If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, let me introduce you to a world of creativity, productivity, and caffeine. In November, when NaNo proper takes place, you will find me a drooling, tired, ecstatic mess. It’s harrowing, exciting, and so much fun. I am rarely happier than when I’m writing, as opposed to my current revision nightmare. Every year I learn something new about NaNo, writing, or myself. I love it and never want to miss another year.
But November is a long way away (especially in December, when I’m usually worn out, yet already looking forward to the next NaNo).
During the months of April and July, the folks who run NaNoWriMo hold two sessions of Camp NaNo. Essentially, that just means extra sessions for people who want the experience, fun, or push of NaNo more than once a year. Or an alternative time for those who can’t participate in November.
I am a huge NaNo geek, though I know at least one person who’s even more crazy about it than I am. However, I do strongly prefer the November event to Camp. I’m sure when November approaches I’ll write enough about NaNo to annoy most people. But there’s still something to be said for Camp, and since the July session starts soon, it seemed like a good topic for my first “Write Every Day” post.
Camp NaNo has more differences from proper NaNo than just warmer temps. For example, as more people participate in November, the social aspect is much bigger then. During Camp, there aren’t likely to be regional events (though some bigger regions may still have stuff going on). The forums that are busy and crowded during the fall are still available, but the focus is on camp cabins–smaller groups of Wrimos urging each other on throughout the month.
Another big difference is that during Camp, you can set your own word count goal. While that can include raising your goal beyond 50,000 words, the real benefit is being able to attempt a smaller amount. For me, November is a month of intense creative output, during which I shirk a lot of other responsibilities. My husband and kids are warned up front that I’ll be hiding away a lot, chores are neglected, and I even go into work less (I work for my dad and have a lot of flexibility in my schedule). I can get away with all of that for one month out of the year, but wouldn’t want to push it past that. So for Camp, I set myself a lower goal that still forces me to work more than my average amount when left to my own devices.
There is also one more difference between Camp and proper NaNoWriMo, but I’ll admit this one is probably only from my perspective. There are rules for NaNoWriMo, but not everyone strictly follows them. Some people rebel, writing several short stories, two books at once, nonfiction, screenplays, or even comic books. I know someone who during NaNo wrote the script for a computer game she was making with a friend. I’m a complete traditionalist during November, attempting to write at least 50,000 words of a new, single work of fiction. Camp is when I let myself rebel. I’ve participated in four sessions of Camp, and each one was used for revision. A big push forward on the work I’ve been dragging my feet through for over a year. That’s how you’ll find me again come July, though I do plan to change it up a little this time.
Write for yourself: Okay, so the obvious thing to say here is, “Participate in Camp NaNo!” And yes, that was obviously the point of this post. Camp starts in ten days, and it can be difficult to jump into an event like that with little warning. (Though plenty of people, myself included, have joined NaNo after only hearing about it in October, sometimes days before, and survived.) Just remember, you can set your goal to whatever you want, to give it a try with less stress, or if you’re not sure you could write enough on this short notice, or whatever else excuse you may have. As I understand it, they’ve recently changed cabin formation so that you can actually set up a cabin with a group of people of your choosing (it used to be largely random). If you decide to sign up, or if you’re already a participant and have no cabin yet, we can form our own. Just let me know your username, and we can spend the month encouraging each other!
Then, at summer’s end, consider turning your mind toward NaNo proper. You wouldn’t believe the fun, community, and productivity you can get out of the event. I’ll be back to this topic in a few months.
If you’re not a fiction writer, or simply have other creative pursuits you wouldn’t mind the same kind of push for, look around for something more up your alley. As I understand it, there are events like this for a lot of areas (FAWM for musicians, VEDA for video blogging, PiBoIdMo for picture book writers, and all sorts of others. Seriously, just do some research, you may find an event for your creative output).
What are your thoughts on events like these? Do you participate, stay away, or simply have no opinion? I know they’ve become a fad and some people are thoroughly against them. Let me know what you think.