Camp Nanowrimo

This year I have decided to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. If you have never heard of it, Nanowrimo is short for national novel writing month. Normally, Nanorwrimo takes place in the fall, and the goal is to finish 50,000 words in a month. Camp Nanowrimo differs in that you only set a goal of however many pages you want to write. In my case, it’s 15,000 words, which means to meets to meet that goal, I have to write about 500 words a day.

Typically, I don’t do Nanowrimo. When I first heard the premise of it a few years ago, I scoffed at it. My friend, who was taking a full load of university classes at the time, was on the brink of tears daily because she couldn’t juggle all of her coursework and writing about 1,667 words a day. It didn’t seem like it was worth the stress. In the spring, I was invited by my fellow writer friend Kate M. Colby to participate in the first session of Camp Nanowrimo. Still dubious about the idea, I joined and gave myself a goal of 15,000 words. Unfortunately, it was April, which is the big crunch before final papers and projects were due. I updated exactly once the entire month. It was demoralizing to say the least to watch the number you needed per day to meet your goal grow while you can only type out a hundred words or so a day while writing a twenty page essay. Too bad the paper didn’t count toward my Nanowrimo goal.

Once again, Kate invited me to be part of her cabin for July Nanowrimo. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it again. I had been having writers block on and off with The Earl and the Artificer and wasn’t really getting anyway. My anxiety was rising because I need to turn it in to my professor/advisor at some point since it’s my thesis project. Did I really want to add stress by tacking on a daily word count? Hesitantly, I agreed. The worst I could do was not write and drag the cabin’s word count down (sorry, cabin mates).

I am so happy I did. In my last post (June in Review), I mentioned that one of my goals for July is to stop focusing on perfection and focus on writing. My perfectionist tendencies were holding me back and paralyzing my writing. With my Camp Nanowrimo writing, I know I need to write about 500 words per day to meet my goal. In the big scheme of things, 500 words isn’t that much and comes out to maybe half a page to a page, depending on whether the scene is dialogue-heavy. Thus far, I have written 2,035 words in the past 3 days, and while that isn’t much for some writers, it’s probably more than I have written for that book in two weeks.

Why does it work? I’m not a hundred percent sure. Part of it, I think, is that there are other writers in your cabin doing the same thing. You aren’t all going for the same goal, but you’re all writing. There’s a message board where you can post or ask for help or congratulate someone else on doing well with their goals. It’s a bit of synergy even if you aren’t close by. Everyone sets a goal that is specific to them, so there isn’t any peer pressure to write 60,000 words in a month. It’s relaxing, and because I don’t have any classes or pressing work, I can leisurely write and update my progress without worrying when I’m going to squeeze it in. One of the things I have noticed while working toward my Camp Nanowrimo goal is that I do my most productive writing from 11 PM to 1:30 AM. I think it’s easier to focus once everyone else (including the dogs) has gone to bed, and at that point, I’m a little tired and am not as uptight about my work. The next day, I do a little tinkering before I work again on my next session.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo or any writing retreats this summer?


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