The Winston Churchill School students will be spending a month writing their own stories as part of National Novel Writing Month.
Naomi Brand is a student and a member of the school’s Creative Writing Club. She started taking part in the project since first grade and is now in her fifth year.
“I love how creative you can be and create your own world and write your own book.”
Brand believes she wouldn’t write as much as she does now if she hadn’t taken part in the club and last year wrote a 12,000-word novel. She says her goal is a 10,000-word novel that will have elements of fantasy, action and horror.
Grade 2 teacher Jenson Brown first introduced National Novel Writing Month to the school and has been running it officially at the school for the past five years. Brown says the program helps children find the joy in writing and reading.
“To develop as a writer you have to get them reading and to develop as a reader, get them writing. The biggest push is it gives them that confidence of ‘I can do this and this is fun.’”
The program is open to all ages and has different word count targets for different levels of writing. Juniors in the first and second grade can take the program and hit their targeted word count or can write however much they want.
“The way it’s set up, it doesn’t matter what your writing ability is at the start. We celebrate everybody at their level.”
The official program goes from grade 3 to 6 where students can track their work through a virtual classroom. The virtual classroom provides the students with resources and suggestions to help with their writing.
Brown says it allows students like Brand to write stories that wouldn’t fit within the school curriculum and grow as writers.
“What NaNoWriMo allows her to do is instead of following the guidelines in the classroom, it allowed her to work more one-on-one, more on mentorship, and say ‘I want to try this out. How do I try this scene?’ and work things out,” Brown says.
Students start preparing for the project in September and layout a plan and brainstorm ideas for their stories which they will write in November. Near the end of the month, the students who are taking part in the project will spend an evening at the school to try and finish their stories before the deadline.
Globally, over 100,000 young writers in 9,000 classrooms took part in the project in 2017. The project is also open to adults who have to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.