Well, I got The Email the other day! No, not the email saying that I’ve been published. The email that says that as of March 1st, the countdown to Camp NaNoWriMo is officially kicked off.

What is Camp NaNoWriMo, you might ask? Well, Camp is a huge writer’s party that is hosted on the internet during the months of April and July. Similar to NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, in November, Camp is about encouraging authors to write the novel of their dreams while ignoring family, friends, and (occasionally) their personal hygiene.

The main difference between this event and the main one is that, to embody the spirit of camping and breezy summer days, Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t as strict as the traditional event. Rather than asking for a flat line of 50,000 words per participant, Camp invites writers to set their own writing goals for the month, whether it’s to edit a short story or engage in a 100k epic. In addition, they invite more personal interaction among the Campers, by placing them in group chat rooms known as ‘cabins’.

Is it fun? Oh, yes. Is it a little bit crazy? Definitely!

What’s coolest about the NaNoWriMo events is that you get to see so many different types of writers. There’s professionals, hobbyists, and amateurs all bundled up into one event. All of the different groups work together and offer one another help, advice, and distractions that can bolster a novelist’s spirits during the marathon. And yet, distinctions aren’t that important when it comes to these events, or at least, not the ones you would think. As a matter of fact, one of the major distinctions between writers is whether or not they’re a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’, rather than what their skill level is.

Pantsers are writers who write by the ‘seat of their pants’. They do little to no prep work before the event and are all about the magic of seeing where their imaginations lead them. That said, pantsers are notorious for not finishing their stories or, having finished, never editing them into something that can be seen in the light of day. The ones who polish their stories to completion, however, have an organic and individualistic story that draws the reader along on a magical ride.

Plotters on the other hand, are those writers who go into the story with a battle plan. They have an outline, character sheets, even the individual scenes down to a science. They often finish their stories and find them, if not a breeze, at least substantially easier to edit. On the flipside, their stories can end up with a lot of needless information that they don’t want to ‘waste’. Worse still, they can find it very hard to break away from the outline when they need to and miss a lot of cool things that the story could’ve taught them.

In between these two groups is a developing group known as ‘plantsers’. These are writers who like to plan a little and pants a little and see where they are. This group isn’t as favored by new writers and for good reason! Plantsing is neither jumping in headfirst or keeping your feet on the ground, but some of both. It has the advantage (and disadvantage) of being fine-tuned to the individual and is a process that usually grows after hours upon hours of writing and completing stories.

What’s great about all of these groups though, is that they all want to write stories and, for a month, walk in an author’s shoes. No matter what your skill level, day job, or ideals, the people who participate in the act of writing are acknowledging that words matter and that they have something to say.

Writing is what brings us all together, whether it’s during Camp NaNoWriMo, through the #writechain, or because of Write One, Sub One. So, if there’s anything that I would want to tell those who are participating in the April madness that is Camp, it’s this:

We’re all going through the same thing, so speak out when you hit troubled waters and let someone help you!

Believe in the process and write.

Write for your dreams and your characters and for all of the things that you have to say.

You’ll make it.

I believe in you.

I don’t know yet whether I’ll be officially participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this next month, but I’ll be cheering on all of those who are.