I’ve won NaNo in November nine times. This year I won Camp NaNo for the first time. About halfway through the month I found myself thinking about the differences between the two versions of NaNo and what I liked about each one. Now that I’ve won both, I thought it was time to put some of my thoughts into somewhat readable words.
50,000 vs Pick your own
50,000 words is a lot to write in one month. I’ve gotten better at it over time, but it’s still a LOT of words. It’s the number of a words a lot of professional authors aim for in the course of a writing month. Most of us have families, jobs, friends, other commitments. Getting to pick your own word count during camp lets you have complete control. It can let you set a daily writing habit, or force you to stretch your current writing commitment. However when everyone has a different word count winning can feel a bit anticlimactic. This year I wrote 15,000 words. It was a lot for me with everything else going on in my life right now, but many people in my cabin went for higher word counts which left me feeling a little insignificant.
Winner – Tie
Cabins vs Writing Buddies
During Camp you can assign yourself a random cabin, or make a cabin with friends. This year I did a random cabin assignment. During November you can link up with friends by being Writing Buddies. Meeting new people in my writing cabin was fun, but overall the motivation was low. Roughly half my cabinmates met their goals for the month, and because I didn’t know these people I wasn’t sure how to help motivate the others. Many cabin members disappeared after a few days or weeks. With Writing Buddies you can have as many as you want, while cabins are limited to 12. In cabins you see stats for yourself, as well as you entire cabin. I found it disheartening as other members of the cabin stopped writing. My cabin is only going to reach about 75% of its total goal for the month.
Winner – Regular NaNoWriMo
What to write
Unless you want to be a rebel, the rules for NaNoWriMo are clear. You must start a new novel(la) and write for 50,000 words on that project. Camp is more flexible. You can write a collection of short stories, or write a script (script frenzy no longer exists). When it comes right down to it a lot of people bend the NaNo rules. People write on existing projects but only include the words written during NaNo, write a collection of short stories, or just count the words they write on multiple projects over the course of the month. I have always done NaNo as intended. Overall I think Camp feels a bit less ridged than Nano, possibly because you are already picking your own word count. Writing 50k on an existing project you care about is really intimidating, but getting 20k on something you care about seems easier.
Winner – Camp
Overall I enjoyed Camp. I prefer NaNo in part because it has become such an important part of my yearly writing cycle. Writing 50,000 words with a group of people who have the same goal is much more motivating for me than writing however many words I want while everyone else does the same. Isn’t that just like every other month?
Have you done NaNo or Camp? Which did you prefer?