Cooking hobo stew in aluminum foil and toasting s’mores while telling ghost stories round a campfire makes for an idyllic night in the woods. At Camp NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), starting and finishing your own fiction project, whether horror or another genre, is the prime motivation for going on this “idyllic writer’s retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” Per Chris Angotti’s email, NaNoWriMo Director of Programs, your project does not have to be a novel–memoirs, scripts and blog series (Hel-lo!) are cool for this challenge. Plus, joining Camp NaNoWriMo is FREE. FREE is good, very good.
Last November in my so-called life, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, through the UCLA Continuing Ed program. Any writer can take part in NaNoWriMo every November at no charge as well, but I needed the weekly in-person pressure of a live classroom to write 1,666 words per day. I crossed the 50,000 word finish line on Day 20 out 30.
In April at Camp NaNoWriMo, the target number of words written is flexible–anywhere from 10,000 to 999,999! For script writers, known as “Frenziers”, the target goal will be 100 pages (250 words per page). I guess the folks who write almost one million words will definitely make the rest of us look like slackers, even if we write, say 500,000 or a mere half-million words in 30 days.
To start, go to: http://campnanowrimo.org/. Set up a user profile detailing as much or as little as you want: your age, location, hobbies, favorite noveling music, occupation, website, favorite book/authors, favorite camp acitivity and/or a brief bio. There’s also a section to voluntarily include specs/info on your project, i.e. title, genre, a synopsis and an excerpt.
At the end of the April, you will upload your novel or script or memoir for word-count verification. Don’t worry, my instructor told our NaNoWriMo class, the site doesn’t actually store your literary masterpiece, it just counts the words, issues the award certificate and moves on to the next writing project for verification. Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that my NaNoWriMo novel Bamboo Moon perched at the top of the New York Times best-seller list??? Just kidding! If only . . .
I’m gonna pull a Virginia-Woolf and tell you stream-of-consciously, that I wish I’d already been a blogger last November. I think it would have been a great precursor to writing spontaneously on a regular basis.
I find the WP blogosphere inspiring and rife with talented, bright, funny, creative people. Every day I’m blown away, and made to feel to incredibly insecure, by what other bloggers put forth in the universe from all over the globe, sometimes in multiple languages.
And, I’m continually amazed at how effortless it can be to find a blogospheric connection with someone I seem to have little in common with at first post. Being able to “Like” and be “Liked” or to make and receive comments near-instantaneously is way cool.
Bonus for me: As a romance/chick lit writer/poet, I revel in the character-rich potential of the WP community: gifted authors/poets/artists/photographers/musicians, adventurous travelers, brilliant scientists, impassioned social and political activists, intense athletes, driven entrepreneurs, etc. And that’s just MY list of Followers. JK, just kidding. Although I do think my followers are much, much smarter than the average bear, Yeah, you are, you really are. I mean that. But, enough wandering To The Lighthouse.This post is getting freaking long.
Another option Camp NaNoWriMo offers is “cabin participation,” the opportunity to bunk with 4 to 6 other campers ” based on genre, age, word-count goal, and desired activity level,” or to be surprised with random roomies for moral support and encouragement when challenges like writer’s block and waves of abysmal despair strike. Looks like cabin-mate assignment starts March 18th, so there’s still time to sign up.
Still hesitant? Worried that you can’t write well enough, or just write enough, period? That’s the beauty of Camp NaNoWrioMo. You just have to write, however much you choose, by the 30th day of April. You don’t have to be an Austen or a Steinbeck or a Murakami or whichever author you hero-worship. You can have typos and bad grammar and characters that are missing, well, “character” or plots with holes so big you could drive a Ford Excursion through with ease.
You can even write stuff like, “Fill in this climactic scene with epic-heroic action to be described when I figure out what that the heck that means.” You can fix all your mistakes and fill in all your blanks and edit to your nitpicky editor’s heart’s content starting on May 1st. If this peppytalk isn’t enough, try perusing Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. He’s THE GUY who came up with the idea for National Novel Writing Month!
Maybe we’ll find each other in same virtual cabin. If so, I’ll bring the gourmet marshmallows and double-dark chocolate cocoa. That reminds me, I’d better go finish my Camp NaNoWriMo registration.
- Packing for Camp NaNoWriMo (ellenvgregory.com)
- Camp NaNoWriMOHHHHHHH (uncombedcats.wordpress.com)
- Writers In[Tents] (theunconventionalhousewife.com)
- NaNoWriMo April 2013 (ramanda429.wordpress.com)
- Is It Camp Season Already? (write-2-be.com)
- Camp NaNoWriMo (ashleyfarley.net)