This might seem a bit seasonally inappropriate. It’s June, not November. But you have never been more wrong. It is utterly inappropriate, as yesterday marked the beginning of the June session of ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’.
Camp NaNo is a pared-down version of National Novel Writing Month. Instead of forums it’s got ‘cabins’, so you don’t tend to talk to more than about five other people. In some ways, it’s quite cosy, although a lot of people tend to hang out on the full NaNo forums as well. The aim of the thing is the same: write 50,000 words in a month, or get eaten by plot bunnies trying.
The rules of NaNoWriMo are pretty simply: you write a novel, starting on the first day of the month, and you see if you can write 50k in that month. It’s first draft stuff. Zero draft, some writers call it, on account of the fact a lot of it is brain-splat rather than actual coherent work.
I don’t think it has to be like that, though.
NaNoWriMo is a pretty good way of working for me because I’m the sort of person who needs motivation. I can motivate myself by telling myself I have to get 2k done every day for a week, but I need a little box to put it in, a graph that tells me when I’m not hitting that target, to hold me to account. NaNo’s therefore a great tool, as I hate the idea that other people can see me falling behind target.
I’ll beat it. And the more difficult it is – exams? Ballet classes? Away for half the month without internet? – the more I’ll want to do it, the more I’ll want to win.
Just to prove that I can.
Last year I did Camp NaNoWriMo both sessions, July and August, as well as full NaNo in November. It was fun. I wrote three first drafts and I’m pretty proud of all of them, even if I haven’t managed to find time to edit them yet because of other projects getting in the way. However, this year I wasn’t so sure if I was going to be doing it.
June is a bad month. I’ve got exams, important ones. July would be better, as aside from a school show, a ballet show, and an orchestra tour, I’m free the whole lot – probably. For me, that’s not busy.
Also, I’m doing a lot of editing at the moment. As well as finishing off the line-edits on the seventh draft of Watching (which are not too major but very slow as it involves restructuring dodgy sentences…), I’m trying to second draft all three of last year’s first drafts.
I don’t have time to write a new novel at the moment.
I realised that I couldn’t think of NaNo as something which had rules I HAD to follow. By writing another first draft I’d be delaying important editing, and just giving myself more work later on. NaNo is meant to be helpful.
So I’m using this month to write the second draft of Destroying, the sequel to Watching. It’s quite a major job because of the edits I made to Watching since I wrote that first draft, and it’s going to be hard work. But unless I have a motivator, I’m not going to get it done.
And so it will be the wordcount for a second draft I’ll be plugging into the website. I won’t be word-sprinting. I won’t be doing ‘dares’ and adding ninjas to my story and breaking the fourth wall and ignoring typos and killing my inner editor. I’ll be working much slower than I do during NaNo.
But I’ll get something done that needs to be done, and Camp NaNoWriMo will help me do it.
It’s a tool, not a rule, after all.