Camp NaNoWriMo — abbreviated “Camp”— is different from NaNoWriMo in November because it's more flexible. Unlike in November, the event in July and April encourages all kinds of writing projects from short stories to memoir. Challenge yourself to write a poem everyday, or draft a film script!
But first, a pep talk. It’s easy for things to get in the way of writing or to not feel up to it — don’t beat yourself up for that. The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to have fun and be creative.
Camp is meant to be flexible and tailored to the writer, so work at whatever pace is comfortable for you. Word count goals can be as low or as high as you want. I participated in Camp last April and had a fun time writing 20,000 words while enrolled in university.
Even a goal of 100 words is progress, and you can change your goal almost anytime until the end of Camp. Because Camp is so flexible, it also doesn't matter if you start late. So set your goal for whatever you want!
Ready to get started? Here’s how to create a Camp NaNoWriMo project!
On the NaNoWriMo website you’ll see a purple banner announcing Camp July. If it isn't there, you're looking for the green button that says “Create A Camp Project”. Click it and it will show you a goal window.
The first page is the Overview tab. To start, name your project. Don’t worry if you don’t have a good name for your project yet. You can write anything, even “Camp NaNoWriMo Project”.
The Project Status changes over time, and it's a tool for you to announce when your project reaches a new stage in development. You can update this status whenever you want. Most projects start in the Prepping or In Progress phase.
Next, choose your Privacy setting. The default is Public, which means anyone can see what your project is.
Select what type of project you’re working on. Novel is the default. In the time I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo events, I’ve always worked on novels, but I challenge you to try something different for Camp if you're not in the middle of another project. This can be a time to grow your writing skills. Try writing in a new genre!
The green button will take you to the next tab.
The Goal tab refines your goal. The type of goal you chose depends on what projects you’re currently working on. With Camp, you can continue to write or edit a draft—no need to start a new one. But, if you’re not working on anything, now is a perfect time to start one. You’re not required to continue old project either! Feeling tired of your last one or have writer's block? It’s time to get your creativity flowing and try something new!
My favorite thing about Camp is that you can change the word count goal. Last November when I participated in NaNoWriMo, I found it difficult to reach 50,000 words on top of my college course load. If you’ve done November NaNoWriMo in the past and found the word count a barrier or burden, set your goal lower to ease some of that pressure.
For April Camp I set my word count goal to 20,000 words and had a much easier time. I might not have started it with a daunting 50,000 words to write.
On the Details tab there’s a long list of genres to choose from. Select your project’s genres. I checked, and you can add all the genres if you want, so no limits!
The project summary can help you tell others about what you’re writing and make it easier for you to feel out your project. Practice writing a blurb in the box, or give general information about what you’re going for.
In the excerpt box you can place quotes or a passage from your project.
The Pinterest and Playlist boxes are optional and for you to have fun with. Music and mood boards are a way for you to think about writing without creating words. Other “writing” activities include research, day dreaming, and making character or plot outlines.
Click Save Project when you're done.
5. You’re Done!
Congratulations, you’ve created a Camp NaNoWriMo project! A banner like this will appear on your home page.
You can edit this project any time with the setting icon, including the cover image! I strongly suggest finding a picture that reflects the mood of your project, since you’ll be seeing it every time you choose to update your progress. The right cover gets me inspired and excited, and I use symbols or important images for my covers. For example, I have a YA project set on the east coast, so it’s cover image is a lighthouse.
Easy, right? If you need more motivation to start a project this July, NaNoWriMo has some excellent pep talks from authors like Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Acevedo, and more!
That quote is from Elizabeth Acevedo, who talks about having a crammed schedule in her pep talk and defiantly reaching her word count anyway.
For me, the reasons why I put off writing are usually procrastination-related by spending hours on YouTube/Netflix. But this July, I’m making a commitment to my project. That lighthouse book I mentioned? I'm writing the second draft for Camp.
Some writers find that setting ridiculous goals like 100,000 words motivates them. For me? It’s seeing my line graph climb up and up to my goal.
As a final point I’d like to say you shouldn’t feel pressured to do this, but excited to jump in. NaNoWriMo is meant to be fun and a creative challenge. And if you're not in a good headspace right now, your future projects will be waiting for you whenever you're ready.
Ready, set, write!
is a writer based in North Carolina. She attends writing classes of all kinds at UNC Chapel Hill and has a particular fondness for sharp imagery. In her free time, she drafts her own novels.