Can You Write a Novel in a Month?

November is National Novel Writing Month!

Also known as NaNoWriMo, it’s a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1st, participants in this annual internet-based creative writing project begin working towards a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. Equal parts personal challenge and community-building experience, the innovative NaNoWriMo project encourages aspiring novelists everywhere to tell their story… with one heck of a deadline!

If you’re interested in joining the month-long writing challenge, visit the NaNoWriMo website for how-to materials, information on their Young Writers Program, and more. And for ways to get any young author’s creativity flowing, check out the great writing activities, interviews with renowned authors, and classroom-ready resources from PBS LearningMedia below.

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Authors Talk Writing, Inspiration & Process

Jerry Spinelli

Grades 4-9
Jerry Spinelli
reflects on the wide variety of books he’s written, including his most recent books ‘Stargirl,’ ‘Milkweed,’ and ‘Eggs.’ The author also reflects on the significant accomplishment of just completing a book, even if it never gets published.

Toni Morrison on Paradise

Grades 6-12
Toni Morrison
, winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, discusses her writing process and her novel Paradise.

Chosen Family & Ghost | The Great American Read

Grades 6-12
With the help of bestselling author Jason Reynolds, we learn about the importance of a “chosen family” in Ghost. We also hear directly from a group of students in Brooklyn, NY who speak about how the book affected them, and what deeper messages are hidden inside.

The Handmaid’s Tale | The Great American Read

Grades 9-12
Margaret Atwood
explains the inspiration and motivation behind her book, The Handmaid’s Tale. She reveals how everything in the book is based on something real that has happened in history. The book explores how societal evil can lead people to do unthinkable things.

MN Original | Author Marlon James

Grades 6-12
Author of three novels, Marlon James believes that different books demand a different process. Learn about his shifting writing processes, experimenting with varied writing environments, and reflect on individual processes to re-image and rewrite a scene from a story or novel.

Activities, Games & Books

Sesame Street Storybook Builder Game

Grades PreK-K
Your child can design his own storybook featuring their favorite Sesame Street characters in this pick-your-own-adventure game.

Recipe for Writing!

Grade PreK-K
REACH for more! Be an author! Write and illustrate your very own story by mixing up a simple recipe of WHO, WHERE, WHAT, and ENDING. 

Picture Books About Writers and Writing

Grades PreK-4
Celebrate the art of writing in all its various forms with these ten picture books about writers and writing that will tickle your children’s funny bones and teach them some history too.

Story Map Interactive Tool | It’s Lit!

Grades 6-12
A story map is a graphic organizer used to help students learn the elements of a book or story. Students can create their own digital story map with this interactive from the PBS Digital series It’s Lit! To create their story map, students will identify the characters, setting, and point of view of a book of their choice. Students will also identify the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of the story’s plot. Finally, students will use the interactive to analyze the big picture of the story, including the conflict, theme, and tone. The interactive includes a full glossary and a blank printable version of the story map.

Sensorial Writing | Creative Lesson Plans for Personal Storytelling

Grades 6-12
In this lesson, students will explore vivid sensorial writing while considering how to write about smell, taste, or sound in a setting. This lesson is an opportunity to talk about the importance of the concept of “show, don’t tell” in writing.

Learning Resources & Local Organizations

Adirondack Center for Writing

All Ages
The Adirondack Center for Writing brings people and words together. The ACW cultivates the art of writing and the joy of reading; celebrate the power of language to invite discovery, to create an understanding of people and sense of place, and to build a community. Check out what’s new and newsworthy at ACW and be sure to visit their Saranac Lake location for drop-in reading, writing, and community time.

Inspiring Young Authors | For the Love of Lit

Grades K-5
This virtual professional learning experience will introduce a number of teaching models and strategies to enhance your practice. How can you inspire your students to be passionate writers and engaged readers? We’ll explore how mentor texts from The Great American Read, combined with the NaNoWriMo challenge, can empower students of all ages to read and write with enthusiasm and depth. 

Five Tips for Hosting a Writing Club

Grades 3-5
Getting reluctant writers to write can be a huge challenge. Try these five tips for hosting a writing club and watch your child grow into a confident and capable writer!

Who Owns the Novel | In Search of the Novel: Workshop 1

Grades 6-12
Explore a workshop that probes the living nature of the novel by illustrating how each reader makes a novel his or her own in this one-hour video from In Search of the Novel. This professional development series shows that the interpretation of a novel changes, depending upon the reader’s culture, class, generation, sex, and personality. Educators and authors reflect on the question of ownership of a novel and how to engage students with multicultural literature.

Mountain Lake PBS Author Visits

Join us as we journey into the lives and work of amazing writers right in our community with Author Visits! Explore the full collection with more local author interviews online, anytime with Mountain Lake PBS.

Sara J. Henry Overcomes Obstacles to Publish Her First Novel

Sara J. Henry overcame some personal obstacles to write her first novel, “Learning to Swim.” It has since been published, won several awards, and spawned a sequel, “A Cold and Lonely Place.”

Author Kate Messner’s Time-traveling Dog Makes Waves

Kate Messner, author of many acclaimed books for kids, discusses her “Ranger in Time” series of historical fiction for kids with Spotlight producer Paul Larson. Messner’s fictional golden retriever has helped children facing disasters like the Titanic sinking and the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. The author also talks about her book for young adults, “Breakout,” inspired by the 2015 prison break at Dannemora.

What Makes a Being “Human?”

Author Bethany Morrow discusses issues of humanity with producer Paul Larson, as they talk about her book “MEM,” a work of speculative fiction. The book is set in the art deco world of Montreal in the 1920’s — but a different version of the period, where memories sometimes get housed in specially created living beings when those who lived through the memories wish to forget them. “MEM” is the first published book for the author.

Amy Guglielmo Tells Us About Her Series “Touch the Art”

Author Amy Guglielmo discusses the “Touch the Art” book series. Guglielmo and Julie Appel created these textured books to expose children to masterpieces in a visual and tactile way. Kids learn to touch the paintings in a book instead of on a museum wall.