The Writer’s Journey is a column dedicated to different styles of writing
and the exploration of one writer’s path to publication.

Written by Samantha House

Camp NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) is next month, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to dedicate some time to your writing, especially because it provides you the support of like-minded people from around the world – quite the bonus considering how lonely writing can be. You can work on poetry, short stories, novels, plays, or editing an already-written work, but the best part? It’s 100% free!

The camp is available twice every year, once in April and again in July. After you sign up, you set your target word count, fill out some basic information about yourself and the project you’ll be focusing on, and then everyone is assigned to a ”cabin.” 

Cabins are your main support group, and you can either bunk with up to 19 random people or set specific criteria and create a private cabin which can be fun, because if you know others who are signed up for the camp, you can invite them to your cabin and support one another in your writing goals! Either way, though, cabins provide a discussion forum for you and your bunk mates so you can support each other in reaching your goals.

Just in case you’re not great with human interaction, too,
it’s entirely up to you how much you participate with your cabin.

On that note, you can opt out of being in a cabin if you wish. You’ll still get support from the NaNoWriMo headquarters, but I think doing so misses the biggest benefit of the camp – interaction with other writers. These are people who are trying to do the same thing you are, and being in the same boat, they’re usually very supportive of you and your journey. The site also comes complete with forums which allow you to talk to people from other cabins and solo writers (which is great if you have a question your cabin mates can’t answer), but your cabin is there just for you. Taking part in the camp also affords you special care packages which have supportive articles, writing tips, and tricks for circumventing possible stumbling blocks with your chosen project. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are also utilized with camp, and are generally used for real time conversation, although once again, it is not a requirement to participate.

Each camp usually offers unique activities throughout the month, as well, to encourage you to reach your word count. I really like, that everyone gets a target on their main camp page, and as you approach your word count goal, an arrow moves closer and closer to the center…’

I want that bulls-eye!

Signing up for and participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is free for everyone, because it’s hosted by a non-profit organization. That being said, you can purchase merchandise from the online store if you’d like, and the proceeds go right back into the program and organization, but it’s not uncommon for the NaNoWriMo staff to throw out a call for donations, so keep that in mind as you consider how to best support the camp. If neither of those options appeals to you, at the end of each camp, different writing-related sponsors typically offer special discounts to campers, and some of those sales end up returning to the camp.

Here’s what it all boils down to, though: if you are struggling to find time to write or get into a writing routine, Camp NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to address that issue. By helping you set practical, obtainable goals, giving you access to a host of writing resources, and professional- as well as peer-driven support, you can make some real and rewarding progress on your writing projects when the words have been struggling to flow..

I’ll be there in July. You can find me as Sam4: I’ll be the one working on her historical novel. Stop and say hi!

Hope you all have a wonderful and creative day!

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