Scott: Students at Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports are doing the complete opposite of athletics. They are trying to write their first novel.
Alias Isaiah Miralle: The best part for me is I’m able to write what I believe I can do in my future.
Scott: They are participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Writers from around the country are trying to write 50,000 words – that is about 175 pages – in just one month, from November 1st to November 30th.
Despite delays caused by Hurricane Sandy, these New York ninth graders are trying to hit their own target, around nine thousand words, pouring their hopes and their dreams onto paper.
Alias: I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. I’m writing about an Air Force pilot. I’m doing all this stuff that I’m looking forward to for myself. So writing, it’s like I’m writing a fictional autobiography.
Scott: The first National Novel Writing Month took place in San Francisco back in 1999, and twenty-one people took part then.
Last year, more than 250,000 people took part in NaNoWriMo. These young writers can record their progress online, and students nationwide have written more than 290 million words altogether with just days left on the calendar.
Using special word processors to help keep them focused, Alias and his classmates plug away at their novel every day in class, while their teacher Mitch Scott talks to each of them to help fuel their creativity.
Mitch Scott: I’ll try to offer just a few things to give them a little bit of a push but as soon as I say, ‘ok…well, why is that character doing that?’ They rattle off this huge subplot that you’re looking at their paper and it’s just like well, why did you call me over? You could have written this. This could be chapters upon chapters!
Scott: Mr. Scott came across NaNoWriMo as a student teacher and last year tested it out on his students, but the writing process isn’t for everyone. And this class isn’t without some slackers, between a quarter to half the class doesn’t really take the writing seriously. But he says they should.
Mitch: How many students coming out of NYC public schools need to take remedial writing classes when they enter college? A lot of them drop out because they are not earning any credits their first couple of semesters because they are just catching up.
Scott: Mr. Scott says though that after the first week, you could hear a pin drop.
Oliver Pena: I was thinking to myself, ‘how does he want us to write a novel? Isn’t that, like, for people that go to school for anything like that?’ But as the day goes on and I started writing and I started playing everything in my mind, everything was easier.
Alias: It gets to the point where everything just flows out, you know. It’s easy because you just make our own story, so you just write how you feel and you just pour everything out onto the paper. Your whole story is just you. It’s really cool.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
- What is NaNoWriMo?
- What is the writing commitment for students who participate in Novel Writing Month?
- Why do you think NaNoWriMo has become popular?
- Why did the originators of NaNoWriMo decide to require a 50,000 word minimum?
- If you were asked to write a novel, what would be your basic plot line?
- Why is writing important for students who are considering college?