Caffeine buzz like a fever, hands flying over the keyboard as if controlled by an outside force, you finally get rolling halfway through your second hour in the bookstore cafe. Your word count is finally piling up, after hours of watching it slowly tick up one word after another. Things are finally starting to click. This is the National Novel Writing Month flow, the anticipated fury of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Each November that I participate, I know it will be a headache-enducing, coffee-guzzling, free-falling dive into a brave new world of plot. Sometimes, I have a strict outline–I know how things begin, what needs to happen in the middle, and how everything will end. Other times, I have a handful of characters I want to write about and find that they grow and evolve and interact almost on their own, with very little direction from me personally. Each time is incredibly rewarding, and I come out feeling like I’ve learned something about myself as a writer and an artist that I might not have learned otherwise.
Last November, I did not participate. I had a full-time job, a photo lab that kept me in the darkroom for an extra ten hours outside of class time, and was struggling with balancing my personal problems with my professional life–adding a 50,000 words on top of it all was simply a commitment I couldn’t make. Since then, life has calmed down. I still have classes that require a lot of my time, but I quit my job which freed up a massive chunk of my schedule. Summer is usually more laid back, my schedule not quite as full, and not nearly as many challenges to meet head-on. As someone who thrives on challenge, this isn’t always a wonderful thing–I love an assignment, something to creatively think around and find my way through. When I heard about Camp NaNoWriMo, I knew I had to sign up. It’s still 50,000 words in 30 days, but it’s in July.
So what will I be writing about? I have no idea. But I’ve got six days to figure out my genre before Cabin Assignments are made–a cute little bit of camp kitsch to pair up with like-minded writers for inspiration and encouragement. With absolutely no ideas going in, is this madness? Not at all! Some of the most exciting writing experiences have started with nothing at all. At the end of the day, this is about having fun, stretching creative muscles, and applying yourself to something new and different. It’s an excuse to listen to some new (or old favourite) music, brew up your favourite refreshments, and fall in love with a fresh project.