NaNoWriMo versus Camp NaNoWriMo

For people who have never heard of NaNoWriMo both the concept and title are slightly WTF?

Firstly, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and Camp NaNoWriMo is an off shoot of that. In basic terms, NaNoWriMo is when a bunch of people decide to write 50 000 words in the space of a month. Voluntarily. It happens every November so you have the build up to Christmas. If you are American you also have Thanksgiving to throw into the mix as well. People can take it pretty seriously and often use it to write a first draft for their novel with some going on to publication down the track. It can be tense with people going from excitement at the beginning to “I can’t do it” at the half way point and then amazement at finishing, even if writing 50 000 words hasn’t been achieved.

There is a lot of support along the way from the NaNoWriMo HQ as well as other Wrimo’s around the world.

woody and buzz

Camp NaNoWriMo on the other hand is much more relaxed. There are two camp dates, one in April and one in July and they both last the month. Once you have signed up you set your own word count goal and then get assigned a cabin. You can be put into a cabin with up to 11 randoms or create a private cabin/be invited to one. You then get a private chat area for you and your bunk mates. It is entirely up to you how much you interact with each other.

It is important to note that you can opt out of being in a cabin if you wish. You’ll still get support from HQ but I think doing so is missing the importance of camp, support from other writers. It’s people who are trying to do the same thing you are, carving out time to complete their manuscript. There are the forums to talk to other people, but your bunk mates are there especially for you and HQ has picked them with that in mind.

Successfully writing 50 000 words in NaNoWriMo is known as winning and you get to print out a certificate at the end. Which is awesome. You also get to print a certificate if you reach your word count at camp. That is also awesome. Both also have graphs that show you your progress, great for times when you feel like you’re getting nowhere.

NaNoWriMo is great for creating discipline, 1667 words a day will get you to your goal and this is pretty much drummed into you. At camp you go as fast or as slow as you like. I think of it as NaNoWriMo is a marathon, you need to pace yourself, while camp is more along the lines of a morning run. Habit forming if kept up and possible to get better at with practice.

So which one is better? Personally I like both for two reasons. NaNoWriMo, in my experience, is great for getting that first draft completed while camp is excellent for revising and editing. So both have their place, but the important part is that you write everyday and form that habit. And that is exactly what I plan to do this July, a final edit of A Balance of Secrets, keeping that writing habit strong. Bring on the toasted marshmallows and camp fire!

camp fire

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Why write?

There are a lot of reasons why people write. Money, a need to express what they can’t say or a burning desire to report on what is happening in the world. Whatever the reason, they write. I actually think that the reason is personal to every writer, be they a well-known author like J.K. Rowling, a blogger taking the world by storm or someone who writes in their journal every night for the simple pleasure of recounting their thoughts without fear of judgement. The ways and whys people write are numerous.

So what makes someone want to take their writing to the next step and get it published? In all honesty I can’t tell you, but what I can do is tell you what made me want to do that.

galaxy

Publishing makes you vulnerable. You’re letting others see how your mind works.

I read to escape my current reality. Let me be clear that my reality isn’t that bad, in fact it is pretty darn good, but I’m still not Harry Potter or Claire Fraser (two people I’d love to be for a bit). Reading stories allows me to experience things I would otherwise never get to. For a period of time I get to fight bad guys, fall in love again or even pretend to be a knight in medieval times. It broadens my understanding of the world and my place in it and that’s something I would really like to do for others.

There is also the part where people read to escape a reality that isn’t so crash hot. Believe me, I have done that as well. There is nothing like reading a great book that a) takes you away from your current situation and b) gives you a new perspective on life. A truly great book is life changing, making you think in a way you ordinarily wouldn’t.

For me that happened most recently with a book I read called Broken by Nicola Haken. The way she wrote about mental illness and love had me riveted and completely reconsidering the way I regard mental health. It’s a m/m romance but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s sappy. That book pulled emotions from me like you wouldn’t believe.

broken

A story of mental illness and finding love

So that’s why I write, to give people an escape and perhaps have them reconsider how they regard things. I’m not so naive as to think I’m having a massive impact on the world, but if I can provide an escape for someone who is stressing over things or is having a bad time of it, then that’s pretty awesome. If they look at the world in a better,  more positive light then that’s even better.

Writing is a way to express what can’t be said and is usually only thought. However once it’s written it’s there for all to see and publishing makes this extremely real. Everyone can see what goes on in your mind! So hats off to those who take the next step and to those contemplating it. Letting others see your work makes you vulnerable and I applaud you for it.

Why do you want to take the next step?