What Camp NaNo Taught Me

7:00 AM

I posted about Camp NaNoWriMo last Tuesday, but that was more of a recap. This is less about me although that's always fun and more about the general experiences I went through last month, so there.

Camp NaNoWriMo is fun. Unless you're like me it's a casual event, less stressful than regular NaNo, and lets you choose your own word count goal so you aren't as trapped going for 50k. I went for 75k, but that's just me - it's an awesome thing to participate in and I had a total blast. 

That doesn't mean it's all fun and games. Like all writing with deadlines it's stressful at times, it's exhausting, you'll probably slip behind at one point or another, and you learn plenty from it. This year I not only wrote 75k, but I also wrote my first fantasy novel, something I never though I would do. 

Here's some of the things I learned this April: 

Deadlines require actual dedication. 

"But obviously," you might say. "How else would you achieve your goals, if you weren't totally dedicated to them?" 

I am a master procrastinator/duty shirker. This doesn't come easy to me at all. I would much rather do the bare minimum (or usually not even) and forget I had a goal to achieve. I like to laze my way through things until the last few days, and then cram like crazy to get it all done. In fact, I like it that way most of the time. I thrive on deadline pressure. 

You can't do that with Camp NaNo. Especially when you're going for 75k. 

It wasn't easy by any means. I loved the story, but it was still a struggle to get up earlier in the mornings or put away the interesting books at night and open up the document and write 3k again. Every. Single. Day. It wears me out. I get sick of it really, really quickly. I got behind just a week in because I needed to figure this out. 

Dedication. I had to learn how to really be prepared. How to pound out those words no matter what it took or how much they sucked. It was hard, but I figured it out. 

Take care of yourself, too. 

I won't lie. April was pretty stressful. Possibly even worse than March, if you remember my post about that. Writing was even harder - and sometimes, it was a source of that stress, just one more thing added to the pile. And sometimes, I needed to step away from it. 

Yeah, and I'm saying this right after the first point, too. 

Writing is important. I'm dedicated to it almost to a fault sometimes. My default is that I have to write, no matter what else I do, and it's crushing when everything else feels like it's going downhill. This happened several times over the course of the month - I had to step back, breathe, and focus on taking care of myself first and foremost. 

Word count doesn't matter. 

Yes, I know, says the person who wrote 75k. But that actually proved it to me, because let me tell you: that drafted sucked. It's one of the worst I've ever pounded out. I'm so, so glad I did it, and I do love it, but I learned that you can write as many words as you want and only a few of them will be good at first anyway. It's a goal I set for myself, but it's not a standard. Word count does not matter in the long run. 

That's all that's important anyway. 

Fantasy is hard to write. 

I mean it. I'm a sci-fi writer myself, and that's pretty dang hard too, but fantasy. You have to create a whole world. You have to make that world interesting. There's a thousand little details that go into it, and while it's a total blast, it's difficult. So much respect for you fantasy writers. 

I'm glad I jumped right into it! It taught me a lot about worldbuilding and character development and paying attention to detail. Every minute of it was the best. 

the hobbit animated GIF
I was basically Bilbo Baggins on this journey and it was great. 

Writer friends are the best. 

Kinda obvious, yes, but Camp just reinforced that for me. There was always someone to encourage me, or help me get some writing done, or brainstorm/fangirl/procrastinate with, and I appreciate that a lot. I'm an extrovert, so it really helps me to have people alongside to provide conversation and encouragement. 

You guys are awesome. 

Just saying. 

A formal apology to all the people who put up with me this month. 

Writing is a beautiful, beautiful thing, even when it sucks.

As my lovely writerly friend Lily @ Lily's Notes in the Margins said on Twitter the other day: 

@theAimeeMeester Because the best things in life require effort, and I think we can agree that books are the best thing ever ever.

Did you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo? What did you work on? What did you learn? What has writing taught you in general? Comment away. 


  1. I feel this post on a personal level because I set deadlines for my own projects on myWriteClub and damn, is it stressful. My next rewrite is actually due this Saturday, which is all levels of argh-how-can-I-do-this. But you know, I write like a maniac and it normally does work out.

    And yeah, word count isn't even that important until you realise you're going way too long and rambly. I normally log my progress according to chapters anyways, just to make sure I'm writing down the actual plot that's supposed to happen in a chapter rather than just paragraphs of words that I'll throw out later.

    75K is a truly momentous goal and you are awesome for reaching it. I think I might join Camp NaNo in July, since I have a project I wanna write in that month ... we'll see. At that point I suppose I shall look back on this post to remind myself :D

    1. You've got this! *gives chocolate* I suck at deadlines, but hey, I do try sometimes. xD It's actually kinda worked out lately. Hm.

      My word counts tend to be on the longer side with first drafts, just because I throw EVERYTHING in there. I do stuff more by chapters with editing for the reasons you just gave. *le sigh*

      Thank you! I'm not really sure how I did it. o.0

  2. Again, congrats. Fantasy is hard, but I swear, I gets a ton easier. Once you've got that first novel, you know more of what to expect. I've always been writing fantasy, so I actual struggle with other genres - my Camp novel was Science Fiction, and I've just started dabbling in steampunk. And yes - it's all in the little details. And definitely the research too, because that can save you a lot.

    This is a fantastic post. I feel this, because it basically puts to words what I felt during/after Camp NaNo. You made some wonderful points here. :)

    1. *nods* I'm excited to get into it more sometime! Sci-fi and steampunk is my home territory, so it's a little scary getting out of that. And alllll the research.

  3. You are so right. Word count doesn't matter. When I meandering around trying figure out where my characters are going with this small talk and mediocre action, I can write 2k before I find my point. And more than likely most of that 2k will get dumped in revisions.

    But, you know, sometimes you've got to get out 2k of nothing before something starts happening.

    Fantasy is awesome! I love it. There is a lot if detail though.

    1. Yessssss. I like to ramble, and then encourage myself with the large word count, which really isn't cool. It's taken a while to realize that it's not quantity so much as quality that matters. :P

  4. (If this comes as a duplicate sorry; my computer is being weird).
    I would have thought sci-fi and fantasy required the same amount of work in world building and such, since they're both not really in "this world." How does that work? I've never written sci-fi; just fantasy.
    I had the same issues as you did during April (minus the 75k) except it was my writing and reading which had to get put on the side burner. I couldn't really procrastinate graduation. :\ And now I'm out of the habit of writing and need to force myself back in.
    I tagged you for another thingy (not as much work as the other one) here: http://writerandproud.blogspot.com/2015/05/failing-camp-nanowrimo-and-why-its-okay.html

    1. I'm not sure xD I'm sure they're equally hard, but I've always done sci-fi and it's come much more naturally to me. So it doesn't feel as time-consuming. *shrugs* I had to put a lot more effort into putting together a fantasy plot and world, because I really had to think about it more. Sci-fi is my ultimate love. <3

    2. Haha, I'll have to try it sometime, but fantasy is MY love, so you don't have to worry about sci-fi getting jealous. XD

  5. Congratulations for hitting 75k! I didn't get the chance to do NaNo this year, so maybe next year! But fantasy is hard to right, I'm with you 100% on that. The world building requires so much detail and then there's finding fantasy-sounding names. I mean, sci-fi is a bit easier since it's based of science, but fantasy? Oh maann.

    1. Oh, yes. The names took me FOREVER. I tweaked around Arabic names in the end, but really, getting that idea took a long time. And honestly? I didn't even try with place names. I'll do that in revision. :P

  6. Write* it's very late and I can't spell. :')

  7. I never really got onto the bandwagon with NaNoWriMo until recently. I've known some people to argue that it's dumb, but the thing I've found about it is it's nice to know you're not alone. You're not the only one that wants to write a story. There are other people that have enough determination as you.


    1. NaNo is basically what keeps me going throughout the year, haha. It's a huge source of motivation since I love those deadlines and feelings of competition.

  8. I can't believe you wrote 75k in one month, Aimee! I only wrote 50k, but it was the first time I did it, and I wrote in 18 days, so I'm pretty happy. I didn't think I could do it with my busy school schedule, but I was able to make the time somehow. And it was most certainly with dedication and deadlines. I understand that vicious cycle, and I definitely think that me facing that same vicious cycle with tests and quizzes almost everyday in school helped me a lot with pushing through NaNo. And yes, writing buddies are the best. I had an AH-MAZING cabin with writing buddies that were always there to encourage me, word war with me and talk about spiders the size of dinner plates with me.

    1. I can't really believe it either...it just kinda happened, and I didn't expect to make it but I did. 50k is a LOT, too! *throws confetti at you*

  9. Holy crap. 75K? WOMAN, YOU MUST BE A SUPERHUMAN OF SOME SORT. *applauds* I do love the advice you have here, especially the one about taking care of yourself and remember that food and sleep do exist, aha.

    Nice post, hun <33


hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.