The Happy Camper’s Guide to Camp NaNoWriMo

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April is right around the corner and most writers know what that means: it’s time once again for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Described as a virtual writing retreat, Camp is considered a toned-down version of November’s National Novel Writing Month, where writers from all around the world challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days. The point of this torture (did I say that?!) is not to end up with a query-ready manuscript. It’s a means to get the words down with the intention of going back to fix them later. Because having a completed first draft is half the battle when it comes to dreams of publication.

April’s challenge is a wee more laid back than November’s. Writers can choose to stick with that hefty 50,000-word goal or aim for a different target altogether—one they feel might be easier to obtain. Does announcing a word count to fellow campers sound too intimidating? Try hours, lines, or even pages—it’s completely up to you! The only thing that matters is that you’re writing.

Another thing that’s different about Camp is that each participant is placed in a  virtual cabin. There are three ways you can end up with cabin mates: you can be sorted randomly (which is a good way to meet new friends and cheerleaders!), sorted according to age, genre, or word count goal (do I see new critique partners in your future?), or you can create or be invited into a private cabin where you can share this writerly experience with up to twenty of your writerly friends! Cabin assignments are sorted before the event begins and continue on a rolling basis throughout the month. Used to writing alone? Involving others in your journey helps hold you accountable, because no one has mastered the art of procrastination like a writer (come on, you know it’s true)!

So, how do you join in on all the fun? Just head over to Camp NaNoWriMo and open an account! It’s simple. It’s free. And it’s one more opportunity to connect with the ever-growing, and always encouraging, writing community.

And if you’re in the market for a few survival tips, this here is a post I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple years back that might be of some help.

Best of luck, happy writing, and may all of your writerly dreams comes true!

Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!

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April is right around the corner and you know what that means: it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Well if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you’ll find that Camp NaNoWriMo is somewhat similar, only a little more laid back. At camp, YOU get to set your own writing goal! Whether you want to write a novel, edit a first draft, tackle a script or maybe some short stories, Camp NaNoWriMo will be there to encourage and support you along the way.

How does it work?

During the month of April (and then again in July), you will challenge yourself to write every single day. That’s the first step to establishing a habit that will last throughout the entire year (and with any luck result in a completed manuscript).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers several online writing groups, which they cleverly call cabins (to give you that whole camping vibe). You’ll meet other “campers” by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or writing goals.

Already have a group of writers you’d like to bunk with?  You can create a private cabin for you and your friends to share! How cool is that?

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website:

To join a public cabin, you must first make sure you’ve:

  1. Created a writing project for the current session of Camp
  2. Filled out your profile.
  3. Set your preferences on the Cabin Settings page:

If you want to be sorted into a cabin randomly, select the “Surprise me with random cabin mates!” option and click “Submit.”

If you’d prefer being in a cabin with writers that share similar interests, select “I’m looking for campers that match specific criteria.” Then, you’ll be able request cabin mates within your age group, writing in your genre, and/or with similar word-count goals in mind. Once you’ve selected all the preferences you’d like, click “Submit.”

Cabin assignments will begin shortly before the start of the event and will continue throughout the month on a rolling basis.

Joining a private cabin is a little different:

  1. If you’re acting as the cabin administrator, go to the Cabin Settings page and select “I want to create a private cabin.”
  2. Once in your cabin, you can invite your friends by typing their usernames into the invitation field. You can invite up to 11 Campers. A Camper must have created a profile, a novel, and deselected “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” to be eligible.
  3.  First, make sure you have defined a project for the upcoming event.
  4. On your Cabin Settings page, make sure you have: 
    • Selected “I don’t want to be included in a cabin” so you are not sorted into a random cabin. 
    • Deselected the “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” option.
  • When you’re invited to a private cabin, the invitation will pop up the next time you log in to the website or refresh the Camp NaNoWriMo page. “Join Now” will take you to your new cabin home and “No Thanks” will delete the invitation.

You’ll find all sorts of inspiration and conversation on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and there’s even a camp store where they sell a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts and hoodies to pencils and books.

Not enough? Visit Camp NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and start networking!

One of the great things about the NaNoWriMo community is that you’re never alone. Whether you’ve been writing for years or just getting started, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other authors and forge friendships with people who share the same interests as you.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your bug spray and head on over to camp!