About a year ago, I saw this bandied about on Twitter for the very first time. I frowned at the abbreviation, trying to puzzle it out. People asked about who was going and talked about their cabins. Of course I was picturing a real-life cabin with a bunch of writers piled inside, blinds drawn down, huddling on their beds with their laptops perched on their knees, faces awash in the electronic glow of their screens.
I was way off base.
For those new on the writing scene, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo takes place in November, and Camp NaNoWriMo sessions take place in April and July. An important note here is these are virtual sessions, so anyone can participate. The November session has writers hurtling towards a goal of 50k words, whereas the April and July sessions are more open-ended and allow the writer to set a goal for themselves ranging from 10K to 1 million words. (Side note: Anyone who can spit out 1 million words in 30 days is some type of crazy word ninja.) As well, during Camp NaNoWriMo, you can create or join a cabin comprised of 10 other writers who can cheer you on (or guilt you when you’re falling behind your goal).
Why in the world would you want to do this?
Sometimes the hardest part of writing is actually getting words on the page. Or even finding the time to sit down at the computer (or notebook, or the back of that Wendy’s receipt if that’s your thing). With Camp NaNoWriMo, you’re committing to a certain word goal. You’re working on a (fictitious) deadline. You’re committing to dedicating time to your craft. And if you can stick with it for thirty days? If you can meet your goal? Well, not only does that feel damn good, but you’re well on your way to making it a habit.
Enthusiasm. Determination. Dedication.
That’s not to say that NaNoWriMo is for everyone. Not everyone is a fast-drafter, and that is perfectly okay! Finding your own pace and what works for you is super important. Don’t let anyone try and tell you that there’s only one way to write. Everyone does it differently. My writing habits even fluctuate from book to book. Go with what works and don’t worry about anyone else. Write for you.
However, if you’re so inclined, give Camp NaNoWriMo a go. Set yourself a reasonable goal and have at it. As for me, I’ll be participating in this April’s Camp NaNoWriMo and keeping my fingers crossed that I reach my self-imposed finish line.