I almost missed the most amazing writing experience of my life last April.
At the mention of “Camp NaNoWriMo,” I scrunched up my nose. I had heard of NaNoWriMo in 2016, which I didn’t do but planned to in 2017. What was this Camp NaNo and why would I have been interested?
I was deep in a plotting project and wasn’t ready to write anything yet. But once I learned what Camp was really about, I jumped right in.
Camp ended up being one of the best writing experiences of my entire life. 😌
But why? What made me decide to jump on board, and why was it so beneficial to my writing journey? Most importantly, should you be doing Camp? Why should you?
Why, I’m so glad you asked. Because otherwise this post would be absolutely pointless. 😂
How Camp Differs from Regular NaNo:
1. You Set Your Own Goal
This was the kicker for me.
I wasn’t writing quite yet. I was plotting, and I didn’t know how to document my progress.
Unlike regular NaNoWriMo, in which come November you aim to write 50,000 words (a novel) in 31 days, your Camp project can be literally anything your writing heart desires.
Because of the different writing projects there might be—plotting, outlining, editing—instead of just documenting your progress in words, you can choose hours, minutes, line, or pages. I chose hours last year.
No matter what you’re doing that’s writing-related, you can do Camp NaNo. You don’t have to be aiming to write a novel.
GUYS. THE CABINS ARE AMAZING.
I met some of the best people on planet earth in these cabins! Unlike regular NaNo, in which your only community is the NaNo forum, cabins are unique to Camp.
You can be placed in a cabin with up to 19 other writers. You can choose to be placed randomly, be invited to a private cabin with people you know or start your own, or not be in one at all.
Community is very important. Even if you’re one of those self-motivated, lone-wolf writers like me who can roll just fine without people:
One chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.
There is strength in numbers, and in a cabin, those numbers happen to be people you all share something in common with: you love to write.
In a cabin, you’ve got fellow writers who are there for you and offer encouragement, advice, and general support. They can help out with motivation, brainstorm problems, or painfully endure your spammy posts in which you rant about some cool plot point your highly questionable brain conjured up at 4 A.M.
(That’s what my cabin mates have to deal with. I wonder why they even invite me back. They deserve medals.)
3. Camp is Twice a Year
While NaNoWriMo is every November, Camp is every April and July. I’ve participated in both and try to schedule my major writing projects to land on those months.
I believe that’s all I have to say about that.
The Pros of Participating in Camp
Outlining a small short story? Editing a historical fiction epic? Plotting the next book in your series? Or wanna try that 50k again? Camp is for you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a writing project; you can still do it. Just have your goal be what remains of your project. If you’re 5k in to that 30k novelette, your goal can be 25k.
Camp is a wonderful opportunity to quit procrastinating, join other like-minded people, and get some work done on your project.
I’m a self-motivated person, so I’ve been shooting big before anybody knew about my goals. But for a lot of people, procrastination is a big issue. When other people are shooting for their goals alongside you, it’s a lot easier to get yours done, too.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
The cabins in Camp give you just that. Especially if you start or are invited to a private cabin; you’ll likely know a few of the people there, make new friendships, and end up with some absolutely epic writing buddies.
I was acquaintances with Chloe and Josie before Camp started, but afterward, there have only been about four or five days that we haven’t talked to each other every. Single. Day. I even met Chloe in real life and it was AWESOME (beware, Josie, I’m coming for you!)
2017 was the best year of my life, and April’s Camp just kicked it off. Oh, it was AMAZING.
Staying up until 4 A.M. and then getting up at 5 A.M. to listen to super incredibly epic music and brainstorm awesomeness? Then finishing my goal before winning even started and using the remaining time to write a 33k novelette? I WANT TO GO BACK AND RE-DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.
If you haven’t experienced Camp before, don’t let the chance pass you by!
Your goal can be custom to your needs, but it should still be something higher up, something you aim to achieve.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.
Camp helps out with that. You’re still aiming to complete that goal by the first of the next month. And you’re not alone, remember? Your goal is easier to complete with other people there to encourage you.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
The Cons of Participating in Camp
In my post outline, I sat in my chair for a solid ten minutes at this. Cons? What cons? I couldn’t think of a single one. I’ve never had a negative experience with my Camp NaNos. But I finally landed upon a possible one:
1. You Might be Tempted to Think Small
There’s no pressure to do 50k words. The minimum is 30 anything, so you could just put 30 minutes, waste time roleplaying with cabin mates, and call it a day.
With regular NaNo, however, you go into it expecting to come out on the other side with 50k (well, if you do the Young Writer’s Program NaNo, you can set your goal lower).
But 99% of people going into Camp won’t be like that so let’s just say THERE ARE NO CONS HEHE.
If you have any writing projects going on, Camp is a no-brainer. You can progress what you’ve already got going on, or finally have a reason to start on that story idea—surrounded by an awesome community of cabin mates.
Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo this April? Why or why not?