Online writing challenge offers relief for isolated writers
By Cheryl Minns, Senior Columnist
Now that we’re living in a world where social distancing and self-isolation are encouraged, it can be difficult for creative individuals to display their art and connect with their communities. Fortunately for writers, there exists an online writing challenge where writers can escape into their little worlds for 30 days.
Camp NaNoWriMo runs from April 1 to 30 at nanowrimo.org. It’s a more relaxed version of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an online writing competition that happens every November. Unlike the November version where participants attempt to write 50,000-word novels, the April version allows writers to set their own project goals and attempt any kind of writing project, all with the support of the international NaNoWriMo community.
I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo several times over the past few years. During that time, I’ve figured out a few good ways to reach my goal and win the writing challenge. Not that winning should be the main focus, but it does come with a few perks, including a Camp NaNoWriMo certificate and rewards from sponsors.
Since Camp NaNoWriMo allows participants to set their own project goals, it’s the perfect opportunity to develop a writing routine that works with your schedule. Try committing to writing one to two hours a day, even if you have to break that time up into smaller chunks. Give yourself a weekly word goal—anywhere from 500 to 5,000 words or more—and see how many weeks you can meet it. Once you get into a routine, you’ll get used to sitting down in front of your keyboard or notebook and writing what comes to mind, instead of choosing a random moment to write and hoping for inspiration to strike.
At Camp NaNoWriMo, you can write about anything you want. Your project isn’t a class assignment, there aren’t any specific guidelines, and it won’t be graded. It’s an opportunity to write a story that matters to you and to have fun with it. Coming from a journalism background, I remember feeling a bit lost without rules and formulas to follow in my project. But once I got used to the idea of writing my project however I wanted, it was one of the most freeing writing experiences I’ve ever had. That’s why I continue taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo every year.
Camp NaNoWriMo is a great way to find a supportive community to connect with other writers, get feedback on your writing and goals, and get encouragement to reach the finish line. Participants can connect with writers all over the world—including some best-selling authors who offer words of advice in their online pep talks. There are also Vancouver-based groups, such as the Other 11 Months, that offer writers a supportive online space to share their ideas and work on their goals.
To sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo, go to nanowrimo.org, sign up for a free account, and then create your camp project by entering your project title and goal. This project is also good for teachers and their classes!
Camp NaNoWriMo will also take place in July.