Spring is on the way. Here in Texas, that means the weather is ping-ponging back and forth from 70 and sunny to 40 and stormy on a semi-daily basis. Should I wear basketball shorts and a T-shirt when I go out or would it be better to make it a sweater and a heavy coat? I don’t know. It’s impossible to tell.
But more importantly for us writers, the impending arrival of spring also heralds the impending arrival of the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo. What is Camp NaNoWriMo, you may ask? Well, before I try to explain it to you, I’d better tell you what NaNoWriMo is.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a bit inaccurately named, since people from all over the world take part in the event every year. NaNoWriMo takes place in November, and the idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month, which comes to roughly 1,667 words per day (in a perfect world where people stay on track with such things). Participants use the website to keep track of their word count and post to forums about their experiences. The event is hosted by a nonprofit organization called the Office of Letters and Light, and participants are encouraged to collect money from sponsors to donate to the organization’s literacy programs.
Camp NaNoWriMo is a lite version of this that offers more flexibility with word count and medium. Participants may set a lower word count goal for themselves (or higher, as the case may be) or write something in a different genre, such as a short story collection or a set of poems…or a film script.
Last April, I used Camp NaNoWriMo to complete my fourth feature film script, entitled Adrian Price Must Die. This year, I’m going to be writing another script, probably a television script this time, although my ideas aren’t really set in stone.
I strongly recommend all you writers out there to consider taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a great excuse to get started on (and hopefully finish) that certain project that you’ve always wanted to do, and the fact that so many people take part in it together means that you’ve got a support group that spans the whole Internet.
As I’ve said, Camp NaNoWriMo is based on word count. So for anyone who wants to write a script, here’s a rough idea of where you should set your word count goal. This will vary from project to project, but that’s OK because you can change your goal any time you want.
- 10,000 words: 60 pages (the correct length for a 45-minute television drama)
- 15,000 words: 90 pages (a short feature-length script)
- 20,000 words: 120 pages (a long feature-length script)
- 30,000 words: 180 pages (a feature-length script by James Cameron)
In the meantime, start thinking about what idea you’d like to pursue. Some people like to outline extensively before they begin writing on April 1st. I don’t always do this, but I do find it helpful to at least have a clear idea of what you want to write about and have some specific scenes and plot points in mind. The more you figure this stuff out beforehand, the less time you’ll have to spend worrying about it in April and the more time you can spend writing!
Even if you’ve never taken on a project of this magnitude, let alone completed it in one month, Camp NaNoWriMo can still be a good thing for you to pursue. This is because the idea isn’t so much to write a perfect project as it is to simply complete a first draft that you can revise later on. Even completing a first draft can be a difficult step to take, but imagine how accomplished you’ll feel once you’re through!
I hope to see all of you writing alongside me this coming April. If you want to add me as a friend, my username is sjh1. Now let’s get those ideas flowing!