This year, 21 Hudson Middle School students celebrated the month of November, not by growing beards or moustaches, but by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Starting in October, they met once a week before school to review resources, plan their novels and share ideas. Club advisors Kristy Bjerk and Ashley Hammer-Paakkonen, both eighth grade language arts teachers at HMS, provided the necessary information, a little encouragement, cups of hot chocolate and the space to meet with fellow writers.

NaNoWriMo's goal for young writers is 10,000 words (50,000 for adult writers). This year, four writers surpassed that goal.

Even though the majority of middle school writers didn't reach their goal, their reflections on what they learned from participating in NaNoWriMo prove it was a valuable endeavor:

• "Writing 10,000 words is hard, but meeting people with the same passion is fun!"

• "I really need to understand my idea better, then I will be successful."

• "Write every day."

• "Stay persistent!"

• "I love writing more than ever!"

• "The first draft doesn't have to be super well written; you can add more detail later."

• "I can write if I put my mind to it."

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 when a handful of San Francisco area friends challenged themselves to write a novel in a month. Not only were they surprised by the writing they produced, but also by the fun they had writing (and commiserating) together.

Launching a website in year two increased their numbers to 140. In year three, more than 5,000 signed up. The exponential growth continued, and now it's estimated that over 100,000 writers from around the world attempt to crank out the first draft of a novel in November.

Though many do not meet the goal, numerous best-sellers began as a NaNoWriMo projects, including Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.