Why I Prefer Camp NaNo over NaNoWriMo

Today I want to talk to the people who are on the fence about participating in Camp NaNoWriMo because of a less-than-positive experience they might have had during November’s NaNoWriMo.

I get it. That was my experience. I really disliked my first NaNo experience, and although I was hooked (that’s a whole other story), I didn’t think Camp NaNo could be much different than regular NaNo. But I’m here to tell you, besides the same basic premise, Camp NaNo is nothing like NaNoWriMo. And that’s a good thing!

Camp NaNo is flexible

I’ve talked about this before, but I love the flexibility Camp NaNo offers. During regular NaNo sessions, you are confined to writing 50,000 words in a month. In general, this is not a bad thing, but 50,000 words is a lot, and not all writers are physically able to write 50,000 words in a month. And I don’t think that should disqualify them from being able to participate in an event like NaNo.

By being able to change your word goal in Camp NaNo, a writer is able to cater to their specific writing abilities. Maybe you are trying to finish a novel and it will only take you 20,000 words to do so. Maybe you are more focussed on the content rather than a reaching a specific word count each day. Maybe you would rather measure your success another way. All of these, and so much more are totally available to the Camp NaNo experience. You set the goal—words, hours, pages—whatever it is! You are in control about the decision of how you want to measure your progress on your writing.

Camp NaNo is for more than just first drafts

Perhaps this is twisting the original purpose of NaNo, but by being able to change the goal of Camp NaNo, customization about what you do during the month goes way up. When I set hourly goals, I feel free to spend that time researching, brainstorming and outlining. Not only does this work count toward my progress, but I move forward in my novel even if I don’t write a word.

For me, editing is much more difficult than actual drafting, but when I have a Camp NaNo event, I am able to set goals for my editing that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to do during November NaNo’s because their pre-set goals. Camp NaNo lets you set aside a month to make real, dedicated progress on a project, whether actual words, brainstorming, research, or editing. Unlike NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNo is available for writers at any point in the writing process.

Camp NaNo is more social

I’m an introvert. I don’t like leaving the house if I can help it, but, paradoxically, I love connecting with people who have similar interests. Camp NaNo sessions give me the best of both worlds with their cabin system. Being assigned to a cabin with writers of all ages, genres and experience from all over the world offers an incredible opportunity to connect with writers that you otherwise would never meet. There’s a lot of jokes around NaNo about saying goodbye to your loved ones as you lock yourself in your room to write a novel. And while that’s generally my regular existence anyways, I didn’t actually enjoy how lonely NaNoWriMo was.

On the other hand, Camp NaNo creates community. There’s a certain level of shared experience and camaraderie that comes along with writing novels together which creates a really special experience while writing a novel. Some of my closest writer friends come from the cabin friends I’ve made during Camp sessions. Camp NaNo shows that writing a novel doesn’t have to be a solitary affair, and I love the community that comes with that.

Camp NaNo has better timing

Obviously this will depend on the person, but I find November is the busiest month of my year. As a student, its called “Miracle Month” because most major assignments, and mid-terms fall during November. I don’t exactly feel giddy with excitement about adding “write a novel” to the list of things I have to do during the month. But more than that, it’s winter. The days are short, and it’s cold. Early mornings are prime writing time for me, but when I’m up before the sun it can be quite discouraging to try to get up and write when my bed is so warm and comfy.

Camp NaNo sessions on the other hand, are completely different. Falling in April and July, my school semester is almost done by April and most major assignments are wrapped up. Spring is in full swing and writing to the sounds of birds and daylight is quite relaxing. July is even more relaxing. Smack in the middle of summer, when the days are long, and the sun is warm, and the pace of life has slowed down just a bit compared to the school year. In winter, it’s depressing to wake up before the sun. In summer, you are rewarded for waking up with the sun. For me, an ideal day starts with writing outside when its still a bit brisk, the sun is peeking over the horizon, the grass is still dewy, you’ve got a cup of your favourite form of caffiene, and a story you are excited to write about. True bliss.

With the flexibility in projects, the added social aspect, and the warmth of the seasons, Camp NaNo quickly and easily took the favourite spot on my “when to write a novel” list.

So if you’re on the fence about participating in Camp NaNo because of an experience you’ve had in November, I encourage you to give it a go to see how truly different the experience of writing a novel in a month can be just based on the month you choose to participate!

Are you participating in Camp NaNo next month? What’s your favourite aspect of Camp NaNo? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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