Camp NaNoWriMo anyone?

There are three things I’ve always wanted to do, three things that I view as extremely hard or partially impossible:

  1. Running a full marathon.
  2. Finishing P90X, a fitness program that’s been on my resolutions list for … oh, at least six years.
  3. And finally … becoming a NaNoWriMo finisher!

I can’t remember how many years I’ve signed up for November’s National Novel Writing Month only to barely get past the first few thousand words. Six? Seven? Eight? Well, let’s just say many, many, MANY years. And every time, I have an excuse for not finishing: Because I was on deadline with Beauty Shop for Rent. Because I had to finish Just Flirt. This past year, I dropped my NaNo plans after receiving manuscript notes for a current project from my agent in mid-October. Surely rewriting that was a better use of my time, yes? Yes. And besides, isn’t November the dumbest month for such a project, what, with Thanksgiving, my kids home from college, and the holidays coming up? Yeah, I know, right?

But despite these excuses, my failure to finish mostly came from one simple reason:

I choked.

Now, maybe there’s a chance that NaNoWriMo is not for me after all. Maybe I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t like puking out a manuscript in thirty days like Maggie Stiefvater explained in her hilarious Dear John letter to NaNoWriMo. Maybe my Achilles can’t handle running 26.2 miles. Maybe Tony Horton would get on my nerves and make me want to jump off a cliff after 90 days of P90X. Maybe I should forget these goals and focus on more realistic ones. (Especially since jumping off a cliff would really hurt my writing career with the broken fingers and possibly dying part.) But I can’t. Why? Because I never gave them an honest try.

Enter Camp NaNoWriMo.

Held in April and July, it’s the “lighter” version of NaNoWriMo. Here’s more information from their website:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. Participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word draft during the month of November. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a more open-ended version of our original November event. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers may attempt non-novel projects. Camp is a creative retreat for whatever you’re working on!

Things to like about this:

  • You’re able to tailor the word count and project types to better suit your needs and goals. (I’m sticking with 50,000.)
  • It’s NOT IN NOVEMBER, when my kids come home from college, when I host a crap-ton of folks for Thanksgiving, and spending the following weekend decorating for Christmas!
  • They also have a Camp NaNoWriMo for Young Writers, which is really cool.

I really want to do this.

No, let me rephrase that: I’m going to do this!

No, wait, let me throw in some bold, caps, and possibly offensive language: I’M SO GOING TO FREAKING DO THIS!

(Sorry. Couldn’t help it. The word just felt right so I went for it.)

Anybody care to join me this April? Or, are you planning on doing this in July? For those who have raised their hands, here’s some helpful articles and books to get you prepped, ready, and excited:

Story First, Writing Second – Especially Come November by Lisa Cron on Writer Un-Boxed

Here’s What Both Pantsing and Plotting Miss: The Real Story also by Lisa Cron on Writer Un-Boxed

The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel by Randy Ingermanson. (I’ve used this many, many times over the year but I must admit to hardly ever getting past Step 8.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder which, yes, is targeted for screenwriters but is still extremely helpful for novel writers!

The many videos by The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson, and her blog.

And now it’s your turn. Do you have any advice, links, or book recommendations? Please mention them in the comments below. And if you’re gearing up for either Camp NaNoWriMo month, let us know so we can cheer you on!

Happy writing and drawing, everyone!

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About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, and blogger at As The Eraser Burns, Joyful Miles, and Write, Run, Rejoice. In the past, she's been a waitress, telemarketer, cook, real estate agent, and during her college days, a costumed character at holiday parades. (Memories of being terrorized as a candy cane still haunt her at night.) At the age of thirty, she pursued her dream of being a writer. Her first novel, Beauty Shop for Rent, a “Steel Magnolias for teens,” was inspired by a rusted sign by a charming old house, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane!
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3 Responses to Camp NaNoWriMo anyone?

  1. June Smalls says:

    I think I may give it a try in April. I’ve had this idea poking my brain with a stick and it won’t be ignored. Plus, I preform better when I have a deadline.

    Side note: I did the Insanity (similar to P90X) and I made it 6 of the 8 weeks before I ended up at the doctors with torn muscled in my chest. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, something stops you.

  2. This could not come at a better time. I am finishing up my dissertation and I was just thinking to myself that I wanted to being another book length project, except this one wouldn’t be academic. The awesome thing about April is that all of my work will be under review that month do I have at least three weeks of totally open time. Do you have any resources for planning for NaNoWriMo when you are doing a non fiction book? Or does that not fit into the overall goals of the project?

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