I dare you to write that novel
If you have ever dreamed of writing the great American novel, opportunity is knocking. NaNoWriMo starts Tuesday, and there is still time to sign up. This year, I'm enrolling my school-aged children in the Young Writer's Program, part of National Novel Writing Month.
My children are lobbying to get me to sign up myself, but I haven't agreed to that yet. I keep thinking I will be busy enough shepherding them through their writing goals for the month that I won't have time for much else. I have a host of reasons for not signing up. I call them reasons, anyway. My children call them excuses.
I want to push my kids to learn something new while I cheer from the sidelines. Their finished product will be better if I am able to take time to advise them. Sleep is dear to me. Regular meals and clean laundry are important to the family. All of these factors are important to consider. And, yet, there is the challenge of NaNoWriMo that is out there, still awaiting my participation. I am tempted.
NaNoWriMo has two components. On the adult side, participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel, start to finish, in the month of November. That works out to a little over 1,600 words per day. In the program for children, there are recommendations based on grade level, and children select a total word count that is commensurate with their abilities. Resources for educators are on the NaNoWriMo website.
I have written this column for about five years. In that time, I have contributed somewhere around 80,000 words, broken down into 600-word chunks. My stories about our homeschool adventures have been true. I rarely write fiction at all; it seems like my imagination just can't make up stories that top real life.
With this column, I only have to select one thing to write about every other week. My kids are doing crazy stuff every day, interspersed with learning. I find myself saying things like, "Take those headphones off of the cat right this instant!" How could I make anything up that would be any more incredible than motherhood already is?
Writing during the day while the children are awake is a near impossibility. In order to write about the joys of family life, I find myself yelling at the children to be quiet, alienating them in order to keep track of how wonder-filled I find them to be. That is not a good combination.
In order to write in solitude, I often will stay up late or get up early. If I do both, chaos ensues. Children have radar that identifies a sleep-deprived parent. Those children descend upon me asking "Can I? Can I?" and next thing I know, I have agreed that they can have jelly beans and marshmallows for breakfast. I tell myself that trying to schedule sleep around daily deadlines seems too daunting a task.
Those are my reasons (excuses) for not participating.
In favor of signing up, I have the support and camaraderie of my children as well as an online community of other writers who are just as committed — or deranged — as I am. I have never finished writing a novel, and I do love to try to do things I have never done before. My children are writing their own stories and watching and daring me to set an impossible goal and work toward it. I do love a good dare.
So, chances are, I'm in. And if I can do it, you can do it. Your kids can do it. NaNoWriMo starts Tuesday. I dare you to write that novel.
Rose Godfrey is a homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.