Last winter I participated in Nanowrimo for the first time. Surprisingly, I won Nanowrimo early. Now, I didn’t finish the project until months later. But I did enjoy having a challenge to hold me accountable. There’s also a mini-version of this challenge called Camp Nanowrimo. So in July, I decided I wanted something else to hold me accountable with my new writing project. Camp Nanowrimo was different from the November challenge in a couple ways, but ultimately with the same goal: get writers to write.
If you are curious to know more about my Camp Nanowrimo experience, continue reading.
How is Camp Nanowrimo different?
As I mentioned, both Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo ultimately are trying to get writers in the habit of writing everyday. However, there are noticeable differences between the two.
Camp Nanowrimo has far less participants than Nanowrimo. The reason I decided to do Nanowrimo was because of the influx of videos I saw on Youtube mentioning. I kept thinking, “what the heck is a Nanowrimo?” On the other hand, I haven’t seen nearly as many people discussing Camp Nanowrimo. Even the forums on the Nanowrimo website are less active.
Don’t be too worried! Camp Nanowrimo still has its own community of its own. The amount of participants doesn’t directly impact how much you write. But it can make the experience funner when more people are involved?
Cabins & Cabin Mates
Going along with the Camp theme, Camp Nanowrimo has cabins and assigns you cabin mates. Before beginning, I filled in descriptors for my WIP (work-in-progress) including genre and desired word count goal. Then, you can identify if you want your cabin mates to be writing the same genre for example, among other factors.
Cabin mates all get together and the idea is to encourage one another, offer advice or simply discuss how the process is going. Unfortunately, the cabin I assigned to wasn’t very engaging or active. Most members didn’t seem to be participating in Camp Nanowrimo at all. Others just didn’t write in. No conversations really sparked more than a message or two. So all-in-all, I ended up just going to the Camp Nanowrimo website to update my word count and that’s all.
Word Count Goal
For Nanowrimo, the goal is the same for everyone: 50,000 words. But for Camp Nanowrimo, you set your own goal. Also, you can set your goal in terms of word count, hours you’d like to spend on it or pages you’d like to complete. This was a major draw for me because I didn’t know if I’d commit to reaching 50,000 words again and wanted my own flexibility. Thus, I set my goal for 30,000 words. However, in the end I bumped it up to 50,000 and again, won! Although I do admit I had some words down for my WIP before the official start of Camp Nanowrimo.
I’ve noticed from the interactions that did take place in my cabin that the project everyone worked on varied greatly. For Nanowrimo, most people were working on a book, a novel. For Camp Nanowrimo, many participants in my cabin were writing dissertations, essays, or even editing their Nanowrimo projects. This can be a plus for those needing inspiration to continue a project that isn’t a novel.
Without divulging too much of the premise or plot, I was toying around with a novel idea for a bit this summer. When I discovered Camp Nanowrimo was a thing, I knew I’d be participating to try and ensure I don’t take as long to complete this project as I did my Nanowrimo project. My WIP is a non-fiction adult contemporary novel. It explores different themes and topics such as drug addiction, depression, celebrity and fame.
As of writing this post, the first draft isn’t finished. I get more into my outlining process below, but I never plan out my stories chapter-by-chapter. Thus I have no idea how many words the finished project will have. However, I’d say I’m about two-thirds of the way done.
My Outlining Process
I made a video about how I outlined my Nanowrimo project. This time, I did things a little differently. I definitely didn’t “pants” this novel, which means you go in without planning. But I did leave more things open-ended. There were certain scene ideas, plot points and narratives I wanted to include. And I ALWAYS plan out my main characters before starting. However, I wanted to see how I found this method.
Honestly, both methods worked well and I will continue to explore each to decide what my planning/writing style is. I will say though that the Camp Nanowrimo has surprised me with how many things filled themselves in and connected without me having to plan it. It showed me that extensive planning isn’t always necessary. Yet I did enjoy having rough ideas of where to start, go or end because then it allowed me to explore my possibilities in a more controlled way.
Which do I prefer?
Without a doubt Nanowrimo in November was a lot more exciting and engaging. That being said, I am enjoying my Camp Nanowrimo project more than my November one. However, that may be do to the fact that simultaneously as I work on my new WIP, I am editing my November one. Let me just say, when you hear you’re going to think you first draft sucks, it’s true.
(November) Nanowrimo project: I’m still working on edits. Not sure what my perfect editing process will be like because this is my first time doing this. However, it’s been a challenge so far and I definitely need to get more organized. I wrote down what I knew off-the-bat should be edited, changed or added. So I added a couple chapters, began a read through and am keeping notes. Right now it’s clear the first third of my story needs a lot of work and rewrites.
Camp Nanowrimo project: Still continuing on with writing. Making a habit to write everyday is still a habit I’m working on. Hopefully by the end of the summer the first draft of this story will be complete.