NaNoWriMo: Supporting and Encouraging Students


Families & People

Help students keep writing.

NaNoWriMo has begun! We’re off to the races. And, guess what. On Sunday, I checked in with a few students. Two hadn’t started yet, and one asked if he can quit already. Ha! That is par for the course in NaNoWriMo. I, myself, have already started procrastinating and finding ways to count extra words (like this blog post!) What can you do to help your students and yourself keep going? Keep reading.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned using story cubes, giving permission to write anything, and telling them to add random stuff. Let me give you a few more ideas.

Go to the NaNoWriMo sites (the regular one and the YWP one.) There, you’ll find a few helpful encouragements:

  • Read pep talks written by famous writers and fellow NaNites (I don’t know if that’s the right word, but I like it.)
  • Connect with others by looking for buddies or visiting the forums (this may be better for adults and older students.)
  • Use the Dare Machine on the YWP site. It’s just plain fun. Click on it and see what it dares you to write.



Review the students’ goals. I am trying something different this year. I am letting them write the first few days without official goals. When I meet with them today, I will start going through goal-setting with them. I’ll help them use the writing they’ve already done to figure out a realistic goal. Then, we’ll break it down into a daily goal and write out the goals for each 10%. Those are the ones we mark on our class chart. I don’t necessarily write down their goals for everyone to see. I would rather celebrate hitting their percentage milestones.


NaNo Lunch

Host NaNoWriMo lunches. I am doing lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year. I show up in a classroom, and those who want to stay bring their lunches into the room. I tried to use the lunch room, but it got too noisy. During the lunch, I usually talk while they eat. I do a short workshop type idea or even read a picture book. Some days I have objectives, like setting goals or taking about character development. Other times, I just am there to make sure they write. I check in with individuals on those days and play some classical music for those who like it.


Writing Sprints

Challenge them to writing sprints. When I have my NaNo lunches, I invite kids to do these sprints, but they’re totally voluntary. I set a timer, then they race to see how many words they can write in that time. When the timer goes off, they drop their pencils and count. I give a little prize to whoever wins.


Check In

Check in with them. This is really important. For the kids who want to quit, I keep checking even after they say they have quit. For the most excitable students, I keep checking, too. They’ll hit a wall at some point. They need the encouragement. And, their enthusiasm often rubs off on others, including me.


It is a joy to work with students on NaNoWriMo each year. It’s extra work – lots of volunteer hours. The pure enthusiasm of it and the freedom to write anything that pops into their heads – it’s worth it!


Do you have any questions about NaNoWriMo in the classroom or home school?

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