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Camp NaNoWriMo: What it is, how it works, and how to reach your writing goals

I remember July of 2018 quite vividly. I had just started my YouTube channel in the hopes of putting myself "out there" in the writing community and meeting other writers in the process. What was unique about July is that I noticed many of the writers in the "authortube" community posting vlogs of something called Camp NaNoWriMo.

To be honest with you, I had no idea what this was. I had heard of people tossing around the words nano this and nano that. I knew it had something to do with novel writing and these writers online had a genuine enthusiasm for it, so my interest was peaked.




In case you aren't familiar, I'll start with the basics. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which happens every year in November. The intention is that writers can push themselves to achieve the goal of writing an entire novel (or, at least, 50,000 words) in just thirty days. People that would otherwise struggle to self-motivate and stay on course can be encouraged by their peers and feel more accountability to finish a project that they have declared during this time.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a bit different. Occurring in both April and July of each year, this event is less ambitious. It is a month in which you can set your own goal, typically smaller than say, pounding out a first draft in a month. During Camp NaNo you can set a smaller word count goal, page goal, or my favorite, a time goal.

This being my first experience with any kind of NaNoWriMo event, I decided that the time strategy was perfect. Not only is this how I operate on an everyday basis, but I would still have the accountability of a community that would also pursue a writing goal at the same time.

For me, setting a word count or page goal doesn't always make sense. For example, when I'm in the in-between stages of revision and activities are harder to track. Writing-related tasks may include:

  • Read-through of my last draft
  • Making notes
  • Referencing various books on plot, character, setting, etc.
  • Making a revision plan
  • Editing  my revision plan
And finally...
  • Starting my revision!
For this reason, the time goal that Camp NaNoWriMo allows is ideal for writers like me that are in this stage of their project. It not only gives you the dopamine rush and feeling of accomplishment for checking in your time for the day, but I find that it validates the non-drafting activities that I find myself often overlooking as actual writing

Yet another bonus of the event is that I get to connect with other writers in various stages of their careers. Camp NaNoWriMo includes a feature where you are grouped into small online writing groups called "cabins." These cabins act as a forum where you can see your cabin mates' progress and have conversations. You can group yourself with friends, or you can be placed into a cabin, depending on your preferences. 

This April I am hoping that Camp NaNoWriMo will encourage me on the days that I'd rather stay in bed the extra hour. I also hope it reminds me that the time I am investing into my project is real work. Pardon my language, but to borrow the words of Stephen King:

"...sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position."

For these reasons I've set myself a goal of 30 hours. That's just one hour each day. Will I finish my revision? Not likely. I will, however, be reminding myself that that time I am investing into my project is doing good work. It might not seem like it in the day to day, but these small steps add up to big changes when you look back on the days you might have otherwise done nothing at all. 

Here's hoping for a productive April!

Is anyone else participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? I'd like to hear what you're working on! 

Camp NaNoWriMo is free to sign up and participate. Go to https://campnanowrimo.org for more information.

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