I used to sometimes write April Fool’s posts. My rules were 1) that the joke couldn’t be something that would alarm people if they didn’t realize it was a joke, 2) the butt of the joke always had to be me, 3) nothing related to any disaster or illness or danger to anyone.
But even when I tried to stick to those rules, a couple of times one friend or another wouldn’t realize it was a joke right away and sometimes read something between the lines.
With the world in the middle of a deadly pandemic, with a President fond of spouting false information (and who is more concerned with the TV ratings of his press conferences than the thousands of severely ill citizens), this really isn’t a time to write parodies or satires of current events.
So, no jokes from me. No linking to any parody articles. It’s Wednesday. It happens to be the first day of the fourth month of the year. Which happens to be the day that a writing activity I often participates starts.
Therefore, I wanna talk about Camp NaNoWriMo. That’s right! It’s April, and that means an opportunity to do a writing project with the help, encouragement, and maybe even a little competition with friends near and far!
The non-profit that organizes National Novel Writing Month every November also sponsors two related events, one in April and one in July, called Camp NaNoWriMo. You set your own word count goal, can set up writing groups so you and your writing buddies can cheer each other on, and so forth.
With the goals being self-defined, one might wonder what the point is. I like having the expectation that I’ll publish my word-count (or number of words revised, or whatever) regularly. It is fun having a few people to watching and available to commiserate with, as well.
My previous forays at Camp NaNo have met with varying degree of success. This time around I mostly just need something to motivate me to work on my fiction at all. I’ve been quite bad at it. The last thing that I set out and finished was the Christmas Ghost story.
In these trying times, lots of people turn to the arts (if you’re binge watching shows on line, catching up on those audio books you’ve been meaning to get to, et cetera to get through a shelter-in-place or related ordered lockdown, you’re turning to the arts) in times of crisis. And so some of us should try to make more art, as well.
Wanna give it a whirl?
I’m once again participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp is different than the full-fledged National Novel Writing Month in that the word count goal is set by each participant, folks frequently use camp to edit an existing work rather than write new, and the camp website supports small private chat groups called “cabins.” The best part of either project, IMHO, is having a mechanism to publish your daily word count totals, and have friends to encourage you.
At least those are good things for me. I am more productive when there are people I have promised certain things (completed stories, word counts, edits, et cetera). I’m also someone who loves getting in a race with someone on word count, if they’re into that. That doesn’t always work for everyone.
But writing buddies and cabin mates are a good way to have folks to consult with or just get encouragement from or give it to. That’s another thing I find that motivates me: getting to encourage other people and congratulate them on milestones improves my mood considerably. And sometimes when you’re trapped deep in seemingly irresolvable plotholes, anything to perk my mood up is great!
So, that’s what is happening here. If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, especially if you’re interested in joining my Cabin, leave a comment here, or send me a message on twitter, or send me an email with the Contact Me page here—or if you already have another way to ping me use that.
Let’s get writing!
Camp NaNoWriMo is underway, sponsored by the same people who do National Novel Writing Month. Camp happens in April and July each year with far more nebulously defined goals that NaNoWriMo’s big word count target. For camp, you set your own goals. Often people use camp to edit something already written, or to write something shorter than a novel, or to get out of a rut of non-productivity. Because of the camp metaphor, participants are encouraged to join a cabin, which is really just a small on-line chat. You can let yourself be randomly assigned to a cabin, or you can set up a private cabin and invite your friends, or you can join someone else’s private cabin.
I like having the expectation that I’ll publish my word-count (or number of words revised, or what ever) regularly and having at least a few people to kibbitz and commiserate with. My attempts at Camp have had a varying degree of success.
Anyway, part of my Camp NaNoWriMo project for this month is to implement some of the new things and changes that I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been revising my goals. I wrote earlier about why I hadn’t posted a list of goals for the year, nor posted monthly updates. The summary is that I’ve been writing private checklists each month, and so far each of those checklists has included at least one item about better defining my long terms goals. The list of long term goals is shaping up, though there are some details I haven’t quite finalized.
I am still using the model of attempting to replace a bad habit with a better habit. I’m also trying to redirect where I’m expending my energy and attention. I’ve been cutting back a bit on my Twitter activity, for instance. Another more obvious change is that I’ve replaced the labor-intensive Friday Links weekly post with a much easier to assemble Friday Five post.
When I start posting monthly updates on my goals, the posts are likely to be put up on Patreon, rather than here. I’m still figuring out how much and where other things I post a lot (such as my Writing Advice posts or my Why I Love SF/F posts) should be posted/cross-posted and how to manage that without it eating up more time than I’m freeing elsewhere.
I hope to finish a longish NorWesCon Convention report to post here this week. There is at least one movie review and one book review about half finished that should go up soon, too.
So that’s what is happening here. If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, especially if you’re interested in joining my Cabin, leave a comment here, or send me a message on twitter, or send me an email with the Contact Me page here—or if you already have another way to ping me use that.
Let’s get writing!
You set your own goal and if you achieve it, hurrah! You win. The Camp website has a couple of different features that aren’t part of the regular NaNoWriMo, chief among these are virtual cabins. You can set your account be randomly assigned to a cabin, or you can form one of your own and invite your friends to join. Or not do it at all. The cabin is simply a small chat forum that only members of the cabin can post to and see. So it’s a place you can check in for encouragement or to ask questions, or simply report on your progress.
I’ve enjoyed myself every time I’ve participated. I haven’t always hit my goal during Camp. But I do a better job of staying on target for the month than I do at other times. It helps having a goal and people encouraging me.
Every time that I try to recruit folks I know, there are always some who are reluctant because either they tried it before and it didn’t work, or they don’t think they’ll hit any goal, or the like. And I get it, I do. But missing a goal isn’t failure, it’s just missing the goal. We’re too focused on never making mistakes, and forget that the way you learn is to try, and when you don’t succeed the first time, try again. The analogy I’ve used before is a toddler learning to walk. We don’t remember how many times as toddlers we fell down attempting to walk. But we didn’t give up, we kept trying. And now we do it without even thinking.
Learning anything works that way. Maybe you won’t hit your word count goal. Or maybe the story’s plot won’t go in quite the direction you planned. But that’s okay. You tried, and if you let yourself learn from it—and most importantly, try again— you’ll get better next time.
So, wanna join me at Camp NaNoWriMo? If you’re still in doubt, may I suggest this video to help you decide?
Shakira – Try Everything (Official Video)
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Once again, I’m going to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. Camp is similar to the full-fledged National Novel Writing Month, except they’re much looser on the rules (not that the full rules are that restrictive). Camp Nanowrimo is for doing things such as editing/revising a novel (which you may have written during a previous NaNoWriMo, for instance), or working on a smaller project as perhaps a way to practice for trying to write a full 50,000+ word story in 30 days at a subsequent NaNoWriMo.
I’ve used it in the past to do editing, plotting, and revising. Currently, I’m planning to finish off an editing project, which I have described rather facetiously. Though I’ve been so unproductive working on my novel in progress, that I’ve also been thinking of knocking out a few very short stories I’ve been noodling on for a long time first. We’ll see how I feel after work tomorrow!
Why do this as part of Camp Nanowrimo? It’s helpful to me to have a defined goal, with a clear end date and some mechanism for measuring progress. More importantly, a mechanism for reporting progress so I have motivation not to goof off. In most of my previous Camps and Nanos, I’ve managed to remain focused and accomplish at least most of my goal more quickly than when I’m just trying to meet my own monthly tasks.
I enjoy bantering with my writing buddies, including cheering them on when they make progress, or racing with someone to see who can hit a higher word count on a particular day.
So, I’ve invited a bunch of my past writing buddies to be cabin mates (a cabin is a group of participants who share a private message forum and can easily keep track of each others’ progress on the cabin web page). I think we’ve got a good group.
It’s going to be a fun April!