Last week I shared with you about my plans to write a novella next month and participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. This week I wanted to share with you more about all things NaNo and kick off a month-long series about this special event!

What is this crazy thing anyway?

I’m so glad you asked!

Back in 1999, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) began. The idea is for writers all over the world to set aside all the excuses and get a novel written … in ONE MONTH!

November is NaNoWriMo, and the goal for every writer is 50,000 words. While that may not be enough words to complete a full novel in some genres, that’s a pretty hefty start!

Since its start nearly twenty years ago, this month-long focus on writing has grown and expanded.

Two Camp NaNoWriMos have joined the family—one in April and one in July. They also have a Young Writers Program to support kids in their November novel-writing efforts. And, January and February have become the “Now What?” months to revise and, hopefully, publish those NaNo novels!

How, exactly does this work?

Well, it’s pretty simple. You just sign up on the website and declare your intentions!

For NaNoWriMo, your goal is at least 50,000 words. Once you hit that, you’ve “won” and get mega bragging rights. Plus, you know … the first draft of a NOVEL!

The Camps are a little different. You set your own goal and type of project.

Novel? Memoir? Nonfiction? Short stories? Novella?

Revisions? First Drafts?

50,000 words? 5,000? 100,000?

20 pages? 50 pages? 500?

You name it! Set your goal at the start of the month and “win” once you’ve met that goal!

What’s so great about NaNoWriMo?

Ask this question of five writers, and you’re likely to get five different answers.

Here’s mine:

NaNoWriMo expands our writing community, provides support and encouragement in the writing journey and encourages writers to set goals—and meet them.

Writing Community

NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo encourage writers to share their projects and goals and discuss challenges and concerns unique to writers.

This global effort bonds writers even if they’ve never met and offers opportunities to cheer one another on.

Camp NaNo cabins allow writers to join with a small group of other writers for one-on-one encouragement and cheering during the event. Participants can ask to be sorted into groups with similar writers or start cabins with friends.

I should probably add that these cabins are online only. We’re not actually meeting up in the Appalachians to rough it for the month … much to my disappointment! (I like to camp, in case you couldn’t tell!)

Support and Encouragement

The NaNo team sends weekly emails with tips and suggestions as well as encouragement to keep on going. They also host forums for discussion, live write-ins and Twitter chats (just to name a few opportunities that come to mind).

Goals—Set and Met

I’m a HUGE fan of goal-setting. I also require a deadline in order to complete anything. So, of course I love NaNo for its push to help writers get in the goal mindset.

Even if a writer doesn’t reach their goals, NaNo is immensely beneficial. It makes writers think through their writing projects and goals. It opens their eyes to the amazing community of writers out there. And it gives them the tools needed to just keep going!

This process does work! In fact, there’s a whole list on the NaNo site of published books that got their start during one of the NaNos. One of my favorites on the list is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

My NaNo Experience

I’ve known about NaNo since its early days. I can’t remember an exact date or how I even heard about it, but it’s been on my mind to participate ever since I heard about it. November tends to be a difficult month for me, though, between my son’s birthday and Thanksgiving.

This past April, I had already planned to finish my literary fiction novel, so I decided to hop in to Camp! I found out a group of fellow Writer Moms had started a cabin, so I joined in with them for added accountability.

I had written just over 30,000 words prior to April 1, so my Camp goal was to finish my first draft and hit 95,000 words. I met my goal and won, writing just over 65,000 words in April!

The push of the deadline and public commitment to my goals helped me stick with it and make it happen.

When a group of my closest writer friends decided to participate in July’s Camp NaNo and start a cabin together, I knew I had to join in again!

My July Camp NaNoWriMo Plans

As I already reminded you earlier, I plan to write a novella in July. My goal is 40,000 words. This is a different format and length for me, so I decided to go with a different writing medium as well. I plan to write these words with good old pen and paper!

I’m super excited to share the triumphs and mis-steps of this project with my cabin mates, and they’ve agreed to share their Camp experiences with YOU! That’s right … they’ll each take a week here on my blog to fill you in on their projects and how the Camp experience is going for them! I’m sure we’ll share some late-night chats around the fire, early morning writing hikes and definitely s’mores! Because what’s camping without those?!?!

Since you’ll be sharing this experience with us, let me introduce you to these three special ladies!

Meet my cabin mates!

Kelsey Atkins is the author of Finding the Light, the first YA fantasy novel in a three-part series. Kelsey plans to revise her second novel in the series, Chasing the Light. This will be her first NaNo experience, and she’ll be my first guest blogger for the month. Be sure to read her post next week!

Devon Harry has set herself a HUGE goal of 100,000 words on a fantasy novel and has already made an amazing start on it. This is not her first novel either! She’s written several and is currently querying one of them! Devon will have a super special post for you guys on July 19.

Tauri Cox will be continuing her work on what will be a trilogy, set in New Orleans and steeped in Voodoo. Like feisty, snarky female protagonists? You’ll love Jessa! Tauri currently has another novel out on submission to publishers! She’ll be rounding out our month with her post on July 26.

After these three amazing ladies, you may not want me back! My plan, though, is to give you a recap of the month on August 2. So, lace up your hiking boots, sling your pack on your back and let’s go camping!


Readers, what do you think of all this NaNo stuff? Have you ever heard of it before? Writers, who’s participating? What are you working on? Have you joined in the past? What tips would you give?

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Last week I shared with you about my plans to write a novella next month and participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. What is Camp NaNo anyway?