Hold Onto Your Butts: Camp NaNoWriMo Starts Soon!

If you’re a writer, you probably already know what NaNoWriMo is. For those of you who don’t write, or have heard the name “NaNoWriMo” and have no clue what it is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo is traditionally held in November of every year. Writers sign up (for free — though donations are welcome) at the website (nanowrimo.org), and they can track their progress as they write their novel. The goal is to get to 50,000 words in 30 days, starting midnight of November 1 and ending at 11:59:59pm on November 30.

Now, November is kind of a hectic time to write a full rough draft of a novel. It starts the day after Halloween (yikes, hangovers — uhh, candy hangovers of course), and throughout the month people are busy doing Christmas shopping, cooking for Thanksgiving, hosting family from out-of-town… Not to mention, if you are a high school or college student, you’ve probably got all this to do, plus finals to prepare for and a bunch of papers to write.

So a few years ago, the founders of NaNoWriMo created a spinoff. “Camp NaNoWriMo” (at a different website — campnanowrimo.org) takes place in both April and July. (Of course, these months aren’t exactly holiday-free, but generally people spend a lot less time celebrating Easter or the Fourth of July than they do celebrating Thanksgiving.) April Camp is the same length as traditional NaNoWriMo obviously, but in July you get the extra day of July 31st to finish your novel.

And the awesome thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that your goal doesn’t have to be 50,000 words and you don’t just have to write a novel. You can choose to write short stories, poems, screenplays, nonfiction — or you can choose the “revision” category, which allows you to rewrite/edit a rough draft of something you’ve already written. You can choose to write less than 50,000 or even more than 50,000 words, or (new this year!) you can choose to measure your goal by hours, lines, or pages. There’s a field to enter your own personalized word count goal in the Edit Project Info page.

Camp NaNo also offers the fun of “cabins.” These are groups of writers that are either assigned to you or chosen by you, who can support and encourage each other throughout the month. Admittedly, these can be kind of hit-or-miss, because sometimes the cabin you’re assigned turns out to be a dud. But if you have friends doing Camp NaNo, you can invite them to your cabin! You communicate with your cabin through what is essentially an instant messaging system on the Camp NaNo site.

Anyway, I’m writing this blog post because I have some news: I am doing Camp NaNoWriMo April 1-30! And I am so, so, SO excited because this month is different for me.

As many of you well know, I’ve been working on a fantasy/dystopian novel called The World As It Should Be (previously called The Granddaughters) since I completed the rough draft back in November 2015 for traditional NaNoWriMo. I made it to 50,000 words — and a little bit beyond. After that, I put that manuscript (and creative writing in general) on hold for about a year so that I could complete graduate school. Since graduating, I’ve been editing the novel here and there when I can.

I want to use Camp NaNo for an additional incentive to edit faster.

So far, over the course of about a month and a half, I’ve edited/rewritten about 115 pages. That’s over 41,000 words!

Considering that the standard fantasy novel is 80,000-100,000 words these days, I’m making 100,000 words my goal for April. I won’t only be editing scenes; I’m also writing whole new ones, taking crappy ones out, and significantly rewriting what I already have. I have a lot of work ahead of me! But I’m already a little under halfway through. (Yeah, okay, I’m cheating a little bit and getting a head start with about 41,000 words already under my belt, but there are no real rules for Camp NaNo — except to write your damn book!)

If you would like to join my cabin, please feel free to message me at Lee Ann K on the Camp NaNo or the NaNoWriMo website. (Or you can post a comment here.)

And here at TS&TK you can look forward to the occasional Camp NaNo pep talk throughout the month of April. Maybe. If I’m not too busy scrambling towards 100K. (I think it’s doable.)

Good luck, and happy writing!

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