If you do any writing or creative storytelling, chances are you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The annual event occurs every November, challenging writers to complete a work of at least 50,000 words over 30 days. Millions of writers around the world challenge themselves to complete the task, yet only a small percentage achieve the lofty word count goal. There are plenty of reasons not to be able to get 1,667 words per day, especially if you aren’t paid to write daily. Real life gets in the way, and over 90% of participating writers quit before November is out.
The problem with this is that every writer enters November with a story to be told, and quitting can lead to never approaching the story again. This is a shame. As a novelist, I can say that there is great satisfaction in finishing a first draft. Getting a story out, even if it’s nothing even close to a New York Times Bestseller, is a feeling like no other.
Do you have a book in you, but are you intimidated by NaNoWriMo? Then Camp NaNoWriMo might be just your ticket.
The “Camp” is an event that runs through the month of April, and much like its November sister, Camp NaNoWriMo asks for you to commit to writing every day in order to achieve your goal by the end of the month. The major difference is that you get to set your own goal.
Want to write 100 words of poetry over the course of April? That’s fine. Set your goal to 100 words, and just make sure to average 3.3 words per day. Do you have an epic fantasy in mind and want to just push out 100,000 words of unpunctuated stream of consciousness just to get started? Terrific! Set that goal and bless you if you grab it. It’s all open, and it’s all up to you.
Camp NaNoWriMo is an extremely useful event for any storyteller. With the adjustable goalposts, the intimidation factor is removed in favor of committing to achieving a goal of writing as a habit. Setting out to do something and getting it done is a reward in and of itself.
The resources available on the Camp NaNoWriMo website are invaluable. The website is free to use, and creating an account is simple. You link your account to an email, and through this you receive regular inspiring messages throughout the month. The messages come at reasonable intervals, so it’s not spammy at all. The website only asks you to update your word count as it increases, and when you do, you get access to a nice progress chart and statistics to help keep you motivated.
There’s also space to share information about yourself as a writer, a synopsis of your project, and myriad other details that make using the site enjoyable, including uploading cover art for your story. It’s all great fun, and the fact that it’s free is amazing. They accept donations for their work, and if you are like me, you end up throwing a little bit of money into the pot in gratitude for the great task it must be to keep these events organized year after year.
The greatest part of Camp NaNoWriMo is the social aspect. It’s called “Camp,” because you have the option of being “bunked in a cabin” with other writers. If you’d rather not interact with others during the event, that’s completely fine, but I recommend using this great networking tool. You can choose to be assigned to a random cabin of people, or you can be assigned to one containing writers with similar projects and interests. If you’re feeling extra committed, you can create or join a private cabin with people you know. And if you find yourself (as I have before) assigned to a cabin with people who don’t talk and/or abandon their projects early on, you can request to be assigned to a different cabin. It’s a nice, flexible means for networking and staying motivated.
Staying engaged with other writers is valuable. You can ask for and share advice, keep each other on task, and even interact after the event is over, should you strike up a friendship. I’ve met several other writers this way, and because of these interactions, I have a nice group of similar-minded people I trust to help evaluate my project ideas in the off-season.
If you have a story that’s nagging at you, then you should consider getting on board with Camp NaNoWriMo before April. I cannot recommend the event more highly. The event starts April 1st, so you have plenty of time to gather your ideas together and decide on a goal.
And if you go for it, feel free to find me on the site. My username is mhaase75, and I’m going to be striving for 70,000 words in editing/rewriting of my current project.
Happy writing, everyone!