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NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program (YWP)

by Peggy Reimers
Colorful sign up graphic from the NaNoWriMo YWP website saying "Your story matters. Write your novel now."

I have been tasked with checking out another great possibility for students: NaNoWriMo. That is quite the name! Is NaNoWriMo an abbreviation, acronym, or initialism? Check out the video if you want to know how to pronounce it. Let’s start at the beginning, learning about what NaNoWriMo is; and then, let’s explore the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program (YWP).

What is NaNoWriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth), which is abbreviated as NaNoWriMo. (I can see why!) The goal of this annual creative writing event is to encourage and challenge participants to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. If you are doing the math, that is 1,667 words per day. This global event brings together writers of all levels and backgrounds to work on their writing projects.

But NaNoWriMo is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page. 

What is the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program?

According to the website, “NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program (YWP) takes a joyful, focused approach to creative writing and makes it accessible to young writers, educators, and families.” It provides educators with standards-aligned resources and lessons for supporting writers who are under 18 in writing a novel during NaNoWriMo and in completing smaller writing projects all year long! Additionally, it offers tools to track progress, a writing space, workbooks, and motivational materials. Students can sign up on their own or as part of a class set up by their teacher.

To work on a novel, you can join an official event like NaNoWriMo in November, or Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, set a word-count goal, and try to reach it by the end of the month. 

What ages can participate in the YWP?

Participants 17 and under (18 is okay if still in high school) can sign up for individual accounts. If students are participating with a teacher or group leader, they can join the online classroom created by their teacher to stay connected.

Do students have to write 50,000 words?

No, the YWP allows participants to set individualized goals. 1,000 words? 10,000? 100,000??? It’s up to you! One can use the progress-tracking tools on the site to stay on track. If no official event is happening, students can create a personal challenge with their own deadline for a new or existing project.

Young writers can write directly in their YWP writing space or in a separate document, find inspiration in YWP’s noveling resources, and tap a worldwide community of fellow writers for support in YWP’s forums. But it’s not just about November. YWP supported educators and students in writing projects all year long through their resources!

How do teachers sign up for NaNoWriMo’s YWP?

  1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program.
  2. Tell a little about yourself.
  3. Use the Educator Resources.
  4. Create your virtual classroom(s).
  5. Enroll students in your class with a unique classroom code.
  6. Help students create their novels.
  7. When the challenge begins, students start writing!
  8. Track student progress.
  9. Keep your students motivated.
  10. Students write until the very end of the challenge.

NaNoWriMo provides virtual classroom spaces on their site, as well as student workbooks, Common Core-aligned curricula, and free motivational materials.

Screenshot by Emily Horn: NaNoWriMo’s YWP, Educator Resources Page

Take advantage of this global movement! Inspire your students of all ages and backgrounds to take on the exhilarating challenge of writing a novel in just 30 days. The Young Writers Program (YWP) ensures that this creative journey is accessible, joyful, and educational for young writers. So, if you want to boost writing skills, work on a specific genre of writing, develop students’ research skills, and more, NaNoWriMo might just be the perfect adventure to embark upon. Get ready to let creativity run wild and bring ideas to life, one word at a time!

Follow NaNoWriMo:

Featured Image: Screenshot by Emily Horn: NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, Home Page

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