Camp NaNo

Today I’m going to explain about what Camp NaNo is and my experience with it. I’ll be keeping a progress box to the top right of this blog.

What is Camp NaNo? In case you don’t know, every year there’s this online writing event called NaNoWrimo. It stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” It’s held during the month of October. Writers (professional and aspiring) then sign up on the website, join groups of writers in their areas, and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel.

Some of the writers meet up in person or online and write together to reach their goal. Some writers meet up just to talk about how NaNo is going and give advice. Some writers go it alone with encouragement from other writers and family and friends.

If you complete NaNo, not only do you have the satisfaction of completing an entire novel in month, you also get some freebies. They change from year-to-year, but last year the prizes was a chance to get five free copies of the novel you send in and a discount on this really awesome writing program that I already own and use called Scrivener.

This year, I learned about Camp NaNo, which is basically just like NaNo except it’s done in June and August. I guess to make it easier for people who don’t have school or work during the summer. The goal is the same: write a 50,000 word novel. I don’t think there are any prizes for completing it, but a finished novel or two is a prize in itself.

My experience with NaNo last November was very positive. I’d had a book idea months ahead that I’d been really excited to start. So excited that I almost started it before NaNo. But I managed to wait and am glad I did. Writing it was fun. My only dislike was that I finished my book before I finished the word count, so I had to go back and write more.  It’s something I hope I never have to experience again. A lot of writers think it’s hard, but I think it depends on what’s going on in your life. I didn’t have too much going on then so I didn’t find it too hard.

Now this month is another story. My life’s a little busier and making word counts daily has been hard (and non-existent for one day). I’m not really thrilled with my book so far, but I think I will be once I get to a certain point. I’m also participating in Camp NaNo for August so I hope to have two completed books this summer.

So if you’re a writer, I advise you to join Camp NaNo or at least, NaNoWrimo. It might be hard at times, but the end result is worth it. Lots of published authors have even used it to complete their latest books (Holly Black’s White Cat and Melissa Meyer’s Cinder are two examples).

So what’s my advice if you decide to do Camp NaNo/November NaNo?

  • Have an idea of what you want to write at least a month before NaNo.
  • Have your outline finished before NaNo, unless you plan to wing it. You may not follow the outline (this is typically what happens to me) but it’s good to have an idea of where you’re going. And it’s totally legal to do the outline before NaNo, just not any writing that you plan to use in your book.
  • Try to write daily. Keep up with your word count, how much you have left, and how many days are left.
  • Let family, friends, or other participating writers know where you’re at in your goal so they can encourage you.
  • Take breaks.
  • Meet some of the participating writers online or in person to talk, write, or just encourage one another.
  • Word war with something. What’s a word war? Basically you need at least one more person. A group of people works well, too. It’s best to do this online. Basically you time yourselves to write for a certain period of time (5 minutes, 10 minutes, you get the idea) and then you share with the other person(s) what you wrote. It’s a good way to get glimpses of their books and to make your daily quota for your word count. It’s also fun. You can do this through e-mail, Facebook groups, Facebook messages, forums, or any other way you can find to communicate with someone.
  •  Don’t be too dejected if things aren’t going well. This isn’t a popularity contest. This is for fun, for you, for your book. Just because you’re having trouble this time doesn’t mean it will always be like this. Do what you can and go with it.
  • Most Important: Have Fun!

If you’re interested in seeing what my project is about, please check under the “About My Stories” tab.


J.N. Cahill

Writer. Artist. Dreamer.


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