Writers are supposed to be self-disciplined and motivated to write, right?
Not always so, and certainly not always easy with writers’ block, a limit of time or place, and life getting in the way.
That’s why Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July is a good option to offer that discipline and motivation with a bit of competition. The writing challenge offers writers working on novels, short story collections and other writing projects a numbers goal and a deadline. Writers pick how many words they want to write for the month and have 30 or 31 days to finish the count, depending on the month.
Writers can choose to be put in camps with other writers who have similar projects or goals, and can measure their progress in a group setting. I set my goal at 20,000 words, and because I like to do what I set out to do and hate last-minute writing, I reached 17,400 words by July 20. And then I thought, “oh well, whatever,” and skated through the rest of the month, writing less frequently with fewer words during each writing session. I was a little tired, though not less excited about writing.
I worked on a collection of short stories with the same setting of a coffee shop, tentatively called “Coffee Shop Tales,” and I finished one story and wrote eight more during the month. In April, I worked on the same project but spent most of it writing a 15,000-word neither-here, neither-there project that I have to cut or lengthen to be an actual short story or a novella or novel.
Here’s a sampling of my writing days (as pulled from my journal):
- July 6: I wrote 2,060 words in one-and-a-half hours, finishing a short story that was kind of strange.
- July 11: I wrote 1,090 words in 40 minutes and am at 8,230 words for Camp NaNo, so far writing seven out of 11 days. I edited the story and added another 135 words.
- July 13: I wrote 2,280 words in one-and-a-half hours.
- July 20: I worked on finishing a short story and wrote 1,540 words in one hour, feeling good that I wrote and could solve the problem of the story’s direction. Later in the day, I wrote 1,540 words in an hour, finishing a short story in that time (and accomplished writing 3,140 words in one day, my record so far). It was kind of fun, and the voice was a little different.
- July 28: I wrote a short story and wrote 2,830 words just to get the Camp finished. I reached 20,700 words exactly!
I love Camp NaNo, because you get to choose your goal and get some motivation and discipline as you work toward it, all within a month.