Write Your Way Through Long November Nights

Western Mass Offers Writing Outlets for a Creative Hibernation

In a nutshell…National Novel Writing Month

November in New England brings shorter days, colder temperatures, and barer trees. For some, it signifies the seasons’ slow transition into winter, and marks the time when we begin to hibernate indoors, nestled in sweaters and clutching mugs of tea and bowls of soup. If you’ve got a good indoor project to work on, all of this hunkering down may not be a bad thing – even for families.

This November, early hibernators can make good use of their indoor time by participating in one of two fantastic writing projects that will be taking place! Offering opportunities for writers of all ages to craft either a new novel or a collection of poems, these writing opportunities come at a perfect time of year. We’re all preparing to head indoors for a while anyway, so why not begin a long-term indoor project at the same time!

For poets, the 30 Poems in November project poses an exciting challenge: produce a poem a day for an entire month! Held as a fundraiser for Northampton’s Center for New Americans (a community-based education and resource center for immigrants and refugees), the 30 Poems in November project asks participants to gather sponsors for their participation and, as they write all month, sponsors contribute to funds that help the center to offer programs supporting family literacy.

Of course, writers participating in the project get to choose the style, length, and content of their writing, making it accessible to poets (and not-yet-poets) of all ages. Families could participate in the project together, while spending the month learning about and writing different styles of poetry. Additionally, families could learn together about famous poets past and present, and work to understand them better by writing poems to emulate their style. Very young writers can even practice rhyming and spelling by making poems with end rhymes or acrostics. The possibilities are endless! Simply commit to writing 30 poems throughout the month, share your plan and gather sponsors, and then get to work!

A second exciting writing project taking place during November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which challenges writers to create an entire novel over the course of the month’s thirty days. Centered around the creation of new work as well as utilizing an organized writing process, National Novel Writing Month provides writers with a structure that encourages them to work and complete a major piece, but also allows them to connect with other writers in their area. Official participation requires the creation of an account (and to create an account, participants must be 13 or older), but that account gives users access to the project’s resources for supporting participants’ writing process. Participants will also get encouragement – via the internet – from other writers and published authors, helping them to stay motivated to truly finish their book!

While official participation in NaNoWriMo is limited to writers of a certain age, it’s possible for families to participate unofficially in the project themselves at home. Even families with young children could embark on a project to create a long story over the course of the month, adding onto it in installments daily or weekly. No matter how you do it, November can be a month filled with words – words in poems, words in a novel, words telling your stories!

Educators can use NaNoWriMo as a catalyst to encourage writing in their students.  Check out the Young Writers Program for learn how NaNoWriMo works, supporting kits, lesson plans, and opportunities to connect through a virtual classroom and with other educators.

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