Writing with kids

NaNoWriMo: Get your kids writing!


NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, a fun, seat-of-the-pants approach to creative writing. Participating in NaNoWriMo means you will challenge yourself to write an entire novel in just 30 days.

NaNoWriMo’s adult program has a word-count goal of 50,000 words (at around 400 words a page, that’s 125 pages) for ages 13+.  They also have a Young Writers Program (YWP) for ages 17 and under, where your kid can set their own word-count goals.

“Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”

How does it work? It’s easy.

  1. Write on your own computer, or with a pen and paper. Any genre of novel is okay, including fiction, fan fiction, or memoir – whatever gets you excited about writing.
  2. Track your progress. Update your word count regularly on the NaNoWriMo website.
  3. Validate your word count by pasting the full text of your novel in the Word Count Validator between 11/25 and midnight on 11/30. If it meets your goal, you win!

What do you win? An official “Winner” web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate. And pride in yourself – you just wrote a novel!

“The real prize in NaNoWriMo is the manuscript itself, and the exhilarating feeling of setting an ambitious creative goal and nailing it.”


According to the NaNoWriMo website, over 300,000 adults and 80,000 young writers participated in 2012. And some NaNoWriMo novels have even been published:

“Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.”

Have any questions or need more information? Check out the NaNoWriMo FAQ.

It’s time to sharpen those pencils, and start jotting down some plot ideas. On 11/1, let your imagination take over and just create.

In 30 days, you will be a novelist.


Art With Kids

Art with kids: #INKtober


One of the best things you can give your kids is an appreciation of art.  A way to express their creative skills. Whether it’s with crayons, paint, pencil, ink, or magic marker. Or ketchup. Or maybe it’s with modeling clay, PlayDoh, pancake batter, sand at the beach, or painting with your finger on a dirty car window.

This month is a chance for you and your kids to make art with ink — with pens and markers! It’s called INKtober, and it’s very simple. According to Jake Parker there are 4 rules:

INKtober rules:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it on tumblr (or Instagram, twitter, facebook, flickr, Pinterest or just pin it on your wall.)

3) Hashtag it with #inktober

4) Repeat (you can do it daily, like me, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.)

That’s it!

Start with a pencil sketch if you like, then ink the lines you want to keep, then gently erase all the pencil. According to Griselda, sketching with ink will help you become a more confident artist. So, try it, if you’re feeling brave!

Want to help your kids love art?

Give them the tools and opportunity they need to try things out. It doesn’t have to cost an arm or leg:

For younger kids:

  • paper — just get a ream of printer paper
  • crayons
  • pencils — regular #2’s work great
  • a great eraser
  • colored pencils — inexpensive set is around $1-5
  • small sketchbooks — around $5

For older kids:

  • large sketchbooks (8 1/2 x 11)
  • pencils
  • mechanical pencil
  • a great eraser
  • pens — inking pens, rollerball pens, art pens
  • colored pencils — a nice quality set is around $10-20
  • a small pencil sharpener — Faber-Castell has a red dual sharpener for $5
  • a pencil case to keep everything in

Spend time together drawing. The only rule is no one is allowed to draw on anyone else’s drawing. And if they are using a sketchbook, teach them to only draw on one side of the page (and leave the back blank).

The most important thing you can do is be encouraging. Remember, everyone creates art differently, and everyone has their own personal tastes of which art looks “good” to them. Try to find something positive about what they have created.

Art can be anywhere, and is an important part of our individual identity — who we are. Art comes from the soul. Art can make us laugh, smile, cry, be angry, inspired, or confused.


And here’s my our first #INKtober sketch, done by my 11 year old daughter. She’s not quite done with it, but had to go to school. It’s Celestia, from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I love the thoughtful expression on her face, as she’s looking at the moon.

luna ink 1

Tonight, we’ll do some sketching together, and then do our 30 minutes of reading before bed. Since we’re reading Outcast, a Warriors book by Erin Hunter, maybe we’ll do some cat sketches. *meow*

What will you create with your kids?