It’s that time of year again. In the northern hemisphere, were coming out of our winter slog in time for spring. Spring means warmer weather, and warmer weather means camping. And for the writers, it’s time to sign up for your cabin, because it’s Camp Novel Writing Month in April!
What is Camp NaNoWriMo?
Camp NaNoWriMo offers the same challenge, though is more geared toward the writer setting their own goal for the month to achieve. This goal might be writing 20,000 words, or editing what they wrote in November, or producing three short stories—anything. The idea is that you set a goal and train yourself to achieve said goal within 30 days.
There are two months during which you can participate in Camp NaNoWriMo: April and July. Camp NaNoWriMo (and NaNoWriMo, for that matter) are completely free to use. They run on donations and by sponsorship from writing-related companies such as Scrivener. And on top of it, they sell some fun swag as well.
Now that you know a little bit about what it is, let’s talk about why you should do it.
8 Benefits of Camp NaNoWriMo
1. Setting Goals
Camp NaNo is an easy way of setting goals to test your durability to stick with it. As a writer, it is essential to have goals. After all, if you start a story, is your goal not to finish it?
Participating in Camp NaNo means that you’re giving yourself a deadline for a specific aspect of your goal. This could be to get x-amount of words of your project done, to finish editing, etc. The idea is that you have a timeframe in which to work.
Furthermore, because this is just Camp, it’s an opportunity to test your goal-setting out. You’re able to pick a “soft” or “lite” goal to achieve in preparation for the bigger goal in November, if you choose to participate in the novel in a month challenge.
2. Habit Forming
Once you develop your goal for the month, you need to know the steps to get it. Does editing your manuscript in the month mean spending three hours a day on it? Does it mean just looking at it once a day and hopefully catching a few things?
Is your goal simply to write for an hour for 30 days?
Whatever your goal is, it is going to require you to structure your days over the month to accommodate the steps to your end goal, which will help you to develop a habit, if you stick to these steps.
Good writing and editing Habits are essential for a successful writing career, and this is a good place to start.
3. Testing Your Habits and Goals
The beauty of Camp NaNoWriMo, especially if you start in April, is that it can be seen as somewhat of a tester month.
During this time, you can see what kind of writing-related goals work well for you, and figure out what habits and steps work for you to make those goals happen.
If what you pick in April didn’t quite pan out, and you know exactly where you went wrong, then you can try again in July. If your goal was right, but the way you went about it didn’t seem to work, then you can revise come July.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for any of the NaNo’s to do this. However, when you’re involved in a massive online challenge with thousands of other writers, it’s pretty inspiring to give it a good shot.
When you sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo, just like going to summer camp, you’re assigned a cabin, which you can meet other writers, or you can have your own private cabin.
These are meant to be not only a way of connecting with people you might not know and thus forming writing-related bonds, but are also meant to be viewed as your own little writing group. You can talk about your plot, you can share samples if everyone is willing, and you can discuss theory—really, whatever you want.
As mentioned before, it isn’t essential to participate in this specific challenge if you’re a writer. You can do this any time you want, any month you want.
However, when you’re participating in something with hundreds of thousands (no exaggeration) of other writers, you’re more motivated to reach the finish line of your goal.
Furthermore, Camp NaNoWriMo provide social media announcements for you. This includes images for your Instagram, blog, Facebook page, newsletter—whatever you want—you have a media package waiting for you. When you announce this and slap that puppy onto your public profile, you are then offering yourself to be held accountable.
One of my favorite ways I’ve seen authors keep themselves accountable is by changing their Twitter display name to their current word count for their projects. Love it!
The nice thing about participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s during the spring and summer months, which means that you might find yourself in a position where you have more time. For students, the July camp falls in the summer, and so they are less likely to have school assignments and reading to worry about.
7. A First Draft
A sloppy first draft is better than no draft at all, and that is the premise of any of the NaNoWriMo’s. It encourages the writer to just get the damn words on the page. Editing is to make it pretty, but you can’t edit what isn’t there. Placing a strict goal on the self is making sure that a draft of some form is done.
I am of the belief that revision is the fun part. But that’s my own unpopular belief.
8. You Can Win
Oh yeah, by the way, as an incentive to get to the finish line, you win.
The only competition in NaNoWriMo is with yourself. There is no “first prize,” but there are prizes if you manage to reach your goal. These generally are given by the sponsors. The prizes vary and change each year depending on the sponsors of the year. However, in the past they have been
- 20% off Dabble
- 50% off Scrivener for winners (and 20% off for all participants)
- Free webinar from Kindle Direct Publishing
- 1 month free from the Great Courses Plus
- 40% off for 2 years of Novlr
- 20% off Scribophile
Just to name a few. Again, these do vary each year, though, I personally have seen the Scrivener offer pretty consistently over the years.
A Personal Take
Note: I am in no way affiliated with Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo. I am just a writer who has found it to be a useful tool. Thus, the opinions I have so far expressed and intend to express in this section, are honest and my own.
I have always endorsed NaNoWriMo since I found out about it in 2011. I have tried and failed many times, but I have also succeeded in it. There are some blogs and writing coaches out there who don’t encourage writers to participate in NaNoWriMo, in any of its forms, because it encourages writers to just get the words down on the page, and doesn’t mention the copious editing that is essential after the first draft is done.
I poo-poo this argument. I feel like it isn’t giving writers enough credit to know that when they’re writing in a flurried I-have-to-get-this-book-out-of-my-head-in-30-days panic, they’ll need to go back and fix a few things. However, I do recognize that there are plenty of first-time novelists out there who believe their first draft is good enough if they just clean up the typos. But I don’t believe that is enough to knock the entire NaNoWriMo concept on the head.
The first rule of NaNoWriMo is to get to the finish line. And for experienced and novice writers alike, it is a constant challenge. It is hard to slog through the difficult bits. It’s painful to write the final scenes of a book and can even stop a writer completely. Setting a goal like this and keeping to it can be essential for a writer completing their manuscript.
If you haven’t already gone to check out Camp NaNoWriMo, go ahead and do so. Read through the forums, see what people have to say about it. Read through the blog—there is ample information about writing and getting through the novel-in-a-month process.
I encourage you to sign up for Camp. Pick a goal, one that seems achievable, and stick to it.
The purpose of this is the above-mentioned benefits, but also so that you can gain that sense of confidence that happens after reaching a finish line of something you set out to do. This can motivate you to keep writing, and to set harder and harder goals in the future, and thus push you as a writer.
Participated in CampNaNoWriMo before? Tell me about it in the comments below, or feel free to contact me filling out the form or clicking here.
Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!