There are three things I’ve always wanted to do, three things that I view as extremely hard or partially impossible:

  1. Running a full marathon.
  2. Finishing P90X, a fitness program that’s been on my resolutions list for … oh, at least six years.
  3. And finally … becoming a NaNoWriMo finisher!

I can’t remember how many years I’ve signed up for November’s National Novel Writing Month only to barely get past the first few thousand words. Six? Seven? Eight? Well, let’s just say many, many, MANY years. And every time, I have an excuse for not finishing: Because I was on deadline with Beauty Shop for Rent. Because I had to finish Just Flirt. This past year, I dropped my NaNo plans after receiving manuscript notes for a current project from my agent in mid-October. Surely rewriting that was a better use of my time, yes? Yes. And besides, isn’t November the dumbest month for such a project, what, with Thanksgiving, my kids home from college, and the holidays coming up? Yeah, I know, right?

But despite these excuses, my failure to finish mostly came from one simple reason:

I choked.

Now, maybe there’s a chance that NaNoWriMo is not for me after all. Maybe I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t like puking out a manuscript in thirty days like Maggie Stiefvater explained in her hilarious Dear John letter to NaNoWriMo. Maybe my Achilles can’t handle running 26.2 miles. Maybe Tony Horton would get on my nerves and make me want to jump off a cliff after 90 days of P90X. Maybe I should forget these goals and focus on more realistic ones. (Especially since jumping off a cliff would really hurt my writing career with the broken fingers and possibly dying part.) But I can’t. Why? Because I never gave them an honest try.

Enter Camp NaNoWriMo.

Held in April and July, it’s the “lighter” version of NaNoWriMo. Here’s more information from their website:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. Participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word draft during the month of November. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a more open-ended version of our original November event. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers may attempt non-novel projects. Camp is a creative retreat for whatever you’re working on!

Things to like about this:

  • You’re able to tailor the word count and project types to better suit your needs and goals. (I’m sticking with 50,000.)
  • It’s NOT IN NOVEMBER, when my kids come home from college, when I host a crap-ton of folks for Thanksgiving, and spending the following weekend decorating for Christmas!
  • They also have a Camp NaNoWriMo for Young Writers, which is really cool.

I really want to do this.

No, let me rephrase that: I’m going to do this!

No, wait, let me throw in some bold, caps, and possibly offensive language: I’M SO GOING TO FREAKING DO THIS!

(Sorry. Couldn’t help it. The word just felt right so I went for it.)

Anybody care to join me this April? Or, are you planning on doing this in July? For those who have raised their hands, here’s some helpful articles and books to get you prepped, ready, and excited:

Story First, Writing Second – Especially Come November by Lisa Cron on Writer Un-Boxed

Here’s What Both Pantsing and Plotting Miss: The Real Story also by Lisa Cron on Writer Un-Boxed

The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel by Randy Ingermanson. (I’ve used this many, many times over the year but I must admit to hardly ever getting past Step 8.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder which, yes, is targeted for screenwriters but is still extremely helpful for novel writers!

The many videos by The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson, and her blog.

Oh, and by the way? I’m also going to run a marathon AND finish that blast P90X.

Just saying…

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