Camp NaNoWriMo Failed Again! … Or Did It?

Last month, I tentatively accepted the “challenge” of Camp NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar, it is simply a summer-time version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place each November, the “goal” being to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I accepted the challenge, and I failed.

But how much can one fail at something self-paced?

Ultimately, I got a couple thousand words written on one project, nearly one thousand on another, refined a second draft of the first 1/4 of a WIP novel, accepted a handful of very helpful beta readers, redefined the “genre” of one project, joined several (very) beneficial writing groups, created a digital book cover, and unveiled a few plot twists even I didn’t know were coming.

This is what I love about the NaNoWriMo institution. It allows you to set a goal. It prompts you to keep going when the going gets tough. It creates atmosphere for you to brainstorm with other users and even to utilize some of the great ideas that aren’t being used (with full consent of the original creator). It gives you insight from other authors– some very successful, others just seeing the first results of their accomplishments.

I prefer the November writing to the summer writing. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s tradition– I really don’t know.

But Camp helped me figure a lot out, it coaxed me into working on aspects I hadn’t considered.

So maybe I failed at the original goal I’d set for myself (25k words on a new project), but it sure rocked.

Really looking forward to November. No one needs an excuse to write, but sometimes it’s really the best kick in the pants possible.

Kudos to all of you who participated, those of you who reached your goals, and those of you who have been inspired.

Write on!

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2 thoughts on “Camp NaNoWriMo Failed Again! … Or Did It?

  1. Jim Snell says:

    Wow. Sounds to me like you got a hell of a lot done!


    I haven’t tried the Nanowrimo thing. Gotta say, I’m a bit leery. First of all, 50,000 words isn’t really a novel. It’s maybe a novella. Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t agree on much but they thought the perfect novel length was 70,000 words. The Great Gatsby is 70,000 words. Now it seems like it’s a bit of a short book.

    In terms of really writing a book in a limited or concentrated period of time, seems to me that a 3 month period makes more sense. If you write 1,000 words a day, in 3 months you have the first draft of a 90,000 word novel – which is about the perfect length for today.

    Although, for me, I tend to think maybe the NFL football season would be better to compare with. Write for the 16 weeks of the season. Divide it up however you wish. But at the end of the season, someone’s the Super Bowl champ, and someone’s got a new book to show for it.


    • srmeisinger says:

      The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to have a complete novel by the end of the 30 days. It’s just the incentive to write and it puts it in terms of a reasonable goal. 50k words in 30 days amounts to just over 1600 words per day– something most people can manage. The creator of the thing just wanted there to be a time each year when all the people who’ve always thought to themselves, “I could write a novel,” but “don’t have the time,” or “don’t have the motivation,” could have a good “excuse” to get started. There are minimal “rules,” but they can all be broken, and you don’t “win” anything except the good feeling that comes with accomplishing a goal. Chris Baty (the NaNoWriMo creator) wrote a book called “No Plot, No Problem” and the book itself is a pretty good testament to what NaNoWriMo stands for in its essence. I really recommend giving the institution itself a look. They’re a nonprofit all about the promotion of loving literature and writing as creative self-expression. Each year they partner with all sorts of institutions, including libraries, to celebrate writing and to promote the idea that anyone can do it, you don’t have to be an English Lit major or a creative writing professor. There are hundreds of thousands of participants, all of which they encourage to function as “sponsors,” raising money for the nonprofit, and their Young Writer’s Program donates books and resources to educators around the world with the money collected.

      They’ve also created “Now What?” months for the time between each November, encouraging revision, talking about different publishing options, etc.

      Also, I’ve been collecting information from people sending out queries (as I’d like to begin sending my own within the next year) and have seen an overwhelming amount of publishers insist that anything over 90k words from a debut author will more likely be turned down immediately. That number drops even further if writing for Young Adult, where 60k-70k is preferred.

      That being said, NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. I’ve only met the 50k mark once. Usually, I can’t stand to write through. I need to go back and edit as I write, but that’s just how my brain works. I like to participate because it goads me into writing when I feel reluctant, and I’ve sprouted all of my favorite ideas (one of which is just seeing focus now after it started as a NaNovel 4 years ago) from NaNo, whether I followed through with them at that time or not.

      I think I made a post somewhere before about “Published WriMos,” but for real, “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan started as a NaNovel. It’s due to be made into a movie in 2015, I believe. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen was also a NaNovel!

      Wow, didn’t mean to rant! I just love NaNoWriMo so much for what it stands for. It’s encourages so much. 🙂


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