We’re Well In To Camp

This year’s badge from Nanowrimo.com

It is April 11, which means I am arriving at Camp Nanowrimo eleven days late. This is a virtual thing, so no camp counselor is looking down over their nose and clipboard at me, tapping their pencil on the page. I knew I was going to miss a few days of camp due to spring break and family vacation, but I don’t think I realized how much I was going to miss; I just didn’t do the math ahead of time. Ah well, there’s always July.

If you have been following The Starving Artist for long, you know that Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month—is a thing. In November every year, like a bazillion writers around the world sign up online, join local chapters, and write 50,000 words in a month (which is a short novel). I have talked less about Camp Nanowrimo than Nanowrimo, at least for the past several years. There are two summer camps annually, that take place in April and July, and some things have changed about Camp over time. When I “won” Camp in 2014, I wrote 50,000 words, just like one would for Nanowrimo (which I finally “won” in 2022). But now, the majority of Nano campers make their own goals and man are they flexible.

I am a rule follower, so I stick to the options that the Nano site offers, but really writers come up with some crazy goals and they track them by conversion and that’s a totally acceptable thing (or you’re a rebel, if that makes you feel more excited). Like if you wanted to draw thirty pages for a graphic novel, you could call each page 1,000 words and set a goal of 30,000 and then track it that way. Officially, you can choose (this year) between writing and editing, and under writing you can choose between prepping and drafting. Your options are novel, short story(s), memoir, script, nonfiction, poetry, or other. If you jump in whenever (which means you can actually use Nanowrimo all year long), you can choose a beginning and end date (which I actually did in February and March for a personal goal of novel-finishing). If you are signing up for Camp, the beginning and end is already set for you, but unlike in November, your goal is for you to set. The bummer is that at least for now, the only goal category you can “choose” is word count. (I am told they used to offer page count, and I could think of a few more options that would be awesome.) This is where people get creative.

my Canva mockup for the cover

As for me and my book, I am working to edit a novel I finished drafting in the fall. It is about 110,000 words in its first draft, so I set the goal to edit the whole darn thing and kept it at actual word count (110,000). For editing, a lot of people set page goals and use some sort of conversion. The problem? It is day eleven and I am still a week from finishing the first draft of my current novel in drafting. Also, I was planning to take a novel revision class online before I started this revision. Whoops. If only camp had been in May this year or that I had looked ahead and understood my position a little better (considering spring break and our family vacation). I believe I shall write like the wind and take that class like the wind and then jump in at half-way (April 16, here I come!), keeping my crazy goal. No matter what, I need to get an enormous amount of work done in the next four months, full stop, and Nano is a tool that I use to keep me accountable and spur me on. I appreciate the varied goals of the Camps so that I can have time to edit, plan, etc. We’ll see where I am when July Camp rolls around. As for November, I plan to be standing there with my Preptober plans in hand at midnight on Halloween, like usual.


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