When I won NaNoWriMo last November, I had a little over fifty thousand words, but I did not finish my story. I won, I printed out my winner’s certificate, I bought the T-shirt, and I put the story away. I figured I could finish it when things were not so hectic. I didn’t look at again until the day before yesterday. Why that day? It was Monday, June thirtieth – the day before the start of Camp NaNoWriMo.
Camp NaNoWriMo takes place twice a year and is described by some as “NaNo Light.” You can set your own word goal, starting as low as ten thousand words, and you can do any kind of writing. It doesn’t have to be a novel; it could be a memoir or a script or anything else you want to write. You also get cabin mates to help you in your Camp endeavors. My daughter has been doing it for years. She has tried to get me involved and I have always said a very definite, “No!”
I was sure that one intense writing month was enough for me, but this year, I thought of my poor unfinished story and I decided I wanted to finish it.
That’s what I’m doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, which started yesterday and ends on the last day of July. I’ve set my goal at thirty thousand words, though I really have no idea how many words it will take to finish the story. I am not a planner; I just sit down, start writing, and see where the story takes me. Right now, the story is at sea, heading for a hidden island sanctuary. It’s so well hidden, I’m not sure how my characters are going to find it, but that’s okay. There’s a character on the ship who knows and I am confident that she will get us there.
I’m hoping she will do it today. I started writing the sea voyage yesterday and I only got 527 words before bedtime. I thought it was a bit early in the game to be staying up past my bedtime to write, so I decided to have faith in my ability to catch up on a better day. I only need 968 words per day to meet my goal and I tell myself that should be easy, after the 1,667 I needed in November. As of my bedtime last night, I was the only person in my cabin who had officially written anything at all. That might make me feel superior if I didn’t know that my daughter is a night person. She was writing long after I went to bed. I’m sure she has passed my total with no trouble by now.
Knowing her, she has at least tripled it. Her goal is fifty thousand words and she has never set a NaNoWriMo goal that she has not met. Her first year, she lost two weeks to friendship crises and still finished with time to spare. Those of us who engage in word wars with her do it to increase our own word counts. I don’t know of anyone who has ever won a word war with my daughter. I wish I could say she gets her writing speed from me, but the truth is, I have trouble coming up with a five hundred word blog post once a week. I’m not a bad writer but I am also not a fast writer.
That’s okay. Camp NaNoWriMo has another interesting feature: you can drop your word goal at any time.