My first time trying NaNoWriMo last year was a complete failure.
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is held every November. The idea is that you write a 50,000-word novel in the space of one month. An ambitious, yet exciting, prospect, to be sure!
So last November I tried it for the first time. My grand total for the month was a dismal 1,100 words. Ouch.
But then I happened to discover, midway through June this summer, that there is something called Camp NaNoWriMo which takes place every April and July. During the Camp version of NaNoWriMo, you get to choose the length of your book, and you also have the opportunity to write anything. It can be fiction or nonfiction, novel or story, screenplay or poetry… you get to choose. And I thought to myself, this is a little more up my alley. So I signed up for July’s Camp NaNo.
Since I had failed so spectacularly back in November, I decided to keep things simple. Several people have asked me, since I started freelancing full-time, about whether I’m planning to write a book. I kept laughing the idea off, but when I realized there was a Camp NaNoWriMo, and was thinking about what to write about, I realized that there is so much I have learned about over the past few months which would be really helpful for new freelancers or business owners. And how better to convey that than in an e-book?
So that’s how I found myself, in the week leading up to July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, planning out a 15,000-word e-book on the business of writing and editing.
Updated to add: you can now read The Business of Writing & Editing!
As it happened, for the first week of July, business slowed down. So I figured that it was the perfect time to get some writing done!
I wrote more than 5,000 words the first day, I was just so excited about Camp NaNo. For the next week or so, I wrote between 500 and 3,000 words each day (which actually didn’t take up too much of my day), and I completed the second draft of the book in its entirety by day 10 at 17,112 words. I surpassed my original 15,000-word goal in one-third of the time I had expected!
The stars aligned perfectly, too: just around the same time as I completed the second draft and passed it on to Mr Science for a first review / edit, business picked up again. How very convenient.
My first-ever experience with Camp NaNoWriMo has taught me the following:
1) Timing is crucial to creativity.
If it hadn’t been for a slow time in my business, I doubt I would have written the book quite so quickly. When you have your own business or you’re a freelancer, it’s a good idea to have a plan for the slow times so that you can at least still be productive even if you don’t have a ton of work coming in. Writing a book on your industry is kind of perfect for that!
2) Sometimes you need to broaden the rules.
The original rules of the regular NaNoWriMo (a 50,000-word novel in 30 days) was a little too overwhelming and restricting for me. Being able to choose my own, much more manageable word count, and a genre which appealed to me, made this Camp version of NaNoWriMo go that much more smoothly.
Tune into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast to find out a real-life experience of Camp NaNoWriMo:
3) Having a daily goal can make a huge difference.
I loved being able to see my little graph go up every day. Knowing that I was being held accountable by my profile on the Camp NaNo website was excellent motivation for me to keep working and keep writing to reach (and surpass!) my goals.
Writing a book related to your industry is a great way to manage slow times as a freelancer #freelancetips
4) Being practical about what you can really do is very important.
Let’s be honest: a 50,000-word novel in one month isn’t very realistic for me. However, a 17,000-word book on business was exactly what I wanted to write about this month, so it was perfect! Knowing that I needed to write about 500 words / day made the project much less daunting, and I think that was a big part of the reason for how I was able to complete the book within the first 10 days.
5) Plan and strategize to set yourself up for success.
Before July even began, I mapped out my book. I wrote down some broad ideas I had for it, and the voice, tone, and style I wanted to go for, and I even wrote out the various chapters I wanted to write and some appendices to attach at the end of the book. When July started, all I had to do was write. Knowing exactly what I would be writing made it so much easier and more manageable for me to successfully complete.
I hope to spend the next six months or so writing a few more books on the subject of freelancing and owning your own writing / editing business during any down-time that comes up, and then publishing them at the same time next year. Hopefully all goes well! But this July’s Camp NaNoWriMo has certainly been a wonderful inspiration for me to share my knowledge with others and write practical resources and books on the subject. I’m excited to see the direction it takes.
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo? Have you written a book (print or e-version) before? What have been your experiences? Is it something you haven’t done yet but would like to do someday? Share in the comments section below!