Chances are, if you've spent any amount of time around other writers, you've heard of National Novel Writing Month, an online writing event that attracts hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world each year. The event takes place in November and each participant pledges to write 50,000 words of new fiction in 30 days. I, myself, have participated in the event eight times and have become addicted to the rush of immersing myself so deeply into my story, the sense of community, and accomplishing so much in such a short amount of time.
But what if November isn't a good month for you to throw all real-life commitments to the wind?
A common complaint I hear amongst writer friends is that November is an impossible (or near impossible) month for them to focus on their works-in-progress, with Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping and travel. Seemingly in response to these complaints, in 2011, the NaNo team introduced a new event called Camp NaNoWriMo, a similar challenge that takes place in two different months each summer.
As popular as NaNoWriMo proper is, I find that many writers still haven't heard of Camp so today, I'd like to tell you more about it, the differences between the November event and the summer events, and why it might be the perfect way to make substantial progress on your work-in-progress this summer.
1. It happens in April and July.
If you are one of those people who have very busy Novembers, you have two new opportunities to make the most of this energizing online challenge. July, in particular, is perfect for teachers and students who have more free time outside of the school year. Plus July gives you the added benefit of an extra day in the month. If you're a mom, though, summer might not be much better for you, with the kids home from school, which brings me to my next point...
2. You can set your own goal.
Unlike the November event, which has a pre-determined word count and pre-determined writing form, Camp NaNoWriMo frees you up to work on any project and set any goal. You can write non-fiction, short stories, or poetry. Or if you've already completed your first draft, you can set a revision goal instead. Track your progress by words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages, with a goal of anywhere between 20 and a million (I wish!). So if you've ever wanted to participate in the November event but have been too intimidated by the idea of 50,000 words, Camp might be the perfect challenge for you.
(Be sure to check out my Writing & Revision Tracker if you want to set and track your goals on your desktop during Camp or any month of the year!)
3. Connect with a tighter-knit community.
My favorite thing about any NaNo event is the connection to a community with a common goal. During November, though, some might find it difficult to navigate and keep up with the many forums available and the hundreds of thousands of people chiming in. But during Camp, you are placed into a "Cabin," which is a private forum that holds no more than 20 participants and creates a much more intimate experience. You can even create a private cabin with your friends!
(If you decide to participate and would like to join me and my group of private cabins, come on over to our Facebook group, The Motivated Writer!)
I don't know about you, but we're definitely hitting that point in my house when summer is proving to be less productive than I hoped it would be, and the kids and I are all getting a little antsy. If you're ready to shake things up a bit and get back on track with your writing, check out Camp NaNoWriMo, and see if it's a good fit for you!
Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this July? What are you working on and what is your goal?
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Jamie Raintree is an author and a writing business teacher. She is also a mother of two girls, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. Her debut novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017 by Graydon House. Subscribe to her newsletter for more writing tips, workshops, and book news. To find out more, visit her website.