Young Writer Chronicles: Students Around the World Discover a Love for Writing

I was pleased and honored to be asked to write an article for the National Novel Writing Month about my experiences as an international educator taking students through NaNoWriMo. Here is an excerpt from that article, with the link to the whole article at the bottom of the page.

Young Writer Chronicles: Students Around the World Discover a Love for Writing

by Nate Fleming

tumblr_inline_o6x334JM8u1r0x68m_500I fell into NaNoWriMo backwards, through Script Frenzy, a program sponsored by the nonprofit behind NaNo from 2007 to 2012. In Script Frenzy, a writer would write the first draft of a screenplay over the month of April. At that time, I had aspirations to be a screenwriter, even going so far as to take a screenwriting course in Hollywood over the summer of 2007 to help me down this path.

My biggest obstacle to a screenwriting career was geography. That summer I’d come to Hollywood from my wife’s home country of Kazakhstan, where I was teaching in an international school. Central Asia is not exactly the best place for a writer to live if he wants to break into Hollywood, is it? So, on the advice of a screenwriter friend, I turned to NaNoWriMo. If I couldn’t be in Hollywood to sell my screenplay idea, perhaps I could write a novel, and that novel could sell itself! In 2008, I decided to set aside November to work on making my screenplay into a novel.

downloadAlthough I didn’t finish the novel that year, I enjoyed NaNoWriMo so much that in 2009, I decided to try and see if I could fit NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program into my international school’s curriculum. That year, with the approval of my administration, I piloted taking a valiant class of fifth graders through the month of writing, and it was maddening, exhilarating, insane, and immensely rewarding.

My eyes were opened as I saw students who had previously struggled to write a paragraph effortlessly filling pages and pages of a first draft. It also unlocked writing in other classes across the curriculum, and writing was coming easier for these students in history, science, and literature classes. It was revolutionary! The doors had been opened, and my students suddenly believed that they could write! It was almost magical!

To read the rest of the story, go here.



2 thoughts on “Young Writer Chronicles: Students Around the World Discover a Love for Writing

  1. Words and pictures fascinated me when I was a child. My father’s storytelling and my mother’s painting talent kept me inspired. When I began generating paintings for my own imagined stories, I quickly became disenchanted with the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” My audience could not see the extent of the story in my head simply from one painted scene. Shyly, I always had to explain the scene aloud or I wrote words on the matted artwork to convey my intentions.

    Still, I thought the painter’s life was for me, but practically speaking, it did not come with the support of financial means, so I took the advice of a family friend and became a nurse. I worked to put my physician husband through school, and we raised five children, and I left my creativity to simmer on the back burner.

    One day an “aha” moment happened when I read the morning paper. A news piece about Nanowrimo challenging procrastinators to make a rough draft of a novel in a month presented an engaging experiment for me. Even though I could not (still cannot) type without looking at the keys, through Nanowrimo’s wonderful daily inspirations and encouragements, I managed to generate 50,000+ words in November 2007 and completed the last chapter at 87,000 words on Christmas Eve. My husband loved receiving the chapter as his gift, and I was ecstatic with my new found form of artistic expression.

    Nanowrimo set my love of writing in motion. Later, attending screen writing courses brought back the missing visual element I also dearly love. Someday, I hope to have a functional screenplay adapted from my novel stories. Making word “picture” stories is the adult version of the child in me who used to make “pictures” at the kitchen table.

    I couldn’t be happier.

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