Camp NaNoWriMo

9 11 2009

It’s November, and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month. I’m a huge fan of NaNo. Without it, I wouldn’t have finished my first completed manuscript. Without it, I wouldn’t have met a group of people two years ago who became my local writing group that still meets on a weekly basis all year long. Without it, I wouldn’t have found some of the people who’ve become my best friends. Without it, I wouldn’t have the kick-in-the-pants motivation to start writing again after the hiatus I’ve taken for the last several months.  Without it, I wouldn’t have had an excuse to go on a weekend writing retreat in the mountains with eight other people from the writing group mentioned above.

retreat sign

We truly had a Camp NaNoWriMo this year. We ordered and wore these shirts for the event. You can get your own here.

camp nano pic

I just got back from the retreat yesterday, and I’m still pumped up.  We planned the retreat for the first full weekend in November so it could be a Nano fest, and while there was plenty of laughing, talking, game playing, margarita and pina colada drinking (I took along my trusty Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker)…there was also plenty of writing. I went into the retreat way behind on my word count and still fairly unmotivated. On November 6, I barely had 3k, but I knocked out a little over 10k at the retreat alone!  Today (as of 12:30pm), my word count stands at 13,620 and I haven’t done my daily words yet.

I did almost all my writing at the retreat outside. The house we rented had a huge front porch, and the weather was perfect—breezy and cool without being cold. I had the company of birds, lady bugs, and a ridiculously large number of walking sticks (the insects).

retreat house

I’d never done much writing outside before, so I learned something new about myself—I’m incredibly productive when I write outside. In fact, I’m sitting on my own front porch as I write this. I don’t have the company of any walking sticks, but I am being helped by an incredibly irritated cat who doesn’t understand why I’m holding this electronic device in my lap instead of him.

Nano pushes you to do adventurous things, things you didn’t think you could do, things you never thought you would do. And you do it for yourself. You don’t get an official prize. You may end up with 50k of unusable crap at the end of the month, but if you get into the spirit of it, you discover things about yourself and your writing that you carry with you into less hectic times.  AND, if you’re fortunate enough to have friends who join you in the writing frenzy then you get to make some amazing memories and collect some awesome blackmail worthy photos.

To the outside observer, NaNo seems silly, a colossal waste of time. “So you’re writing all these words really fast and then will probably edit most of them out?” they ask. “Yes,” I reply enthusiastically. When I try to explain it to my non-writing friends and acquaintances they get this look on their faces—a sort of I-don’t-understand-you-I’ll-never-understand-you-have-you-spent-time-in-the-looney-bin type of expression. And that’s okay, because I know what NaNo means to me, and nobody else except my fellow NaNo’ers have to understand.

This year, NaNo has given me a priceless gift:  I’ve fallen in love with my story again, with writing again.

I’ve been messing around with this particular story idea for well over a year—starting, scrapping everything I wrote, starting again, scrapping all that, re-outlining the whole thing.  It’s given me fits.  I had a new, very detailed outline going into November, and I restarted the story AGAIN.  And now I’m rolling with it.  Ask me tomorrow and my attitude may be completely different—isn’t the roller coaster emotions part of what NaNo is all about?—but right now, I feel good. And that makes it all worth it.

Do you NaNo? Do you have any stories about your experiences? Love it? Hate it? Why? Comment and tell me.

Remember that we’re giving away a copy of Hanna’s debut novel Widow’s Peak and a copy of Delilah Marvelle’s Lord of Pleasure at the end of the month. Comment on this post or any of our other November posts throughout the month to be entered to win!

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One response

12 11 2009
Gail Roarke

I’ve been writing for many years, until recently only for my own entertainment or the entertainment of my fellow collaborative fiction writers. Since about April of this year I’ve been writing and submitting with Intent To Publish in the First Degree. I’ve sold three stories so far–all short stories.

Over the years I’m sure I’ve written many a novel’s worth of words, but never an actual novel. This year I took the plunge, though. It was frightening at first, but it’s also been illuminating. I’m 32,000 words into it as of this moment, and I will complete it. It’s a throwaway novel–but I’ll have a novel under my belt. And the next one, or the next one after that, will be worth sending out to editors.

I’m glad I’m doing this, however much fear and trepidation I felt at the start.

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