Get Youth Writing With the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

In November you may begin to see an interesting hashtag from your creative friends on Twitter, #NaNoWriMo. Turns out, that’s not just gibberish! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is a fun challenge to write an entire novel in a month. Over the course of 30 days, the nonprofit organization NaNoWriMo helps writers track their word count, hosts writing events, connect with other writers, and provides resources to help novelists complete their work. And it works! In 2021, 427,653 writers participated! Some of your favorite novels began as NaNoWriMo projects, including The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, and Evvie Drake Starts Over by NPR journalist Linda Holmes.

The NaNoWriMo organization also runs the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program, which supports under-18 writers and K-12 educators participate both in the November challenge, but also hosts smaller writing challenges year-round. They’ve got everything you need to support your youth’s writing goals, at no cost. They believe that writing proficiency can be advanced in three ways:

  • By valuing young people’s unique stories.
  • By focusing on writing fluency first instead of writing ability.
  • By developing writing self-efficacy.

Afterschool staff can register as Educators and create virtual classrooms where you can monitor progress, edit youth novels, and set writing challenges any time, and youth can participate in discussions. NaNoWriMo also provides Teaching Resources, including Common Core-aligned lesson plans (separated by grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) that cover the entire writing process and student workbooks, all free. You can request a free classroom kit to be mailed or download digital copies that have progress charts and more.

Screen shot of the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program front page, with colorful story motifs including a dragon, castle, knight, aliens, dinosaur, city, and other cartoons.

How can you use the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program in your Boys & Girls Club? Consider establishing a Writing Club, an opt-in club for youth who are interested in storytelling and participating in fun challenges. These types of affinity clubs can create a strong sense of belonging between members, giving them an opportunity to dig deep into something they are interested in and connecting with others who want to do the same, all while building valuable skills. You can also use the lessons in your Academic Success programming year-round or set up accounts for youth to write during Power Hour.

Have fun getting creative!

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program logo, featuring a shield in front of a pen and pencil crossed like swords, Viking helmet, and the name
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Need more writing activity ideas? Check out this ClubX Blog post:

What are your favorite writing activities? How do you integrate self-expression and creativity into the Club day? Let us know! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email

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