July 03, 2015

Summer Writing Challenge by Steph Beth Nickel

This is Day 3 at Camp NaNoWriMo. By the end of the day, it is my goal to have written 6,600 words, 1,320 in my novel. I hope to achieve my goal writing only Monday through Friday each week. If I get extra done on the weekend . . . BONUS!

Most of you are likely familiar with the original NaNoWriMo challenge that takes place each November. For those of you who are not, here are the official National Novel Writing Month rules, taken from the NaNoWriMo website:

  • Write one 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people's works). While this is no longer a hard-and-fast rule, it is still very strongly recommended, ESPECIALLY for first timers. 
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you're writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30. 
“Impossible!” you say? I assure you, many people have "won" this challenge.

But if you’re like me and prefer more flexible criteria, you may be interested in signing up for Camp NaNo.

In April and July, campers set their own goal, from 10,000 words and up. As an added bonus, the word count doesn’t have to be from a single project. (To verify your word count, however, you have to copy and paste a single file into the appropriate box on the Camp NaNo website.)

I have a blast watching the arrow get closer and closer to the bull’s eye on my personal page. There is also a bar graph that shows how many words I must write each day to achieve my goal. It is my goal to keep the bar above the line that shows the minimum required.

There is also a second graph on my page. Although participation is optional, what fun is camp without a dozen or so cabin mates? Participants can allow the administrators to assign them to a cabin or they can reserve a private cabin and invite up to 11 of their friends to join them. (This is my first time hosting a cabin. Hey, I don't have to be neat or even keep snacks on hand. Score!) The private bulletin board allows you to have discussions among yourselves that are not visible to campers not in your cabin.

You can encourage one another, share your victories and setbacks, challenge one another to writing sprints to up your word count—and if you’re so inclined, you can even sit around a virtual fire together and enjoy virtual s’mores.

I’ve tried to find out if you can sign up after Camp NaNoWriMo begins, but I couldn’t track down the answer before posting. If you’re interested, there’s still plenty of time this month to set and achieve your writing goal. Pop on over and check it out.

Hopefully I will gain enough momentum to continue after July draws to a close and actually complete my first publishable novel.

What does your summer writing challenge look like?


  1. Anonymous5:50 am GMT-7

    How fun! Hosting a 'cabin' too! I hadn't heard of this challenge. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!

  2. I LOVE nanowrimo in the fall and have participated for the past five or so. I considered doing Camp nanowrimo this summer but knew my daughter was having a baby and I might not be able to commit to writing every day. I usually do a lot of writing int eh summer anyway ... Thanks for sharing Steph!

  3. This sounds like an interesting & fun challenge, I could see myself connecting with one of these intense projects. This summer has a lot of busyness for me-- I know excuses are easy to come by. Thanks for posting this. Good luck with it!

  4. Not sure about the virtual s'mores. So close, but yet so far - sort of like my own novel progression. Maybe I will got to camp with you next year if they don't boot you out for noise infractions. Can't wait to hear about your novel, Steph!

  5. A great motivator and challenge for next year, perhaps? Thanks.

  6. Sorry, Steph, but I won't be joining you on this. We moved at the end of June, so I am still unboxing. Thanks for sharing your method, however, and I hope your project is going well.

  7. Gosh, I really should do that NaNoWriMo once and for all--no excuses about no time. Thanks for the reminder Steph!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.