Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo Outcome and Lessons Learned

If you've landed here expecting to find out how we wrapped up our latest project in a pretty little bow . . . sorry.  This isn't one of those blogs.  In fact, let me clear up a few things.

We don't always finish projects.
I rarely (if ever) have beautiful pinterest-perfect presentations to share.
We fumble.  We fall down. We get back up.  A lot.

I'm fine with that.  In fact, it all lines up fairly well with my educational philosophy.  You see, I tend to value the learning process over the final product, especially with homeschooling, so that's where we place much our attention.  It's hard to document that on a blog. Shifting goals and lightbulb moments tend to not be photogenic.

All of those points line up with our experiences with NaNoWriMo.  About halfway through the month, my nine year old panicked as she realized she wasn't even close to halfway done with her story.  I encouraged her by reminding her how much she had already written, suggesting ways to jump starting her story, and leaving her half-read copy of Spilling Ink in strategic locations.

Then, I let her decide.

Of course, I din't want her to give up on her project, but it was her decision.  Her project.  I wouldn't want someone telling me I had to finish a story if I knew in my heart that it wasn't the right project for me.  One of the most important parts of participating in NaNoWriMo (for kids and adults) is learning your own process . . . learning what works and what doesn't work for you.  Every writer I know has a different process.  And some writers even have a different process for different types of writing projects.  But you'll never know what works best for you unless you try out different methods.

This was never about whether or not she could write a story, even a long story.  This was about trying something new.  About setting goals and pacing.  I think there are much more valuable lessons to be learned than whether or not you can write a bunch of words in a month.  There's value in that too, otherwise so many of us wouldn't do it, but that's not the only value to be had from participating.

By the third week, she had come to a decision.  She decided that she liked her story, and she wanted to continue working at it, but not at the NaNoWriMo pace.  She decided that she didn't want to finish her story in a month.  Not because she didn't want to do the work, but because she loved it so much, she wanted to "write it forever."  She wants to live in this story, to write it and breathe it and feel it in her bones a little bit every day.  I love that.  I respect that.  I especially love that the decision came after much speculation and that she reexamined her own goals and made the decision on her own.

My favorite moment?  When I came out of the bedroom at dinner time on Friday and announced that I had finished, my nine year old was the first to congratulate me.  In fact, she ran across the room and yelled, "You finished!" and hug-attacked me.  Then, she proceeded to randomly tell me all night how proud she was of me.  It had nothing to do with her, she just knew how much it meant to me.  So, yeah.  That, too.

This month, I'm taking a break from writing, because that's what I wanted.  I wanted to push through and draft like mad and then turn off my story-brain for a while.  Ella is continuing to work on her story, at her own pace, because that's what she wants.  
Two different projects; two different styles.  
Two different brands of success in November.


  1. Congratulations to both of you! The fact that your daughter created a world that she wants to live in, to write "forever" is a pretty fantastic accomplishment, if you ask me! Good for you for not pushing her. And good for you for finishing yours the way you wanted to!

    1. Thanks! I think it's pretty fantastic, too. :) It's hard to let go sometimes, but the more I step back to let her learn these lessons on her own, the more meaningful the experiences are for her.

  2. We dropped out too. Too many other projects this year. There's always next year!

    1. No point dragging anyone along if they're more interested in a different project! Always next year, or any other month!

  3. Good for both of you.
    I have been thinking a lot about "the process" lately. And learning more about how we each have our own style and timing.
    This is a great reflection of those concepts. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've spent the last several years figuring out my own process, so it's nice to watch my kids be able to figure out their own.


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