of interesting personal stories to tell. I just hope I can tell them well. What I’m most ambivalent about is writing true AND personal, entirely exposed. To me, the combination is frightening. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I’m guessing that’s one of the things I’m about to learn.
As for my writing group, I have high hopes. This year, I seem to have a lot of interested writers in my group who have come to this class as writers eager to learn about form. style and process.
1 week to go! Getting the creative juices flowing.