In Support of Camp NaNo

I love NaNoWriMo. Considering how my entire Autumn is pretty much consumed by ML life, I don’t think I need to prove my devotion. I’ll always love NaNo, and I can’t see myself ever taking a break from it, but I’ve done this for eleven years now. To be honest, it’s become…easy.

2013: The year NaNo became easy.

2013: The year NaNo became easy.

I know many of you have struggled for years and have yet to get the ol’ Purple Bar. I know there’s also a minority of you who laugh at my measly 50-75k counts. I don’t mean to rile anyone in these groups when I say NaNo is easy, but I think it speaks to a flaw in the system:

Writing is not One-Size-Fits-All.

Fifty thousand isn’t a logical goal for many people. It’s probably not reasonable for most people. And I get it; NaNo is like a marathon. You have the average people who are just trying to finish and are happy to just cross that line. Some make it, and some don’t—although marathon runners are way more likely to finish than WriMos (sorry). And then you have the people who scoff at 26.2 miles, so they have to make their own motivation and set time goals most people think are insane. Analogous WriMos, you know who you are (50k days? Seriously?)

Oh, and then you have the people who are like, “Twenty-six miles? Have every single one of you gone insane? I don’t drive twenty-six miles in a morning; I’m certainly not running that,and don’t even bother to try.

Does this mean every marathon should come with different start and end points for people who struggle to finish, and clocks should be optional but not for the speedy people, they only get to win if they run it in under three hours, and hell, those of us lard-butts out there can totally get rascals to ride but make sure they’re equipped with iPads because Saturday is my Netflix binge day? Of course not. A marathon is 26.2 miles whether you like it or not.

Did someone say 'marathon'?

Did someone say ‘marathon’?

The point I’m trying to make (both poorly and redundantly) is 50,000 words is only a legitimate challenge for a few people. The rest of us have to make our own goals in order to make November meaningful. Thanks to the saved stats on the NaNo site, I can now make it a goal to be my previous year’s completion date. I’m sure there will come a time when I can no longer shave off days, but I’ll always be able to squeak out a couple more words than last year. And many of you get to around November 26th and say, “Umm, my goal is now 25,000 words,” which I respect and wholeheartedly support. You’re not a winner in the strictest sense, but you keep writing and you finish with 22,438 words and it’s not even your personal goal but whatevs, that’s 22,438 more words than you had in October.

And for all of us who don’t take 50k seriously, there is a solution:


I’m writing on my tablet, that’s sort of like roughing it.

Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t a marathon race, it’s a fitness boot camp. Which sounds really cheesy (at least in my brain), but it’s all about YOU. YOU decide what you want out of it, YOU set your goal, YOU stick to it, YOU get a Winner’s ribbon for doing what YOU said you would.

Were you only able to write 10,000 words in November before the enormity of 50k squashed you, but you really think you could do 15k because 500 words per day is easy? You get that 15k ribbon.

Does your brain say WRITE WRITE WRITE but your heart say EDIT EDIT EDIT? You get that edit ribbon.

Is your Documents folder a graveyard of unfinished stories that just need a month to hunker down and write a couple climaxes? You get that completed manuscript ribbon.

Do you just hate how easy it is for us novel writers to shove together 50,000 words while you’re sitting there with your rhyming dictionary trying to hammer out some iambic pentameter?

You can still get a
haiku omnibus ribbon
You poetic beast.

(Get it? It’s a haiku.)

And sure, maybe you have to fudge data a bit to make it work—this year my goal is to devote 60 hours to writing, so I set my goal at 60,000 words and will have to do some conversion to stay true to it—but that’s not the point. The point is write.

Or something. Pep talks aren’t really my thing.



Oh, and there’s one generic ribbon for everyone who completes. But wouldn’t it be super fun-fun if there was a haiku omnibus ribbon?


Think you can write better editorials than me? I don’t doubt it. Contact lapixystix via NaNo mail if you’re interested in blogging for us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *