Last fall, I participated in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of writers around the world take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days. I wrote a few posts about the beginning, the middle and the end of the experience that was as exhilarating as it was exhausting.
When the end of November came, I had achieved the goal of writing 50,000 words, and more importantly, had gotten in the habit of writing every single day. I kept that practice up, and by the end of December, I finished what I was calling ‘Draft Zero’ of my second novel, You & Me & Us.
While NaNoWriMo was an amazing experience and I was happy and proud to have done it, I wasn’t sure that I would ever do it again.
Fast forward six months to last week when a fellow member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association posted in our Facebook group to see if anyone else was participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, a more relaxed version of the November challenge. No one called me out specifically, but once the idea was planted in my head, I couldn’t say no. Not that anyone asked.
I’m only a few days into the challenge, but I can already tell there are a few differences between NaNoWriMo in November, and this ‘lite’ version in July.
In November, the end goal is the same for everyone—write 50,000 brand new words. Reaching that elusive number is the only way to “win.”
The July version seems much more relaxed and the rules aren’t as strict, and you actually get to decide and declare your own goal. Writers can stick to tracking their word counts, or choose to track hours, lines or pages instead. Plus, it’s totally acceptable to be working on a re-write, which is what I’ll be doing.
My actual goal is to finish the second draft of You & Me & Us, but since I’m not sure how many words or pages that will end up being, I decided to stick with the traditional 50,000 word count. I was already about 30,000 words in to the re-write, so I made my goal 80,000 words. The last draft of my novel ended up coming in around 90k words, so that should be close.
My original plan was to finish this draft by the end of the summer, but getting the interest of a few agents at a conference I attended a few weeks ago has motivated me to try and finish ahead of schedule. Luckily the accountability of entering my word count every day has already helped keep my energy and my word counts up.
The other difference in this summer version has to do with the chart to the right of my personal project statistics.
While there is definitely a community aspect to NaNoWriMo in November, the “camp” in July seems to be much more about the camaraderie and support of other writers. Every “camper” joins a cabin, a virtual writing support group of about 20 other writers.
I joined a cabin with members of my WFWA organization, and so far we’re all doing a great job of keeping each other motivated. Our stats are compiled as a cabin, and there’s a message board for us to report our progress, discuss challenges and celebrate successes along the way. Our current discussion is about plotting vs pantsing, and it looks like I’m outnumbered as one of the few plotters in the group!
The last difference might seem like a small one, but I promise you—it’s not.
November, as you may recall from the childhood rhyme, “Thirty days has September, April, June and November…” has thirty days. While one day doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, when your deadline is approaching, those extra twenty-four hours can be huge. So I’m sure I’ll be grateful for that thirty-first day.
If all goes as planned, on or around August first, I will be ready to send my novel to a few beta readers for one last look (I already had seventeen readers in an online group read and critique it a few months ago). Then I’ll hopefully be ready to send it off to the few agents who have already requested the full manuscript, and officially start the querying process with some of the other agents on my list.
But now they’re un-crossed again so I can keep writing—I’ve got a deadline to keep!