No Mo’ Camp NaNoWriMo


Jesus Christ, it's not brain surgery.

Writing is hard.

As I mentioned back in this blog post, Camp NaNoWriMo Procrastinato, I was participating in the April NaNoWriMo challenge.  To review, here’s an explanation from the website:

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Based on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help you write the rough draft of your novel in a month… other than November!

Camp NaNoWriMo was established in 2011 as a project of the Office of Letters and Light, the parent 501(c)(3) nonprofit to National Novel Writing Month and the Young Writers Program. 2013 Camp sessions will take place in April and July.

What: Writing a novel from scratch in one month’s time.

Who: You! (And about 20,000 other novelists around the world.) Let’s write some perhaps-awful, but definitely lengthy, prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster. Writing begins at 12:00 AM on April 1, and again on July 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach your word-count goal by 11:59 PM on the last day of the month. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Specifically, I had challenged myself to write 50,000 words (about 200 pages), and those of you who follow my Twitter feed know that I realized about mid month that I was going to fall well short of my goal.

In the end, I wound up with about 20,000 words and 80 pages, a little over a third of what I had hoped to accomplish. Looking back, it was absolute insanity for me to expect to churn out an average of 1,667 words a day (every day!  For thirty days!) when I had seen myself struggle to produce 500 word posts a couple of times a week over the two year life span of this blog.

And yes, it has not gone unnoticed that I only managed three posts on this blog for the month of April. This experience taught me that I only have so many words a day in me, and I was either going to work on CampNaNoWriMo or I was going to work on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  There would not be both, and I am humbled by (and in awe of) the writers out there who maintain their blogs while simultaneously working on their version of the Great American Novel.

Here are a few other things I learned while failing miserably at Camp NaNoWriMo.

  1. There is way too much good television on this time of year.  In addition to Game of Thrones, which premiered on March 31, right before CampNaNoWriMo kicked off, I’ve been caught up in The AmericansBates MotelOrphan Black, The Bletchley Circle and, of course, Survivor: Caramoan.  Had I known just how demanding my television viewing schedule was going to be this month, I would have realized all my free time would be spent on the sofa, shushing the children, eating crackers, and not writing a novel.
  2. I like names that begin with the letter “M”.  One of my daughters has a name that begins with the letter “M” (Megan) and I found that several characters in the story I was writing also had names that begin with the letter “M”: Millicent, Mildred, Mabel.  As this will create no small amount of confusion in the minds of readers, I understand that I’ll have to go back and mix it up a bit, and add some names that being with the letter “P” or “L”, maybe.  But that doesn’t appear likely on account of this other thing I learned:
  3. I have a great deal of difficulty thinking up names for characters.  I spent way too much time wracking my brain trying to think of a name for a new character I was introducing when I could have been actually, you know, writing.  I finally grew so desperate that I just started typing the word “SOMEONE” in the place where the character’s name belonged, just so I could move on.

In the end, though, I found it really worthwhile, and discovered that maybe I do have a novel in me.  I really encourage anyone out there who’s interested in writing to give the July camp a go.  Arrested Development returns on May 27, though, so just make sure you catch all the episodes before then . . .

If you’re not trying to write a novel, go ahead and watch these shows.


10 thoughts on “No Mo’ Camp NaNoWriMo

  1. Karen says:

    Some technical difficulties this morning. My apologies if this post appears multiple times in the Reader or your email.


  2. Michelle at The Green Study says:

    I did NaNoWriMo in November and while the word count was torture, the bigger lesson was discovering, as you did, that a novel is on the landscape of the possible. I’m going to do it in November again, hoping desperately that I won’t be writing during a Nyquil-induced trance due to the flu! I’m still doing re-writes on passages where I was clearly drunk or stoned.


    • Karen says:

      Yeah, about revising: the thing about NaNoWriMo that absolutely doomed me (aside from watching too much TV) was that I could not keep plodding along and I would get caught up in revisions (which is a NaNoWriMo no-no). The result was that I wound up with 80 pages instead of 200, but I’m pretty pleased with the 80 pages I’ve got.


    • Karen says:

      Haha! Yes, watching television is so much easier than figuring out how to get a character from Point A to Point B in a chapter. 🙂


  3. ClewisWrites says:

    I had to abandon my hopes for Camp NaNo. Some of the same shows sidetracked me as well!


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