A Camping We Will Go, With NaNoWriMo

Last night, I mentioned that I was doing Camp NaNoWriMo, and then gave a short explanation. Tonight, I’d like to expand on that a bit, for those who don’t know, but I’m going to start with a more basic explanation.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a sort of sister program to NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in the month of November. There’s a website made from the organization that puts the event together (http://nanowrimo.org), and you can create a free account and track your wordcount through the month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge for everyone to take on, to write 50,000 words toward a novel, to dedicate as much of your time and effort to a new idea, or just to see how well you can do it.

There was a motivational letter that went out at the end of November, or I think it may have been in the revision months of December and January, where an author wrote about a friend of theirs saying they failed. The response they gave was, “No, you didn’t fail, you tried, and that’s what matters.”

It’s more about growth as a writer, is the point; whether it’s that you want to write as many words as possible, or you want to finally give some life and body to something that’s been knocking around in your head for a while. That you tried at all, made any kind of effort, is really what the event is about, letting creativity reign.

Unlike NaNoWriMo proper, Camp NaNoWriMo is your chance to write whatever you’d like, it doesn’t have to be a novel. You can do revisions, you can write short stories, you could get some prompts out of the way that you’d had stored up for yourself (read as: something I do for myself), or even use it as motivation to work on something you had in the works before.

NaNoWriMo, or as it’s also frequently called, NaNo, is a very big event, that people all over the country take part in with kick off parties, some at midnight and others in the middle of the day. Some travel across to collect locations on where they go to kick off the month, meeting new people each time. Throughout the month, there will be more meet ups, word sprints, word wars, tons of different things you can do through the forums to help your motivation, and even an IRC chat (I think) that they host.

With 50,000 words, the daily average is 1,667 words, or 1700 if you want to round up.  Which, I will say, if you haven’t worried about wordcount before, may not seem like a lot at first, but it is. It’s certainly enough to make a difference, but don’t let it intimidate you.

I spent last year going, “what is camp nano?” And this year it was, “Oh! These are the months!”

Each year, they change the months, but they’re always in spring/summer. April and July were this year and I believe last year was July and August. So they change annually, but it’s still an invitation to get you writing daily for a couple of months.

A fiction writing professor that I had said several times that if you’re going to get serious about writing, you should have a time that you sit down and do it every day. For me, at that time, I was too scatterbrained to really get to that point, but it takes time, it all just takes time, and effort, and if you’re willing to put that into what you want, you can get there, wherever you want to be.

If you’re having trouble finishing any projects, too, Nano is perfect for you, too. I was a chronic story-starter, but I could never finish anything. Nano laid out for me that I could do something from start to finish, though I admit that the first year I tried, I made it through half the month before giving up.

Whatever you can manage through the month is remarkable. Especially if it turns out a personal best. It gives you, most of all, a goal to reach, whether it’s simply writing every day, or at all, to hit 50k, or 100k, finish early, or finish on time, and even just to meet others an collaborate ideas. At its core, NaNoWriMo, Camp and the month of November proper, is a tool for you to utilize how you see fit, to help yourself. Don’t hesitate.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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