So last year on the 31st of October I decided to join in NaNoWriMo as a spur of the moment thing that I thought would be fun. We were travelling around New Zealand at the time and, having just completed Inktober, I felt like another month challenge was just the thing for me on this trip. If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo it stands for National Novel Writing Month and to ‘win’ you have to write 50,000 words of a book during November. It can be any kind of fictional book, or if you are a NaNo Rebel you can do non-fiction! Talk about last minute, NaNoWriMo starts on the 1st of November every year, so I started with nothing planned out except a title and just saw where things took me.
The answer turned out to be a spy thriller novel with a strong female lead! It is loosely based on my travels around New Zealand, my pukeko obsession, my love of Queen music, my knowledge of RF and antennas and a lifetime spent reading and watching spy thrillers. The novel is currently under review and I hope to be sharing it with you all soon. Although, if anyone fancies being a beta reader and giving me feedback, just let me know! I don’t want to reveal the title just yet, but I will tell you it would sit well with the Robert Ludlum titles on my bookshelf.
Anyway, this blog is actually about Camp NaNoWriMo that I have just finished participating in in July. This is a virtual writing retreat which to quote their web site is ‘an idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life’. I had enjoyed NaNoWriMo so much, I thought this would be a great thing to do. For Camp NaNoWriMo you can set any kind of writing goal that you want to, the idea is to get people writing in any way, rather than with a specific goal of writing a novel. I decided to set a goal of working on my blog posts for 1 hour a day. The idea being that I can spend a bit more time doing some more in depth posts and get a bit ahead so I’m not trying to finish them off every Monday just before I need to post them!
I even joined a virtual cabin with other writers to have a different experience this time round. Because I was travelling across New Zealand when I did NaNoWriMo I couldn’t get to any of the writing events they run during November, so I thought I’d make up for it this time. I asked to be put in a cabin with a random selection of participants
The goal of writing one hour a day worked really well for me. I managed to do the tear down of the satellite dish, which took time researching all the components, let alone the time it took to get it down off the wall! I have also got the basis of several blog posts up and ready to finalise when the time comes and ideas for many more. I ended up writing a couple of pieces that I don’t know if I will ever publish, as they are on odd subjects, but regardless of this I enjoyed writing them and feel better for having done so. I also wrote this meta blog post about writing blog posts! More importantly it got me into the habit of writing something every day, which turns out to be an enjoyable task. If you had told the 14 year old me I would enjoy writing I would have laughed at you! I suppose that is the difference between having to write formulaic essays on something you are not necessarily interested in for English at school and writing about things that you find interesting.
I am really glad I decided to join the virtual cabin, my cabin mates turned out to be an eclectic and supportive group. We had a real mix of people in their aims for camp NaNoWriMo, from writing a Haiku a day, working on their dissertation, writing for 30 minutes a day, an illustrated plant guide, writing stories and seeing where they take you, writing poetry, getting into the habit of writing every day and working on ideas they have started ages ago. The common theme was the support we gave each other in achieving our goals, it was a truly nice and supportive environment to be in. I thank each one of my cabin mates for being so great.
The big question on my mind now is: am I going to do NaNoWriMo again this year?
I don’t know is the honest answer. I will be doing Inktober again, and producing an ink drawing each day in October against the provided prompt. I think I might do it thematically this year and base it on swamphens! I was very restrained last year and did only one picture with a swamphen in it, for the prompt ‘guarded’. I have some ideas about a spy thriller that could develop into a sequel but I would also like to write a popular science book about antennas. The real question is do I have the time to dedicate to 50,000 words in November when I am not on holiday and working. The answer to that is you can make time for anything if you want to do it enough. I think I’ll stick to previous form that worked well and make that decision on the 31st of October again!