If you didn’t already know, the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo begins this Friday. Camp NaNoWriMo is about the same as regular NaNoWriMo, just in the summer, and there are two sessions (The other one being in August). The goal is to write a complete 50,000+ word manuscript in 30 days or less.
My second manuscript is a product of National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve attempted every session since. I’m going to give some advice to those new to or curious about the process.
NaNoWriMo is a prompt. Its main purpose is to prompt those who otherwise wouldn’t write into doing so, but if you’re already a writer (or even if you aren’t) NaNoWriMo can still come in handy. It’s a lot of fun and adds a little bit more to the writing experience.
Don’t take it too seriously. It’s not about winning or losing, and really there’s no way to lose. Say you pass the 50k word mark, but it took you two months to get there. Who cares? You wrote a book, didn’t you? How is that anything but winning?
Don’t be afraid to fail the deadlines or break the rules. For Camp last year I had an idea I was kicking around, and I decided to wait about a month and a half for Camp to start to begin work on it. It turned out the project didn’t go where I thought it would, and I ended up scrapping it and now I plan to start over. I love my idea, but because I waited so long to start I didn’t realize until it was too late that it wouldn’t go as planned, and because of the word count I tried to force it out anyway. I ended up with a huge mess. Needless to say, I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo that time. I would have been far better off starting the project as soon as I felt ready and taking the time it needed me to take. I still would’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but I might have had something to show for it.
A friend of mine started a project last November and got a few thousand words in, and while he continues his project, he definitely didn’t meet the deadline. I told him about Camp and he expressed concern that it’s against the rules to continue an old project. I told him it would be better to participate anyway, despite being disqualified from the beginning. Again, it’s better to be disqualified and have a finished book than to not attempt it and have nothing.
Remember to have fun. If it stops being fun, if it feels like your project isn’t going the right way because you’re caught up in rules and deadlines, just take a step back and decide whether continuing with NaNoWriMo is the right way to go. After my Camp fiasco last year, I was able to identify when the same thing was happening to a different project in November. I didn’t hesitate to give up on NaNoWriMo, and come January I had a novella I was a lot happier with than I would have been if I had forced it out a few weeks prior.
With that all said, I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this year. You can follow my progress via my page here, and I’ll also try to update my blog with how it’s going. What about you? Are you participating this year? Do you have any advice for NaNo newcomers and veterans? Care to share your Camp profile page? Leave a comment.