With July here, another session of Camp NaNoWriMo has started. Normally I don’t bother with NaNoWriMo anymore; I find setting word count goals runs counter to how I prefer to work. But this month, I’m using Camp NaNo to explore some new writing projects I’ve been putting off in favor of making progress on established stories.
For me, NaNoWriMo is a good excuse to explore plots and scenarios that I’ve never written about before but would like to try. It’s an exercise in challenging myself to try something new and push my comfort boundaries. Whether the work of the coming month is something I decide to share with others for feedback or ends up on the shelf, I believe pushing your boundaries is an important part of becoming a better writer.
Some people think that pushing boundaries has to be a scary thing. That it requires exploring the dark recesses of topics that put you off. But that’s not necessary. Pushing boundaries can include tackling the intimidating prospect of trying to write in the tone and style of a storyteller you deeply admire. It could be an attempt to rewrite a favorite story or getting into the head of a character who is your exact opposite in personality and worldview. It doesn’t matter how you challenge yourself, just as long as you do.
Whether you join Camp NaNoWriMo or not, I hope you take part of this summer to challenge yourself. Tackle a plot or character that has been lurking in the back of your mind but which you haven’t had the courage to take on in the past. Delve into the unfamiliar. Set aside time to work on that project that you’ve deemed too big or too hard and start chipping away at it. Make this a summer of growth and exploration.