November is National Novel Writing Month. This annual internet-based creative writing project, also known as NaNoWriMo, which encourages participants to write a 50,000-word manuscript, has been running since 1999. This project is incredibly popular and has lead to nearly 600 novels being published. Since 2004, NaNoWriMo has included a Young Writers Program where students up to the age of 18 can challenge themselves to write creatively. Everyone who takes part in the scheme gains access to writing resources and badges which track progress. If you know any young people who are interested in creative writing National Novel Writing Month could be a great opportunity to practice this English GCSE skill.
For people aiming to write a novel in a month, writing every single day is absolutely crucial. However, making writing a regular habit is useful for anyone wanting to improve their creative writing skills to prepare for English GCSE exams or to pursue writing as a creative outlet. Writing every day can help break down seemingly impossible tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Aiming to write an entire novel can be intimidating, but if you work for at least 15 minutes a day, the word count on the project will go up and up! The Science-Fiction novelist Chuck Wendig advises new writers that if they write just 350 words on every weekday then they will have a first draft of a book within 12 months.
Creative writing is a core English GCSE skill, and all English teachers will encourage GCSE candidates to do what they can to improve their story-telling abilities. While teachers and tutors might not have time to read hundreds of pages, they will be more than happy to read a few pages and offer advice on skills that students occasionally struggle with such as how to punctuate dialogue, creating interesting characters and using language devices. If you don’t yet have an English tutor, get in touch with Cardiff and Vale Tutors and they will be able to put you in touch with a qualified English teacher who has extensive experience of teaching writing skills.
This tip requires a huge amount of bravery. Once you have written a first draft of your project, find a friend who you trust to give honest, constructive feedback. The reader might notice plot holes, mistakes and inconsistencies that you would never spot. You will never improve as a writer if no one helps you realise where you are going wrong. It is really important to choose a friend who will give some positive feedback as well as tips for improving your work because this will provide you with the confidence to make the second draft even better. A good strategy is to ask for three positives and two things that can be improved.
Key words – NaNoWriMo, Creative Writing, English, GCSE
This blog is written by Samuel Heaton, a qualified English teacher. Sam is a English GCSE and A level tutor for Cardiff & Vale Tutors.