What is this thing, timing?
Really these lessons aren’t new. I follow them most of the year. But then the looming holidays make November almost the worst month to hold a worldwide writing challenge. The only month that might be worse is February, but unless you are really caught up in groundhog day / candlemas or have delusions that Valentines will cure your romantic woes, the second month with thenty-eight days isn’t too bad. Here in the northern hemisphere in February, it is the depths of winter and pounding away at a keyboard during long winter nights is pretty good.
But you can timeshift your challenge! Camp NaNo answers for challenges two other times a year. You can commit to the novel in thirty days, or some other challenge. There’s a wider list of challenges. I’d participated once earlier this year. I commited to a major rewrite of a 12k story to clean it up for publication, and it almost doubled in length when I filled in with more character balance. (alas, major family illness and shortage of 2nd opinions meant I lost momentuum and I didn’t find a pub or haven’t self-pubbed yet)
Now if a mass of personal friends participating or hometown pride helps keep you motivated, the NaNo in November is better, much better.
Also coupons and offers are much better in November than for Camp NaNo, probably because of the higher visibility. The Autocrit automated editing service is offering a sweepstakes for their service during NaNo this year, Createspace used to have discounts on paperback copies if you pubbed through them, when they existed autonomously. There’s bunches of tools and offers, only slightly better for people who succeeded. (note: I’m listing these as a NaNo veteran, not from some kind of compensation. I use only free tools these days as my wallet is empty) But the benefits of the Camps will probably keep growing, and the offers from November have dropped. If prizes and discounts matter, participate in November.
If a few extre vacation days late in the month help, Thanksgiving’s your time. There is much more moral support with local writing groups and writing ins in November. College ones can get a little rowdy, but in my area they are often hosted in coffeeshops or libraries. Usually a handful of published authors, sometimes name authors write pep talks in November.
In Camp NaNo, the only real organized support are virtual tents of writers which seem as successful as random roomates in college. They’re hit or miss and mine was mostly miss. The different writing goals in Camp didn’t help, because we were at different stages of writing, They were trying to just get a draft down on paper and dropped out like flies. I was revising a problematic story. November is mostly to prime the pump, to build a new habit for writing discipline. Everyone is in some stage of that cycle. Revision has little to do with that, so we were speaking different languages.
You have three opportunities for a novel sprint under the official NaNo umbrella each year. Camp NaNo is more useful if you already have a writing group, or are just writing for yourself. If you want or like the extra support and goodies for your first draft sprint, do it in November.
But just do it. So many people say they want to write, have an really good idea. But you have to sit down and write steadily. Do it alone, or find solidarity in November.