If you have been following this blog for forever, then you should know what NaNoWriMo is. If you haven’t, you may anyhow, but my experience has been a lot of blank stares where I mention it. If you are a writer and don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, then it is time I introduced you.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in November every year. The idea is to challenge novelists and aspiring novelists to write a novel in one month by putting 50,000 words of original content on the page between November 1st and November 30th. There is an online community, where you can sign up for NaNoWriMo, donate to the cause (which you don’t have to do to participate), buy some inspiring swag, and then enjoy the benefits of community. The benefits? Daily inspirational emails. Local meet-ups and write-ins. An assigned small group where you can chat back and forth to ask questions and encourage one another. And—the best part—real-time tracking. Every time you get more words on the page, you update your word count in a little box and NaNo shows you graphs and numbers telling you just where you are in your goal and how to accomplish your goal at your current rate, etc. I love these numbers and graphs.
It is not November. But NaNo has come up with something else which I have used for the past several years, off and on. In order to offer more opportunities at writing-mania throughout the year and offer opportunities to write to a more tailored writing goal, Camp NaNoWriMo was born. It is essentially the same thing as NaNoWriMo, just in April and July, and with the option to write to a different number than 50,000 words.
Since I am currently homeschooling, volunteering, and even planning overseas travel, I decided that 20,000 words in April would be an amazing feat.
It is Day Three. I actually skipped Day One because it was Easter and my nephew’s birthday. I had three hours at the mall on Day Two (while my teenage daughter hung out with a friend) and so I got ahead of myself. Tonight, I plan on attending a write-in and I imagine I will be ahead by the end of spring break. Then hopefully not behind as the month stretches out.
Officially, NaNo is designed for you to sit down with a brand new project and create a rough draft of a new book. A complete rough draft would be ideal. I have used NaNo this way, and wrote nearly all of The Night of 100 Thieves, which I finished up in a couple weeks after. I also wrote the first huge chunk of The Journey of Clement Fancywater, which is why I am returning to NaNo with the second half of this project. I just draw a giant line on the page that says, “CAMP NANOWRIMO 2018 STARTS HERE,” and start clacking away.
I find that NaNo and Camp NaNo are great motivational tools. I like to win stuff, and the tracking is very motivating for me. Also, write-ins are awesome. (A write-in is simply writers sitting in a room together doing nothing but writing (and maybe drinking coffee or beer)). But the key is that—even in a super-crazy modern life—there is still space (however broken up and short and already occupied by something less important) to squeeze in the things that are important to you. If I have a goal, it’s easier for me to make time for my top priorities.
I have written a book and a half, and a little more, on my NaNo journey so far. I have had to buy a voice-to-text for my computer because my hands were so sore one year I had to sit with them on literal ice. I have also discovered that I can write upwards of 4,000 words on a productive day! And I have entrenched my belief that writer’s block does not exist. There is much to be gained.
Now for a NaNo for exercise and meditation. National Exercise and Meditation Month.
And wish me a clear mind and strong hands.