Home After a Month at Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp-NaNoWriMo-2013-Winner-Campfire-Circle-BadgeApril has come to a close, and with it my month at Camp NaNoWriMo. This was my first time at the virtual camp, and it was an exciting adventure. My cabin buddies were writers from the U.S. and England interested in similar genres, youth or juvenile fiction.  We had already set our personal goals for the month; mine was to write a 10,000-word short story. So, on April 1, with laptop open and junk food at the ready, I went to camp.

In the first days at camp, I found myself procrastinating. I had no idea what my story would be about. Most days I chose to explore the campground instead of writing. I spent time at the camp store; day dreamed beside deep blue pools; turned my imagination loose in dark, echoing caverns; tested my stamina on the endless winding trails; chatted with other campers in the camp forums. Nights, when I should have been writing under the stars, I was singing by the campfire, roasting marshmallows, and telling scary stories about the Block Ness monster (scary stories about writer’s block).

After two weeks of this rowdy camp behavior, I realized that there was a story waiting to get out. A story for my grand nephew’s fourth birthday: “Snow Buster”. It was time to get down to business. I needed to do my part. You see, writing is sort of like using the Ouija Board. You put your hands on the keyboard, start to type, and before you know it, the story tells itself. But you have to put your hands on the keyboard and start typing. So, I traded the glow of firelight for the glow of my laptop keyboard. Over the next few days, a 10,240 word story emerged, and the word Winner! appeared on my camp avatar.

What did I learn from my month at camp? I learned that when you write fast (no editing) and write without fear (no one else has to ever read it) a story will finally rise from the tangle of words and nonsense.