Today is the first day of November, and you have 30 days to participate in National Novel Writing Month. For young writers, there's NaNoWriMo's Young Writing Program. The challenge? To complete a 175-page -- i.e. 50,000 word -- novel by midnight on Nov. 30. Young writers can set their own word count goals.
According to the website, NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. It's about enthusiasm and perseverence, not craft. Huh? Is this the message we want to send to our young writers? I could get cranky and trot out all the criticisms of this project, but why bother? Fact is, there's a lot to be learned from setting a goal and pursuing it. If this particular goal doesn't see completion, so what? There's still a lot of learning to be had.
Send your teens the link and see if they bite. Deliver the message from the folks at NaNoWriMo -- that it doesn't matter how the novel turns out. For writing phobic teens, there's something exhilaratingly freeing in that. In order to receive recognition from NaNoWriMo, your novel doesn't have to be any good. It just has to get done.