by Emily Gordis, NaNoWriMo Program Associate
National Novel Writing Month is known for launching thousands of writers on a mission to write a novel of 50,000 word in the month of November. But we’re also hard at work in the summer, running two sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo, a program with flexible word-count goals. Our next session begins July 1 and it’s a creative experiment and experience all at once.
Camp NaNoWriMo features unique cabins where participants meet up with fellow writers. These virtual spaces to convene, encourage, and commiserate are part of what defines the NaNo experience: making the traditionally solitary act of writing a novel a communal, unforgettable time. The cabins are a built-in support network. Participants can be paired with friends in their cabins, but others elect to meet new people based on everything from genre to age to word-count goals. Some even go for random matching, creating some of the most wonderful and unexpected friendships.
One of the other important elements of Camp NaNo is its flexibility. Participants set their word-count goal for the month anywhere from 10,000 to 999,999. As always with NaNo programs, participants can write in any genre. NaNo fosters individuality and creativity, providing a structure for people to throw structure out the window.
During the month, we also feature weekly pep talks from other members of the online community, advice just writer-to-writer. It’s one of the things we really value: the unique voices of our participants.
On that note, it’s no secret that we believe that stories matter. That’s why we ran the #My1stStory campaign earlier this month, asking people around the world to share their first writing memories. The responses were funny, humbling, and moving. NaNoWriMo wants you to tell your first story as much we do as your hundredth story. We believe in the value of creativity and speaking up. You can see just a few of the marvelous stories from the campaign here.
The aim of Camp NaNoWriMo is to finish a first draft of a novel by the end of July—a first draft in all its unpolished glory. There’s plenty of time to edit later, but you can never edit if you don’t take that first bold, crazy step. NaNo creates the push for thousands of people every year to take that first step.
Camp NaNoWriMo kicks off on July 1 and we hope you’ll join our writers around the world to tell your story—or share the idea with your students and colleagues.