Summer Camp Writing Challenge

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Ah, nothing says summer better than sweaty armpits and chafed inner thighs.

And here in Massachusetts, we’re in for a long stretch of hot, humid weather over the next 10 days.

If you’re crazy like me, you probably can’t wait to step outside into a swamp. But if you’re not, this might be a good time to go camping.

Camp NaNoWriMo, that is.

For anyone who is new to the challenge, as I was, it is “An idyllic writer’s retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” And it takes place during the month of July.

Unlike November’s NaNo, you get to choose the type of project you want to work on and how your progress will be calculated.

Want to write a screenplay or a poem? No problem. What about a series of short stories or a piece of non-fiction? You can do that too. You can even set up a revision project.

You also get the option to track your progress by word count, hours, minutes, lines, or pages.

No longer are you constrained to writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days because this is summer, and in the United States, July is synonymous with freedom and independence.

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I signed up for Camp and entered my project to finish a work-in-progress novel. It remains to be seen if that’s actually the piece I’m going to work on–I kind of want to write a fun murder mystery beach read (because nothing says fun quite like a murder in a beach resort town) or finish my World of Warcraft fanfiction serial. But it would be really nice to finally have this novel finished.

If you’re thinking maybe you should jump start your own prolific writing career or need a little motivation to try a new medium or genre, I encourage you to sign up too.

Another great feature of Camp is that you can choose to join a cabin of 19 other like- or maybe-not-so-like-minded writers for inspiration.

I’m planning to create a private cabin, so if you want to be bunk mates, send a request to clblacke for an invitation through the Camp NaNo message system and be sure to let me know you’re responding to this post.

Writers of all genres and mediums are welcome. You don’t need to be a mystery or young adult writer to join my cabin.

So grab your marshmallows and bug spray and meet me at Camp!

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Calling All You Writing Freaks


Halloween is by far the scariest time of the year. Not just because it is the one night when the veil between the worlds is opened allowing spirits, ghosts, and succubi to cross over into our realm or because gangs of teenagers run amuck through the streets toilet papering trees, waxing windows, and smashing pumpkins. Halloween is scary because it falls on the eve of NaNoWriMo. Yes, that dreaded month when every writer willingly surrenders himself into the depths of hell and participates in self-flagellation in the name of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

So I thought Halloween would be a great time to prepare yourself for the month to come. All you have to do is write for one hour at some point on October 31. It doesn’t matter what you write because the best part about this is that your writing can put on a costume and pretend to be whatever it wants for those 60 minutes. If it turns out to be just a character sketch, or backstory, or even a few lines of dialog, it’s okay! It’s come as you aren’t night. So don’t get all self-critical or go all hyper-editor on yourself. Just have fun! Because the next 30 days are going to be anything but.

In case you need a few suggestions to get you started, here they are: (and they’re all conveniently Halloween related)

1. Find an eerie image or a piece of haunting music to inspire you 

2. Write about what monster scared you the most as a child (or as a grown adult): vampire, Frankenstein, mummies, zombies, mad scientists, ghosts, witches, etc.

3. Write about what the town children would do if Halloween was canceled because of a freak weather anomaly

4. Pick your favorite Halloween costume from childhood. What was it? Why? Now write about what kind of life you as that “person” would have lived.

5. You’re getting your fortune told at a fair when the psychic tactfully informs you that you are already dead.

6. You foolishly accept a dare to spend the night in a cemetery/haunted house/abandoned prison/insane asylum/whatever.

7. You arrive at your friend’s Halloween party when one of the guests turns up dead.



Come on guys, it’s just one hour. Let go of your old habits and have fun with this. You never know where your next great idea will come from.

Enter this Halloween challenge…if you dare! Muwahahahaha.