I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November and . . . not sure “loved” is the right word . . . Let’s just say I got caught up in the crazy, can-do spirit of it all and learned I can crank out the words if you give me a goal, encouragement, nifty progress charts and coffee — lots and lots of coffee.

This month, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo with the aim of whipping my first novel, The Leaving Year, into shape for a final (I really mean it this time) round of submissions. I’m about 100 pages into a tune-up of my protagonist’s character arc, which, according to one agent, slipped around too much.

So far so good. I’m enjoying the Camp, which organizers bill as “an idyllic writers retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

It’s more flexible and less intense than NaNoWriMo:  The November main event gives you one goal — a 50,000-word novel – while the camp allows you to set any bar (words, hours, pages, even lines) on any writing project.

And, just like NaNoWriMo, you get a lot of on-line goodies, including:

  • nifty progress charts
  • virtual write-ins
  • writing advice
  • writing forums
  • prompts and exercises
  • pep talks from published authors

The Camp theme is fun. Participants join virtual cabins with 19 like-minded others. Mine is a “mixed” cabin of writers working on drafting and revision. With project names like “Night of the Sasquatch,” “Ghosts” and “Becoming Dawn,” I know I’m in creative company. And best of all, nobody snores!

I should add that everything NaNo is FREE, but you are asked to contribute to the cause. Here’s a bit more about their mission and programs from the website:

National Novel Writing Month . . . believes your story matters. We know that writing makes the world a more creative, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program, we work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity. And, we can’t do it without writers like you.

If you want to try Camp NaNo, but missed out this month, you can sign up for the second camp in July. By then, the sun and mosquitoes will be out, and you can make believe you’re doing the real thing.

So what’s your project or dream project? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.