Yes, it is nearly that time of year for me again. 50,000 words written in 30 days. 36 days and counting.
But why do I participate in Nanowrimo?
I know not everyone believes in the Nano style of writing without correcting or editing for 30 days solid. (I write that way the majority of the time anyway so, it wasn’t a new concept to me.) I’ve heard all kinds of reasons and many more excuses from writer friends about why Nano isn’t for them. Such as a “real” writer doesn’t need a competition to write. Or the infamous “Nano encourages bad writing” which always makes me laugh. But they are not completely wrong.
Nano does encourage bad writing, but only in the sense that everyone’s first draft is a stinking pile of potential that still needs rewrites and editing. Nano encourages the writer to finish the story, not get bogged down in polishing every single word as it comes out along the way. As for the “real” writer… I don’t need challenges or contests to write. I write most days of the year outside of Nano, and while I know some writers only create during Nano, the ones I know spend the rest of the year revising, editing and rewriting – so still writing all year. I’m a writer because I love to write, not because of the way I choose to write and no less real because I use Nano as one of my writing tools. As writers, we are not competitors on opposite sides but rather colleagues. – There will never be enough books in the world, you know! – But I’ve wandered a bit.
Why Nano for me…
It’s the deadline, and the accountability Nano provides. Can I set deadlines for myself? Of course, I learned in college that some of my best work is produced under the pressure of a deadline, but the accountability is another story. Just knowing that my friends, family and fellow writers are cheering me on makes the difference. I don’t want to let them down. Also, I’m a bit competitive, so watching how my fellow writers are doing throughout the challenge keeps a fire under my butt. I love watching my little graph get higher and higher as I write. It becomes a game and brings fun to my writing particularly on days when the story isn’t flowing well.
Is Nano for you?
Maybe or maybe not, but think of participating this year. It’s free, and you have nothing to lose. Even if you don’t make the 50,000 words, even if you only write 1,000 words all month, that’s still 1,000 more words on your novel than you have right now. And you might just surprise yourself.
So, the April session of Camp Nano has closed, and I find myself reminded about how many different people there are in the world. So many different people that are also writers like myself. Camp Nano is a unique experience from November Nano, for those that have never played, in that you can be assigned to a cabin (think chat room/forum) of other writers for the duration of the competition. You can also make a cabin of your own friends, if you wish, but you don’t have access to everyone that is participating, well, not immediate access anyway. So, if I choose a random cabin assignment, and my friends from November Nano are assigned to somewhere else, the only way I can see their progress is to search their profiles, and if I care to chat with them through the site, it is only through the onsite email. This is not ideal for me, because I love meeting new people and getting to talk to other writers about their process. However, I also enjoy the support I have found with my current friends that are regular Nano-ers, so during Camp Nano I can’t have my cake and eat it too.
What I do like is that I can set my own word count goal. There are two sessions of Camp Nano in the summer, one in April and one in July. I try to do both (see previous post about loving deadlines). This keeps me going strong through the months when life can take over my otherwise scheduled writing time. I have school aged kids, the weather is only really nice for about four months in Montana, family tends to vacation and travel because of aforementioned reasons, etc. So, having two months that are dedicated writing challenges, helps to remind me not to let other things I love to do derail my writing.
April Camp was a success for me again this year but i set my goal low knowing that spring is busy. I barely made it to the total I had set for myself. At last glance, none of the dozen others in my cabin did (validation may yet be possible for some due to time zone differences) and for some reason this session i feel like i have let my cabin down. Could I have spent more time encouraging my fellow writers? Would it have made a difference if I had spent more time in the cabin chat? I’ve been in cabins in the past that nearly all the writers completed the challenge and we chatted a lot. I have had a couple where no one talked at all and those seemed to be the least successful as a group. If you participate in Camp Nano, do you find this to be true for you? I’m thinking that next session in July I might just go cabin-less or a cabin of chosen writer friends, but I hate to lose that chance to meet and chat with new writers around the world. I feel as though Camp Nano allows me to set realistic goals for myself and so I expect it does for others as well, but the ratio of completed to not-completed seems low. Perhaps if i could see more than 12 people participating like we can during November…
Anyway, it’s done, and i am that much further into the new book. Up next, 30k by July 1st (when the next Camp begins) so i can finish the first draft of The Reality Makers in July!