NaNoWriMo Newbie Finds Unlikely Ally
Written by
Susan Bearman
November 2010
Written by
Susan Bearman
November 2010

I decided to take the plunge and do NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. Two years ago I had never even heard of it. Last year, I tried to talk my brother into doing the 3-day Novel Contest over Labor Day Weekend. I thought we'd have a blast holed up in a hotel with laptops, pizza and caffeine, working on a collaborative project. He called me insane (with a lot of unnecessary adjectives attached). I wonder if he will think I'm 10 times more sane for doing NaNoWriteMo since it is ten times longer than the 3-day Novel Contest. Somehow, I have my doubts. I have a NaNo partner (the fabulous Lisa Romeo). I have a project that's been cooking for nearly two decades. I even wrote a post on my personal blog about the launch of this lunacy. I was responding to a comment on that post when my son stopped by my computer, reading over my shoulder. "I want to do that," he said. He's 12. NaNoWriMo offers an >17 version called the Young Writers Program. The website is amazing, featuring lots of tips and encouragement, as well as a total word count tally of every registered young writer (today is day 2 and the kids' word count currently stands at 2,385,480). The site has plenty of resources for teachers, too, who want to incorporate NaNo into their curriculum. My son loves to write, but this is not a purely selfless endeavor on his part (then again, my own NaNo motives are probably not all that pure, either). This morning he told me that he plans to "scam, I mean, er, pitch the idea to my English teacher that NaNoWriMo should get me out of a month's worth of English homework. At the very least it should snag me some serious extra credit." The boy knows how to work the angles. His biggest problem so far is that I made him go to bed before he reached his goal last night. "But mom, I only wrote 426 words!" That's what you get for signing up for NaNo an hour before bedtime. Our other issue is that we can't "buddy" each other. Apparently, there is no cross pollination between the YWP site and the adult NaNo site. I'm wondering if we could encourage some kind of mentoring program. On second thought, my son is so far ahead of the game (certainly farther than I was at his age) that maybe all he needs is the chance and encouragement to write. Maybe he will mentor me. If you have tweens, you know that opportunities for mother-son bonding are hard to come by at this stage of the game. Who knew that NaNoWriMo would be a touchpoint for me and my son? You never know what your writing will bring to you. Writing is really an open invitation to make connections. That's why I RSVP "yes" whenever I can.

Let's be friends

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  • Susan Bearman

    Thanks. Congrats on your post pickup!

  • E Victoria Flynn

    I love this, Susan!

  • Susan Bearman

    Jeri Ann — Good luck to your son. I think it's great that your High School has a NaNo club. I'll suggest that my son try to organize one at ours. He has two years to go before he gets there. Lots of NaNo practice between now and then.

  • Jeri Ann Hill

    I have a 14-year old son who is participating this year for the second time. We're planning to do it together next year - I'm finishing an MBA program this summer. Several of his friends are also planning to do it this year - there's a club at the high school.