My First National Novel Writing Month

I mentioned in another post that I was participating in CampNaNo, and today marks the end of that journey. While some people set lofty goals for these sprint writing months, I decided to start with baby steps, increasing my daily target from 500 to 600 words. This was like taking half a scoop of protein powder and lifting 5 pound weights, compared to those injecting steroids and doing shark squats.

There is discussion over the necessity or gains to performing such writing exercises, and I agree that the high intensity of NaNos can be stressing and ultimately counterproductive for many writers. This was my first one and I knew myself well enough to set proper goals. Because I did, I am a “winner” of CampNaNo. I set out to write 18,600 words in July and I made it with a day to spare. I even got this banner to prove it:


If you’re wondering if it’s a worthy event in which to participate, I will gladly give you my opinion, but I will also say that you should just do it once to learn about yourself and what you need to keep writing.

Anyone can set goals at any time. You can seek support and encouragement from other writers at any time. The writing struggle and doubt that we have is universally shared among authors. None of this changes just because it’s July or November, or any other month a NaNo may take place.

With those points in mind I still appreciate the organizational efforts of the people behind the NaNos, and the details like the small groups, and the email tips, and the provided graphics, prizes, and swag. All of it comes together to enhance the goals, and the comradery, and the emotional connection to your writing.

I will do another NaNo because I liked talking with other writers. I liked cheering for them and listening to where they are in the process. Sure, I can do that anytime, and I will, but it’s an opportunity to make more friends who share particular interests, and that’s never a bad thing.

Some tips:

  1. Know thyself – don’t make ridiculous goals. Ask a little more from yourself than usual, but don’t pretend you’re RoboWriter. “Give the man a hand.”
  2. Use the forums – you can be a hermit the rest of your life, but this month is about demanding more from you, so do pretend you’re a social character and chat with people in your group. Ask questions, update everyone on your progress, etc. It will help you feel better about yourself and your writing.
  3. Take a breather – yes, you have a daily goal, and the little counter is there spewing guilt at you, but when you feel too stressed, especially near the end, walk away for a bit. Then come back and hammer it out.

When you reach the validation stage you may not want to send your precious words across the Internet just so they know you wrote something. In the FAQ you find a link to a website ( where you can generate random words to match your real world count, and this worked like a charm for me.

Thanks to all my cabin mates and good luck with your WIPs. Even if you didn’t meet your goals this month, you will finish and it will be great!

Did you participate in CampNaNo? What was your experience?

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Thanks for reading.



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