Friday, December 21, 2012

What my Students Learned from NaNoWriMo

Summary of what I'm seeing in their reflections...
  • Dedication to a long-term goal and the realities of time.
  • How difficult it is to create a well-crafted story.
  • Daily discipline and how it can add up to amazing things.
  • Giving oneself permission to explore... giving oneself the freedom to not finish the story, to drop characters, to add in surprising ideas and elements into their writing.
  • Becoming involved in their novels made them realize how much fun it can be to lose oneself in one's story... they liked that feeling of immersion in the characters, plot and setting.
  • Genre-bending.  Fictionalization of reality; begging, borrowing and stealing ideas and making them their own; "lectures" on relationships, etc. 
  • Google Drive.  
  • How conversations with friends and supporters can move us forward. 
  • Things don't have to be perfect for there to be a nugget of awesomeness in there somewhere.
  • Even something unfinished can have value.
  • Accomplishing a long-term goal that has been hard-won feels fantastic.
  • Sometimes planning leads to awesomeness.  Sometimes planning leads to frustration and stiltedness.  
  • Our minds are surprisingly fertile.
  • For some people, noveling is not their optimum medium of creativity.
  • It is surprising what we can accomplish when we invest time and energy in our own minds.
  • It feels good to tell a story that NEEDS to be told.
When I look at this list, I realize that I didn't teach most of this in the traditional sense.  We discussed some of these ideas during the process; I had lots of conversations with students.  But mostly, I feel like I offered them the space and opportunity to experience this learning for themselves.  That's the beauty of NaNoWriMo:  when we trust our students' minds, we see that indeed they can discover their own paths.  I provide time, structure ,goal-setting, strategies... they provide the rest.  They are not empty vessels.  I wish there was time in all my classes to take them through NaNoWriMo.

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