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Apr 07

Susan Shiney

5 Ways Camp Nanowrimo Helps Me Revise My Novel

I have been participating in Nanowrimos and Camp Nanowrimos since 2012 so I always forget that some people haven't heard of it before. I usually hear people respond with interest about going on a writing retreat in the woods in a cabin somewhere and I do want to do that one day as well. However, Camp Nanowrimo is a virtual writing accountability event with writers from all over the world participating. The official Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and this one takes place in November where writers set goals to write 50,000 words in a month. Camp Nanowrimo differs in that it is in April and July and has more open goals set by the participants.

But I don't want to give away everything about Camp Nanowrimo here, keep reading to learn about five ways Camp Nanowrimo helps me revise my novel:

1.You can count time instead of words. The goals are more open during a Camp Nanowrimo event.

This forces me to think about my novel each day on a micro and macro level. I am the kind of writer that trudges ahead, focusing on getting the words on the page is easy for me. I struggle with being thoughtful about the prose and taking a step back and seeing how all of the elements work together. During Camp Nanowrimo I take the time to make the more advanced progress I need beyond getting that first draft out. Although, I wrote my first draft during Nanowrimo and I can't recommend that enough. In the past they have had several different kinds of drop-down menus to set up your goal, this year they revamped the website at merging the Camp Nanowrimo and Nanowrimo websites. You can only choose word counts this year, but they did have a clear graph that said you can count each minute of writing as a word, my goal is 60 minutes a day for a total of 1800 minutes by the end of the month. I am looking through the notes that my critique partners gave me, making new checklists, pulling out all of my old notebooks, and have a pile of craft books next to my desk. All of these tools are there to help me dig into my draft and revise and making the hard decisions that require you to slow down. The opposite of the fun fury of getting out a first draft without letting your inner editor out.

2.You can set your own realistic goal for the amount of words or times to complete by the end of the month.

I tend to burn myself out during Nanowrimo months and for camps in April and July there is no excuse because I set the time limits. I want to keep up a daily habit so I am doing one hour per day. It has been a week now and I have made good progress and it feels like play and not work. In November it is understood that everyone tries for 50,000 words and you cannot alter the goal. There are writers called rebels that choose to use the momentum of this month to focus on revisions as well, but it is not as motivating since you can't change the goal as easily. I was a rebel last November and did not get as much done as I am this month. I have found it easier this month to find other writers that are in revision mode as well.

3. I am motivated to make progress on my novel with the status tracker. It requires me to make a monthly goal. You input your time daily and you get badges for keeping up with the daily check-ins .

I think it depends on what motivates you, but I love this feature. I found a spreadsheet once that had a similar set-up but it wasn't quite the same. I know that if I fall behind I will give up so I make sure to push myself to get that butt in the chair time each day. You get a virtual badge on your profile for the first day, second day, third day, seventh day, fourteenth day, and twenty-first day of writing in a row. There are also personal achievement badges you can choose like a writer wellness badge that you award yourself for eating healthy and getting enough sleep.

4. There are cabins or groups of other people to check in with and keep each other motivated.

We ask each other questions about the process and share book and writing recommendations. There is also a wider forum with topics that I have yet to take advantage of. I love the momentum of taking part in something with other people. Most of us leave comments daily and each group has a maximum of 20 people. This adds another layer of accountability because we are cheering each other on and our badges are on display as updates for the whole group to see. I ventured out and offered to start my own cabin for writers interested in Magical Realism and Surrealism this year. There was so much interest we needed to open two cabin groups. I have also already found two betareaders from my genre who are willing to give me feedback on my novel.

5. It happens every April and July for Camp Nanowrimo and November for the bigger Nanowrimo event. It is possible to plan your yearly writing schedule around these events.

I want to set a deadline for myself to have betareaders read the next draft and get their feedback in time for the next Camp Nanowrimo in July where I will intensely look at their comments and make changes and do another round of revisions. I would love to have my next book outline prepared for November 2020 so I can start the vomit 50,000 word first draft then. As writers it is so easy to let time fall through our fingers and having these events through the year leaves an opportunity to be more intentional with our planning.

Finally, I am grateful to be living in a time where there are so many online accountability communities for creatives to connect and support each other. It brings even more meaning to the idea of focusing on the journey and not the destination. It is about the spirit of creating and who knows where our work will lead, but we are there to support each other in enjoying the process.

Have you ever done Camp Nanowrimo? What did you think of the experience?

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