As I’ve shared before, I’ve tried NaNoWriMo. And I’ve not succeeded at NaNoWriMo.
And then the most amazing thing happened.
NaNoWriMo gave me something new to do. Camp!
Whereas traditional NaNo is well defined (50,000 words, win or fail), Camp NaNo is a choose your own adventure.
- Don’t think of your manuscript as being x number of words? Set a goal by pages.
- Are you a poet? Set a goal by lines.
- Do you want to capture all the time you spend on writing – drafting, reading about craft, revising etc.? Set a goal by hours, or even minutes.
- Are you ready to draft your book but you know 50k is too much? Set a unique goal by words.
You also get cabins – you can join a cabin of people you don’t know, or create your own private cabin. Both come with a clear view of your cabin mate’s stats and private message boards to cheer each other on.
The first time I did Camp, I set a goal for 30 hours, with the hope of working on writing an hour a day. Even though I knew I was ready to write something, a word goal just didn’t feel right, because I didn’t know what it would be – was I going to start my middle grade magic story (likely to be around 40k) or my YA fantasy (likely to be 65k)? Also, I wasn’t really ready to start drafting – I knew this time around I wanted to spend more time ‘in development.’
The goal was actually a lot more ambitious then it even sounds – I was going away for a week long work trip so I already knew there would be at least 5 hours I would have to make up. Along with the job, I have young children – a little more than an hour a day on average would be tough. But my cabin mates were there, ready to cheer my on (and I was ready to give them the pep talks they needed).
And so I started. Slowly. Truthfully it was hard at first. I still wasn’t sure what I was working on so I felt stuck – stuck on what to pick, because I needed to get started. Camp NaNo also includes project stats and tracking, and they show you how you’re doing compared to the daily average you’d need to hit your goal. I was looking at an empty page and a graph that showed me clearly just how far behind I was.
But then things started to open up. I decided that reading and watching videos about craft counted as part of my hourly goal – it was helping me improve as a writer and I finally got to see that bar graph crawl upward in the right direction.
That movement improved my mood, and with some of the new tools I was gaining I started drafting out my two books to see which was more inspiring. I drafted a query letter to see if I was gripped by how I thought the book would flow. I picked which book I would work on. I watched Brandon Sanderson’s course videos while I pedaled on my stationary bike. That last week I spent hours at the local coffee shop, writing and craft learning (my mother-in-law was in town, and she watched the kids).
And I did it. I did it! I hit that 30 hours, was declared a winner, and earned my badge.
And I’m still going. I know what book I’m working on, and I’m making strides. And now it’s time for another camp! This time I’m much more in the generation and writing phase of my novel, but I’m still going for a 30 hour goal because I love the flexibility of knowing that sitting and writing notes and noodling about my characters counts toward my goals.
See you around the campfire!