Even if you’re aware of National Novel Writing Month, you still might not be aware of its younger sibling, Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve been doing NaNo since… oh God. Since 2005. That’s almost a decade. Regardless, this will be my first year doing Camp NaNoWriMo.
In a slightly different vein than November’s regular event, in which your goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, Camp NaNoWriMo encourages you to set your own goal. Not only that, but it creates a closer-knit, more personal community with its “cabin” system, where participants are connected to 11 other writers who will make up your support group for the month.
why do camp nanowrimo?
Now, having never done this particular event before, I didn’t come here to tell you that you should or shouldn’t be participating. And as always, what works for one writer may very well flop for another. But just in case you’re on the fence, here are some reasons I’ve decided to try it:
- Goal flexibility. A quick glance at my NaNoWriMo profile will reveal that although I’ve been participating since 2005 and have won multiple times, those times have not been in the last few years. I worried for a while that I was getting worse at writing, but I recognize now that I have significantly less spare time than I had in high school and even college. Although NaNoWriMo is still a powerful motivational tool for me, it’s been disheartening the last few years to fail at something I was capable of achieving at 16. The ability to tailor my goal to what I feel capable of achieving could make this much more effective than NaNo proper.
- Time of year. Okay, I’m not saying that I need to keep my entire November blocked off or I won’t do any Christmas shopping, but… I need to keep my entire November blocked off, or I won’t do any Christmas shopping. It sounds stupid, but the older I get, the more the holiday season fills up with responsibilities, and the less convenient November is for writing a whole novel. Plus, although fall is such a writer-ly month, spring weather makes me really efficient in most other avenues, so there’s a chance it’ll have a positive effect on my writing, as well.
- I’m already writing it. This is a major one for me: I’m not just deciding to write a novel this month for fun. I have a novel concept I just recently started working on and I need to plunge headfirst into it (which is scary). Without the pressure to start fresh on day one, I can instead funnel my focus this month into a project that I already intend to devote time to. It will hopefully feel less like a wild, exciting whirlwind and more like a controlled burst of effort in the direction of a solid goal.
- Come on, this cabin thing is really cute. I used to be really involved in the NaNoWriMo community, but as NaNoWriMo grew bigger and my real-world commitments grew greater, my ability to chill on the forums was seriously decreased. I’m hoping that with such a small group of writers, we’ll be able to encourage and help each other in a really manageable way.
so how do you set a goal?
I’m just as curious as you are. Without the set goal of 50,000 words, I admit that I’m at a bit of a loss on what I should aim for. I don’t need to finish this novel in April, and in fact, I don’t particularly want to — this is a concept I want to devote some real time and heart to. Instead, I want to give myself a goal that will push my limits but not exceed them (and isn’t that always so impossible to predict?)
As of this moment, I’m thinking about 15,000 words. But I’m curious — what do you guys think? Have you ever done Camp NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips for finding a good balance between the headlong rush of NaNoWriMo and the snail-like pace of unmotivated, day-to-day writing? If you’re participating this year, what goal have you set for yourself? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Want to follow my Camp NaNoWriMo progress this April? You can view my profile here.