If you’re like me, you enjoy writing and have a novel or two floating around in your head. I’m sure many of us have tried to write them, but when you’re busy with work and family and social obligations, it can be really hard to find the time to write. Camp NaNoWriMo is here to help.
They even have a Young Writer’s Program you can check out here.
I haven’t been an avid participant of Camp NaNoWriMo before, leaning towards the official event in November in the past. But to date, I’ve successfully participated in Camp NaNoWriMo three times and this July marks my fourth.
It’s also a great way to meet new people who share the same passion for writing as you do, and everyone there has so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work at all. Plus, even if you don’t finish, it’s still a great experience because of all the support from your fellow campers—even just being able to say that you started something is a huge accomplishment!
Camp NaNoWriMo takes place twice a year: once in April and once again in July. All you gotta do is choose which one you want to participate in—or try your hand at both!
You can then:
- Sign up and choose your project genre and word count goal.
- Choose from many available “cabins” to join, which are groups of other campers who are working on similar projects.
- Set up a “cabin” for yourself and your friends to work in as a group.
I’m doing Camp NaNo this July and here are five reasons why you should consider joining me (it’s never too late!)
#1. Camp NaNoWriMo is free.
Camp NaNoWriMo is the perfect place for any aspiring novelist to unleash their creativity. The event is 100% free to join, and it’s an excellent way to take your writing skills outside the comfort zone of your usual space.
Read about how Camp NaNo has made a difference in participant’s life here.
You don’t have to even go outside your house and attend the write-ins if you don’t want to—you can just set the whole thing up on your computer and write without leaving your chair.
And you’ve got the whole month of July to join in the fun! That’s more than enough time to really make something great happen, but if you get behind, no worries—the site lets you work at whatever pace you like.
And best of all, when you’re done writing, there’s no need to stress about what comes next! You might even find that you become inspired by all the creative people around you (virtually as it may be).
#2. You set your own goal to win.
Camp NaNoWriMo is, in ways, the laidback, fun cousin of the stricter NaNoWriMo, which is all about the numbers: 50,000 words in a month. For some people, that’s no problem, but for others—ahem, for us novelists who like to take our time and not feel pressured into writing more than we can write well—it can be a bit daunting.
If you’re a writer who has limited time to write, Camp NaNo is your next-best option to November NaNoWriMo. Why?
Because with Camp NaNo, you have the freedom to choose your own word count goal! While NaNoWriMo has a fixed word count goal of 50,000 words for everyone, Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own goal—anywhere from 1,000 words a day to 2,000 or more.
You can stick with it for as long as you want and take breaks at any time. Camp is just as much fun as the official NaNoWriMo event because it’s about the same thing—getting written work done in an amount of time that seems impossible. The key is to set your own rules and schedule so it works best for you.
#3. You can write anything you want during Camp NaNoWriMo.
It doesn’t have to be a novel or even a formatted story. It could be a short story or a poem or even just a random stream-of-consciousness rambling. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, it could be an initial draft for your magnum opus—you get to decide.
The point is that it’s not about what you write as much as it is about getting yourself into the habit of writing every day, giving yourself permission to experiment with different styles, formats of writing, and giving to fall in love with words.
You could use it as an opportunity to pursue your dream of being a poet or a playwright by writing an entire play in November. You could start out by using it as a writing prompt, a way to explore what you want to say or how you want to say it, and then take that idea and expand it into a full novel later on (after all, there’s no rule that says you can’t edit it down).
You could use it as an excuse to finish up that screenplay that’s been sitting on your hard drive for years. Or you could just use the structure of the challenge and the support system of strangers all around the world who are taking part in the same crazy endeavor as you as an opportunity to write whatever your heart desires.
So, why not give Camp NaNo a try?
#4. You can earn badges for your novel and characters.
You should know that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating your successes. I’ve got a Google Drive folder full of participation certificates from NaNo over the years.
There’s something inherently rewarding about receiving a badge or a certificate. It’s like getting an achievement you can actually see that shows how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown.
The whole point of this challenge is to encourage you to write every single day for that month. If you can complete this task, then you are eligible for a reward at the end of it. If you’re the winner, you’ll get a shiny certificate with the signatures from the founding team of NaNoWriMo signed out to you!
You can print, laminate and proudly display if you want or add to your growing collection of NaNoWriMo participation certificates.
For example, I have this one from 2016 which I got when I participated in my first camp event.
#5. They have virtual pep talks and writing sprints to keep you moving.
If you’ve ever been to a writing camp that’s staffed by professional writers, you know the one thing they love to do the most: talk about writing. That’s right! The NaNo community has so much advice to give in. All that inspiration can be hard to take in when you’re staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page.
In theory, we’d be able to set our own schedules and stick to them, but in practice there are a million distractions that pull us away from our word counts. When we’re not working, we’re often making plans to go out with friends, watching TV shows and movies, reading our favorite blogs, or playing console games. Each of these things is fun in its own right and can help us decompress after a day of work, but when they become displacements for writing time, it can be hard to stay on task.
From one aspiring author to another: you aren’t alone. We’ve all been where you are now—feeling like we don’t have enough time for the things we want to do and feeling guilty about the things we do have time for. But at Camp NaNo, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fellow writers who want you to succeed just as much as you do—and if you’re not sure what your next step should be or how you’ll get there from here, they’ll be happy to help you figure it out. And if they aren’t available at the moment, their virtual presence still counts.
You can check out the NaNoWriMo Twitter page for writing sprints and join in on the community fun!
Camp out with us today!
Whether you’re a seasoned writer or someone who hasn’t yet found his or her literary voice, Camp NaNo is a great opportunity to get started on that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
You’ll be able to take a break from your everyday routine and get away from all those distracting screens, while still being able to craft captivating stories, create memorable characters and find peace with yourself and the world around you.
Camp NaNoWriMo is like a practice run for novels, so take advantage of it now before it passes you by! It’s a great way to try the experience of National Novel Writing Month without having to commit to the whole thing before you’re ready.