Camp NaNo

It’s that time of year again: July’s Camp NaNoWriMo!

I think anyone who has ever tried or considered trying NaNoWriMo understands the appeal of dedicated a month to working on a novel. It’s sort of a pact with yourself, a dare, pushing yourself to the limit with an organized way of holding yourself accountable, and rewarding yourself with completion. The classic NaNoWriMo is a brilliant writerly tool, but having done all the different sessions, I have to say that the July Camp is my favorite, easily.

First of all, Camp NaNo sessions have a few legs up on the classic right off the bat. Because they’re based around the concept of summer camp, you get cool features like having a cabin assigned to – or, new this month, forming your own cabin with friends you know either from the internet or in your real life! – that gives you regular encouragement, discusses pitfalls, and just keeps you sane with company during the sometimes lonely act of writing.

Also, NaNoWriMo is limited to 50,000 word goals for novels. Camp NaNo is more flexible. You can edit a previously written work, expand on a previously written work, do a screenplay, even set your own winning goals! So if 50,000 seems like a steep chunk out of your summer, set it for 20,000 and write a novella! Or if you know that without the pressures of school you’ll churn out 50,000 like it’s nobody’s business, there’s people in my cabin with over 120,000 word count goals. Mine’s at 63,000, because that’s my minimum estimated amount for the project I chose to churn out this month.

Also, for those of you who know that there are two months of Camp NaNo every year, you might have also noticed that I specified the July camp as the best. I’ll explain why.

When Camp NaNo started a couple of years ago, it was in June and August. Which was great because they were both technically summer camp months. The problem with that, though, was that you had a NaNo every other month for half the year, and then nothing the rest of the year. So last year, they switch camp to April and July. This is good for people who want to space things out, especially people interested in screenwriting, because April is National Screenwriting Month, so they can use that for their first camp session.

But the problem with April, as with November, is that for those of us who are students and/or work within the school-year system or calendar, those are very busy months. Exams, papers, etc. Life bogs you down in those times of year, and the beauty of a summer camp experience isn’t just the weather: it’s about knowing that there’s nothing on your chest but camp during those weeks.

Of course, for people who work year round with no relenting time in the summers, this might not make a difference. But many countries other than the US have their vacations traditionally in July or August, so it’s sort of nice having a NaNo then, so you know you’ll at least have some time off.

Thus for me, someone who is likely to operate on the school-year schedule for the rest of my working life (woot?), the July Camp NaNo is the ultimate timing, the best set-up, and basically the epitome of Christmas in July.

I’ve written the first three chapters of my project already, putting my other novel project on hold until I’ve got the draft of this one done. I’ll be starting chapter four as soon as I post this blog post, and since I’m many words ahead already, I’ll be trying to give you regular updates on my personal and cabin progress. Should be fun.

Also, are you participating in Camp NaNo? Have questions about NaNoWriMo? Leave a comment! Get involved! Things like this are more fun when you’ve got people to do them with.




About Charlotte Blackwood

Charlotte Blackwood is a self-employed aspiring author working on perfecting her first novella/ first novel. She is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. If you're looking for a reading list (someday she'll add her own works to the list), she's currently supporting Anna Karenina, anything by Dickens, anything by Tolkien, anything by JK Rowling, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Hunger Games.

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