If you’re looking for a way to kick-start a writing project or get into a writing routine, Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a great place to do both – and it’s free.
NaNoWriMo has always been about helping writers do what they long to do – just write. Many writers have a hard time keeping focused and staying committed to a goal. For some, simply setting aside the time to write is the hardest task. I’m one of those writers. Having a project to work on isn’t enough for me. But something odd happens when I make a commitment through NaNoWriMo. I actually accomplish my goals.
For each of the three years I took up the novel-writing challenge, I wrote a 50,000-word draft of a novel. In 2013, I completed twelve short stories split between two Camps. It has worked for me.
Having tried the regular NaNoWriMo in November and the two camp programs that begin every year on April 1 for 30 days and July 1 for 31 days, I’ve found the Camps work better for me because of their flexibility and the time of year they occur (November is a killer month).
Here are some of the reasons to sign up for Camp:
Flexible Word Count
You pick the word-count goal for the month. You’re not stuck with a preset goal of 50,000 words – what do you want to accomplish? Update your count on the site everyday. It keeps track of how many words you’ve written and a total of how many are left to write, with a new daily goal to shoot for when you sit down to write again and a nifty chart to watch your progress.
Pick Your Project
Camp is not just about novels. Write a collection of short stories. Start on your memoir. Brainstorm and draft 30 days of blog posts. Pen one epic poem, or dozens. You can even use Camp to research and outline a new project or revise one that’s already in draft stage. To keep track of word count for editing and research, follow these guidelines: one hour of active editing equals 1,000 words; for scripts and graphic novels, one page equals 150-200 words.
Camaraderie: Get Involved (or Not)
Be a member of a virtual cabin by choosing writers of your same genre and age group, or have a private cabin with the writing buddies you choose. If you prefer to go it alone, that’s doable, too.
Encouragement & Incentives
Pep talks, writing resources, forums, weekly virtual write-ins. And some great incentives for those who give it their best shot, as well as those who meet their goals (such as 50% off the price of Scrivener). Let’s not forget the banners and badges for display on Facebook, Twitter, and your website, plus a winner’s certificate at the end.
Camp NaNoWriMo is billed as “an idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” If you want some help on this crazy writer’s journey, give Camp a try. It could be what you need to make headway on your goals AND get into the writing habit.
What are your experiences with NaNoWriMo? What do you do to stay committed on your writer’s journey?