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In praise of the writing bootcamp by Leslie Dow

Bootcamp starts Monday, and I am going to participate, write at least 1,667 words a day and not quit until midnight on April 30.

Sounds like a plan, eh? Not all that complex and easy to achieve. And yet…it has been more than five years since I have completed a boot camp. Online writing Bootcamps were all the rage a few years back. Pretty much every online community had them, and I participated in several. The grandaddy of them is, of course, NaNoWriMo® which originated the online version a while back, but the concept of a bunch of writers coming together and writing in a sort of parallel play fashion with a dash of competition tossed in is not new. After all, the writers of the famous Algonquin Round Table were in a sense participating in an ongoing boot camp– granted one that lasted ten years, had truly gifted authors as members, and a metric &&**-ton of booze, but still.

Algonquin Round Table notwithstanding, bootcamps are different from writing groups although they share some of the same characteristics.


Bootcamps have a defined end.

Sure, you can build friendships, and writing groups can form, but the fundamental idea is that at the end of the month the camp is over, we pack up our Coleman lanterns and copies of Scrivener and go home to write alone. But for that brief, shining moment, er month, we write together working toward individual goals with a shared purpose.

**Cue Kumbaya**


Bootcamps have a goal-oriented peer pressure

When the first NaNoWriMo® launched way back in 1999 the self-proclaimed goal was to “make some noise.”  Which, OK, I guess that sort of works, as Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo®  said, in a “90s band sort of way”. But our bootcamps have a higher purpose to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. Most writer’s groups want all the members to finish, but they don’t have the sort of peer pressure that drives writers to write a book in 30 days. That pressure is closer to the kind that makes all the three-year-olds in a Day Care potty trained in the same month. See, if they can do it, you can, too.


Bootcamps embrace competition

Sure there are Participation Trophies in boot camp. But, the point is to WIN. And let’s face it while we all pull together and want to help our fellow campers, at the end of the day if you write the words you planned and if you finish the book you are a winner. And one of the things that makes us human is competition, so writing in boot camp is one of the most human things we can do. How’s that for convoluted logic?

Benchly, pour me a martini.


All in all, sometimes it helps to devote focus to something that you know you should be doing, but you just do not seem to have the time for. I am a writer. I write for my day job, I read constantly, and I love to write. Yet, I seem not to be able actually to sit down and BICHOK (Butt in Chair Hands on Keyboard) regularly. I am a perfect candidate for Bootcamp.

Are you a slacker-writer? Are you someone who does not write consistently? Are you someone who writes every day like a damn metronome? All of you are welcome in boot camp. We may short sheet Ms. Metronome, but hey, we’ll also make sure she writes.


Check it out; you have nothing to lose but your lack of a completed book.

Leslie is: The site director and owner of where she sits behind the curtain most days turning interweb knobs and twisting network di...