Getting Ready for Camp (Nanowrimo that is)

Many people have heard of Nanowrimo. For those of you who haven’t – Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a writing challenge where writers undertake to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. The goal is to get writers writing. The challenge encourages you to turn off your inner editor and critic and just get the words on the page. When you are writing that much in such a short period of time, you don’t have time to overthink and edit every word. Especially considering for most people life is still happening in November. You just write. The editing can come later.

Confession time? I have never participated in Nanowrimo. I have thought about it, and even planned on doing it, a number of times. But I always bail just before it starts. Part of it is that November is always a really busy month for me. Deep down though I know that, even though that may be a legitimate and valid excuse, it is just that. An excuse. An excuse to cover up the deeper reason, which is fear. I don’t think I actually believe that I can do it. So, instead of risking the possibility of failing, I just haven’t tried. I know. Terrible.

But that is where Camp Nanowrimo comes in. Camp Nanowrimo is the smaller relative of Nanowrimo. It takes place twice a year, first in April and then again in July. It is a more relaxed, more customizable challenge. The goal is still to get writers writing, but you can set your own word count goal and you can set the parameters of your project. You don’t have to write a novel. You can set a goal other than a word count.

You don’t have to write a novel – you can write a number of short stories, or blog posts, or even a screenplay. You can challenge yourself to as high, or as low a word count as you want. If word counts don’t work for you, challenge yourself to write for a set amount of time over the month. You can even challenge yourself to edit a certain number of pages of an already written work in progress.

I participated in Camp for the first time last April. And it was amazing. I set my goal at 25,000 words of a novel, and even that seemed unattainable.  But I hit my goal! And I learned a lot. Not least of which was that I do enjoy writing fiction. That might sound strange, but one of the things holding me back was a fear that I only thought I wanted to write stories. I was worried I was in love with the idea of writing a novel. I still haven’t completely eliminated that fear, but Camp last year definitely helped to boost my confidence. And I had a blast.

This year I am planning on participating in both the April and July camp events. I have a new novel I am going to start in April, and I am once again setting my goal at 25,000 words. My goal is to then continue working on the novel through May and June. Depending on how well the writing goes, I will use July to either finish the first draft or start in on the editing process. I am hoping for the latter. I know that these are some pretty big goals. But I am hoping that Camp will help give me that extra boost of motivation to get moving on my story. After all, the only way I’m going to know if I can write a novel is to actually write a novel.

This year I have spent more time prepping for Camp. I’ve spent most of March deciding on the type of novel I want to write, doing some preliminary research, and starting to work out my outline. Last year my approach was to “pants” my novel (that’s where you write without an outline and just go where the story leads). I enjoyed this approach and I will probably try it again in the future. This year, though, I have decided to work from an outline. I haven’t finished my outline yet, so I don’t know how detailed it will be but it’s already more of a plan than last year.

I have also spent some time thinking about how I want to experience and share camp this year. I’m not going to make any guarantees – my main focus is going to be my novel – but I have some fun ideas for blog posts and social media posts for the next month. I might be writing mostly from home, but I want to bring the idea of Camp and camping into my month. If you don’t want to miss what I have planned, or at least be kept updated on my progress, make sure to follow me here and on Instagram and Facebook. Maybe Twitter? Not going to lie, I’m pretty bad at Twitter.

I am super excited for Camp this year! And now, I am going to go work on my outline.

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