Since 2006, I have embarked upon a quest of sheer terror, armed only with my wits, a healthy dose of panic and writing implements. Yes, dear readers, I am a NaNoWriMo veteran. Every November, I buckle down to attempt a 50,000 word story within 30 days for no prize other than the satisfaction of knowing that I wrote a novel. Success eluded me for quite some time, before I actually managed to finish a story last year.
Normally, I would be happy to allow myself a full 365 days to bask in that glory. But if the world’s ending this year, I might as well push myself to the furthest reaches of sanity and do NaNo not once, but twice.
Camp NaNoWriMo is tailored to those people who are unable, for one reason or another, to devote November to writing. It’s set over the course of two months, July and August, and you’re free to pick either to be your writing month. I’d initially planned to participate in July, but real life just doesn’t like it when I try to let the writing take over. August and its myriad opportunities for inspiration is definitely going to be a fun time to try this new project out.
And what a project it’s going to be–I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared for NaNo as I am this year. After I decided in June that I would participate, I’ve been planning out my approach.
In the interest of taking “the road less traveled” so to speak, I’m choosing to write my NaNovel out in a notebook, specifically a beautiful Moleskine. I’ve been saving it for a year now, and I like the premise I came up with for Camp NaNo enough to use it for this purpose. My writing implements betray my love of colours–I like writing out notes and changes in different colours to make revisions easier. Sticky notes are a staple of my writing process as well, and I’m madly in love with the London stickies that I found last week at Chapters. This year, I’m using coloured flags to mark off parts of the story that I might want to rewrite after NaNo/important events in the story. And of course, a highlighter to help me identify character traits as I write, for continuity purposes.
But as much as stickies, pens and pretty notebooks can support one while writing, inspiration and determination play key roles in getting one through the 30 days of mad writing. I have a few things I stick on my desk/in my notebook to remind me why I love writing during those difficult days. My favourite is a handwritten note on the back of a NaNo sticker from Chris Baty himself. When Chris tells you to do something, you march back and–okay, let’s be real. You scowl, shuffle reluctantly back to the notebook or laptop and push those words out into the world with very little confidence.
Six years of NaNo hasn’t shown me that it gets easier with time. In fact, it gets even harder sometimes (“Oh dear God, why did I do this to myself AGAIN?!”). But there’s no easy way to write a novel, and there’s no easy way to be a writer. NaNoWriMo might be challenging, but it’s also ridiculously fun, and that’s what writing should be.