It’s summertime, and the kiddies are all off at camp. Just think how much fun they’re having: roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, sharing giggled secrets by the glow of a flashlight in the musty dark of a sleeping bag. Wouldn’t it be great to be a kid again and join in the fun? Aw, but not for you. You’re a responsible grownup, stuck responsibly at your desk: writing for a living, grinding the grist, paying the bills.
But, what if you could head off to summer camp right there at your computer? Would you sign up? Who wouldn’t?! And if there’s a pang of guilt when you consider sneaking a little fun into your workday, think of it as an investment in your career. What better way to spark your imagination and hone those creative writing techniques than to spend some quality time with your writing peeps? As Sir John Lubbick once wrote in The Pleasures of Life, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” And he was right, even if that summer day is a virtual one.
Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!
The Berkley Office of Letters and Light, sponsor of the well-known National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, has put together a charming and quirky online summer camp just for writers, with all the atmosphere of a real summer camp, minus the mosquitoes, of course. Camp NaNoWriMo is, as the sign-in page states, a writer’s retreat “smack dab in the middle of your crazy life.” Because of the wild success of NaNoWriMo, which is held in November, its founders decided to start a session when writers’ schedules weren’t crammed with holiday activities. And what better format for a summer writers’ program than summer camp?
Like its progenitor, Camp NaNoWriMo is free to join and features a finish-a-novel-in-30-days challenge. In the name of summer fun, however, there are other camp-themed activities as well. Campers can sign up for a word-count tracking tool, receive encouraging emails and even join a virtual cabin based on their age, writing genre and word-count goal. They can also join the on-line forum and share camp songs, talk about their cabin mates and discuss the best writing-motivation techniques. There’s even a camp store stocked with t-shirts, mugs and camp patches.
It’s Not Too Late!
The camp has two sessions: one started April 1, the other starts today, July 1. So don’t miss the fun. Sign up! No time today? Don’t despair; you can still join the party. Writers can sign up for the July session anytime throughout the month. There is one caveat, however: If you want to take part in the word-count challenge, you won’t be allowed to alter your goal after July 25 or once the award presentations begin.
Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.