Alright gang, raise your hand if you have an unfinished story lurking somewhere in your home. Be it on paper or somewhere in a sea of digital folders on your computer, those little untold tales have a way of piling up. As I’ve said in my previous post, writing is easy; the only thing easier is not writing.

Suzanne's personal Drawer of Shame
Suzanne’s personal Drawer of Shame

It is so very, very easy to come up with excuses not to write. I speak from over a decade of experience, working three jobs and putting myself through college. Even working from home through the incredible job I have today, I can still come up with a million and one ways not to write.

I have to go work out, I need to go to the store, I’m tired, I’m on deadline, I need to do more marketing, I have no plot outline — I could keep this up until I have a novel’s worth of excuses.

That’s where wonderful events like Camp NaNoWriMo come in.

Camp NaNo is a bit different than NaNoWriMo; I prefer to think of it as NaNo-lite, or NaNoWriMo Training Wheels. Unlike NaNoWriMo’s official novel writing month, Camp NaNo happens twice a year, in April and July. There are no prizes for winning, but the rules at play are also a lot easier to work with. Instead of having to write 50k in a month, you can set the goal to any amount you want!

camp nano welcome shot

Signing up for Camp NaNo is just like traditional NaNoWriMo — simply go to the site, sign in, fill out your novel info, and set a goal. You get adorable camper graphics to keep track of your work. Just like with NaNo, you get a very easy-to-use chart that will tell you how much you need to write each day in order to meet your goal. You simply put in the words you’ve written each day before midnight your time, and they get added to your total. If you like group work, you may also enjoy seeing the charts for your cabin’s totals to see how many words your group has written altogether. Huzzah, teamwork! Best of all, you get to be in charge of who you interact with and whether or not you wish to share you misery with others through the Camp NaNo Cabins network!

‘Cabins!’ you say. ‘How the heck do cabins work in an on-line writing event?’

Cabins are the Camp NaNo way of giving you a group to work with, should you want one. Once you sign up for Camp NaNo, you are given the option to either set up a private cabin, have cabin members picked via book length or a genre of your choice, or just go nuts and see which random lovely writers Camp NaNo will select for you. A private cabin can be kept exactly that — private — or you can invite friends to your cabin. You can even invite a few writing buddies you know personally, and then open your cabin to the public for others to join, giving you a bit of both worlds.

A simple word-count tracking printable for the pen & paper crowd
A simple word-count tracking printable for the pen & paper crowd

‘If there’s no prize, then whats the point of doing Camp NaNoWriMo?’ you ask.

The prize at the end of Camp NaNoWriMo is YOU finishing the damn book! Camp NaNo is more than just a writing event; it’s an incredible training tool that can help you get in the habit of writing each and every day in your own way, without the pressure of a 50,000-word or higher goal by the end of the month. By setting your own goal, however large or small, you can take the first step to making writing a part of your everyday routine, enabling you to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK once and for all.

The second and final Camp NanoWrimo for 2015 begins July 1st, but we recommend joining ASAP to begin planning your writing project before you get to the starting line. Just like any marathon, you should always come prepared, and at Camp NaNo you can work to do so by having a plot outline, schedule, and maybe even a new method of writing (did we mention we love Zen Writer? Because we do. A lot.) to get you started. Whether it’s stocking up on your favorite tea, or simply picking an unfinished project from the pile — get your mugs ready, computers charged, and your pens filled for Camp NaNoWriMo!

camp nano 2015 participant

(We’ll be participating, too! If you don’t want to write alone, tweet your Camp NaNoWriMo screenname to @wordvagabond, and we’ll send you a cabin invite to the Word Vagabond cabin. We’re both excellent cheerleaders, who will maybe write as much as we cheerlead. We hope.)

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