My Time at Camp

The night before my early July road trip, a bunch of writer friends were texting and tweeting about Camp NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and the idea is to write a novel (50k words) in a month. Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in April and July and is more laid back and flexible. You set your own word count or project goal and “win” if you reach it. Writers can opt to join a virtual cabin, full of people who make witty camp related puns and encourage one another throughout the month.

Sounds great, right? And I didn’t want to be left behind. So as I was busy trying to finish packing for my trip, and more and more of my friends were jumping on the camp bus (see, the puns are endless!), I decided to sign up. I need serious motivation to finish my current round of revisions and figured it would help to have a little online encouragement. When it came time to set my goal, I thought that sixty hours over the course of the month (roughly two hours a day) would work. Totally doable.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

As hubs kindly pointed out: I forgot about life. There were a few days where I buckled down and did two to three hours in one sitting, heck I even had an awesome stretch of four hours, thanks to sprints with my cabin mates and the family being otherwise occupied. But on a daily basis, between work, soccer, and general mom/homeowner/adult duties, it is extremely difficult to carve out two hours a day. And yes, I realize that anything I say in the next few sentences will sound like an excuse, but unfortunately writing often takes a back seat to everything else in my life. Especially when I’m trying to revise something that I have read and re-read so many times it makes me dizzy.

My office floor contains multi-colored post-its lined up in rows, surrounded by an edited copy of my manuscript and piles of notes. Several days this month I walked into the room, plopped down on the ground, and simply stared at everything. At one point I asked the cat (who likes to nap on the post-its because of course she does) if she had any suggestions. She didn’t. Revision is not easy, and I may have been foolish to think an online camp would be enough motivation to face the difficult task ahead.

Don’t get me wrong. Camp was great. I had fun exchanging cute gifs on twitter and loved our “craft tent”. When I can carve the time to do it, writing sprints are one of my favorite online tools (write/revise for thirty minutes, then break for ten and report your progress) and a few of my cabin mates joined in, which made me very happy. But it wasn’t enough.


Sad, right? It’s the last day of camp and I’m barely at 25%. On the positive side, I revised for 14 hours this month. One of my cabin mates hit her goal of 50k. A few others are close to reaching their goals. August is a bit less busy – no soccer, but two real world camping trips – and I’m hoping to start querying this project in September. In fact, I’m declaring that as my new goal: Query ready by labor day. And I’d like to have the outline of my next project ready for NaNoWriMo in November. Because we all need to keep stretching and challenging ourselves in order to grow.

Good luck to anyone pushing to the finish line today, and have a safe trip back home, campers. See you next year!

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