For those of you un-hip to the writing sensation, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it occurs every November. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in the span of one month. Some call it ambitious, others call it crazy. Brooke and I attempted it for the first time last November and we kicked serious butt. At the end of the month we each had a 50,000+ word draft and the confident glow of champions.
Looking back, I’m shocked that I achieved my word count. November 2015 was one of the busiest months of my life. I was swamped with deadlines at work and frantically tying up all the loose ends for my December wedding. I didn’t expect myself to lose my cool over something as girly and mainstream as a wedding, but…I did. Despite the stress I plowed through NaNoWriMo, had a beautiful wedding (NERD ALERT: I got married in a library), a relaxing honeymoon, and finished 2015 happier than I had ever been and full of hope for 2016. If I could successfully juggle writing, wedding planning, and a demanding day job during November, what could possibly stop me from making 2016 the year I achieve literary greatness? As the new year dawned I felt certain that this was to be the year I got serious about my writing ambitions. This was to be the year I wrote every single day. In short, this was to be the year I turned pro.
And then…life happened.
Life got busy, not as busy as last November – if I’m lucky nothing will ever be that stressful again – but life got busy nonetheless. And now it’s the end of June. The year is nearly half over and I’m as far from literary greatness as I’ve ever been. Heck, I’m not even writing everyday.
This is what I’ve realized. Life is ALWAYS going to be busy. There is ALWAYS going to be something new you have to deal with. If you’re not starting a new job or going back to school, you’re moving house, getting married, having a baby, dealing with family drama, toiling under a deadline, etc…, etc… I repeat: Life is ALWAYS going to be busy. Your dreams are like house plants. When you’re busy they get neglected, and if you continue to be busy, they will continue to be neglected…and then they will shrivel up and die.
I’m as guilty as anyone. It’s easy to let the daily grind consume your existence and it’s hard to focus your creative energy on your dreams. I’ve taken the easy route and now I’m way of track. Since January I’ve been letting my writing dreams take a permanent back seat to life’s never-ending laundry list. But here’s the thing: If you go weeks, months, or (gasp!) years between writing, then you aren’t a writer anymore.
That’s why I’m excited for Camp NaNoWriMo this July. It’s a chance to get my writing life back on track before it’s too late. A writing challenge is exactly what I need to shake things up and re-set my priorities.
July’s Camp NaNoWriMo is a lot like November’s NaNoWriMo, but it encourages creative and flexible goal setting. Instead of 50,000 words for the month, you set your own goal – anything from 30 to 1,000,000. Some people, like SS Press’s very own Brooke Stewart, choose to get really creative with their goals, making a time or page count commitment to revision. I’ve even heard of graphic novelists getting in on the fun, check out this LINK for more info.
My July calendar is choke full of work deadlines, family obligations, and home renovations, but despite the craziness on my agenda I feel positive about taking on the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge. After all, Camp NaNoWriMo is “an idyllic writers retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”
I love that description and it is what makes the whole NaNoWriMo experience so inspiring. Writing happens smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life, not when all the stars align, not when things settle down at work, not when your kids are grown up. With dreams, timing isn’t everything. It either happens now, or it happens never.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. -Stephen King
My goal for Camp is 20,000 words. You’ll hear back from me late July. Until then, wish me luck! Stay tuned for Brooke’s next post mid-July.
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo? What have been your experiences? Is it something you’ve never done but have been wanting to try? Share in the comments below!