July is Camp NaNoWriMo Month. (NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month.) I have a small project going, nothing too daunting. So why would I want to do NaNoWriMo twice in one year?
First of all, camp is relaxed, not an ordeal. You are only tied to the loose goals you set for yourself. You can choose any kind of project, whatever word count goal you feel comfortable with, and there is no pressure.
This year, I declared I would write 30,000 words, and my project began as a series of short stories, but now I don’t really know what it is. But you could declare your intention to write as few as 100 words.
Camp NaNoWriMo is a training camp that happens every year in July. If you plan to write a 50,000-word novel next November, you may find it harder to make time for writing than you planned. Participating in a Camp helps you develop time management skills before November’s big deal.
The website, https://nanowrimo.org, offers Camp Counselors to help you through the difficulties of developing a writing routine. They have a terrific team of published authors to act as your guides, cheerleaders, and mentors during each Camp NaNoWriMo session. This year, they share advice via Camp Care Packages and live events. They’re doing Instagram takeovers, Zoom meetups, and more throughout July.
We know that daily writing is more manageable once it becomes a habit. Making the best use of your time requires a little self-discipline, which is something we all could use a bit more of.
If you are interested in participating, the link for that is https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo. To participate in Camp, just announce a project, then make sure to check “Associate with a NaNoWriMo Event” and select the current year’s Camp NaNoWriMo event.
It’s the middle of July, but you could choose to write 10,000 (or fewer) words. Once you’ve done that, you should be ready to start your project. You’ll be able to start tracking your writing on their website.
The site will automatically confirm your win when you reach your writing goal. You will receive a certificate celebrating your achievement, along with other winner goodies.
Do you want to connect with other authors? If so, you could become part of the broader NaNoWriMo writing community by participating in their forums. Check out the Camp NaNoWriMo forums.
Also, you have the option to start or join an existing writing group. Check out the “Writing Groups, Assemble” forum for open groups and much more.
Whenever we begin talking about NaNoWriMo, I always feel the need to mention saving your files. If you are a new author or are unfamiliar with using a computer or electronic notepad, saving your files is an important habit to develop.
Participating in camp is a great way to develop the good habits that will save your sanity farther down the road:
- Even if you don’t have a title, name your manuscript with a good, descriptive working title, such as The_Vampire_Story. You can call it something else later.
- Never deletea manuscript. If you suddenly decide to make such radical changes that you need to start over, save it in the same master file but with a new descriptive name:
Save each new version separately so that you don’t lose the work you might need later if you change your mind.
Losing your files is a traumatic experience. Some authors lose several years of work in a surprise computer crash, which is an unimaginable tragedy. Entire manuscripts can go missing when a thumb drive is lost, or a hard drive is corrupted.
You must save regularly. This won’t be a problem if you are using a Chromebook or working out of Microsoft’s OneDrive. But if you’re using an ordinary word-processing program such as Word or Open Office, you should hit that ‘save’ button regularly.
I use a file hosting service. I have a lot of images on file, so I pay for an expanded version, but file hosting services have free versions that offer you as much storage as a thumb drive. I like using a file hosting service because my work can’t be lost or misplaced and is always accessible.
I work out of those files, so they are automatically saved and are where I want them when I close my programs. But you can use any storage system that is free to you–Google Drive, OneDrive, or a standard portable USB flash drive.
The important thing is to save regularly.
The story I am currently working on is set in the Tower of Bones world. It began as a short story but edged into novella length (go figure). It’s nearly done and currently sits at just under 20,000 words.
In previous years I repurposed outtakes from existing projects. These were chapters, about 1500 words in length, that I cut because they had taken my novel in the wrong direction. With character name changes, two of my outtakes grew into novellas set in that world.
The option to repurpose work that no longer fits is why I never discard any manuscript.
A great deal of what I discuss here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy is how I devise a plot, build a world, and create characters. I like to do these things in advance of November, spending a few days on that part of the project.
But maybe you prefer to write by the seat of your pants. That is how I write poetry, so I understand “the joy of pantsing.” My favorite characters came into existence in 2010 for my first NaNoWriMo. Writing what became the Billy’s Revenge series was an exhilarating experience. I began with no plot, no characters, and no idea of where that story was going.
But that first book was a nightmare to edit and straighten out. It became three books, Huw the Bard, Billy Ninefingers, and Julian Lackland.
The experience I gained in 2010 taught me that a bit of advanced preparation means I won’t lose sight of my story arc when I sit down to write it in November. Participating in Camp NaNoWriMo helps writers get organized and also gives you the confidence that you can finish a project.
There are 20 days left in July:
- Perhaps you will add 10,000 words to that unfinished novel.
- Or maybe you will write a haiku each day.
Whatever you choose, set a reasonable goal and have fun with it. Camp is a writing free-for-all, something I do that takes me out of the ordinary grind.