Camp NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Retreat

Many of you have heard me talk about NaNoWriMo, an event that takes place every November in which intrepid writers attempt (and, if they’re like me, sometimes fail) to write 50,000 words – aka, a short novel – between November 1 and November 30.

Well, in April and in July, NaNoWriMo takes us to CAMP. I loved camp as a kid. I went every summer in high school and then went back as a counselor for four summers after that. Camp was a place where I was free to be creative and passionate about what I was doing. So the idea of a writing “camp” (even if it’s virtual…) is right up my alley.

Unlike in November when the focus is on a brand new novel, Camp NaNoWriMo is more free-form. You can be working on revisions/edits of a previous work, or you can be working on something other than a novel.

For this session of camp, I decided to stretch a writing muscle I haven’t used in literally over a decade… I’m going to write at least one spec script. 

What’s a spec script?

“Spec is short for speculative script. It technically refers to something you wrote on speculation (sometimes referred to as “wrote on spec”) – which really means that you wrote the script for free. You hope that you might later sell it or get hired for a writing job because of it, but to have the chance of either possibility, your only choice was to write the script. After all, much in the same way an artist or photographer has a portfolio, the television writer has a collection of sample scripts that show the Hollywood community that they can in fact write for television. Unlike a spec script for movies where your skills can sell a script, a television spec script is meant to sell your skills.” (Thanks, About Careers).

When I was 19, I took a writing for television course at UCSD, and our final project was to write a spec script. I wrote one for Will & Grace called “Don’t Be A Menace in Brooklyn While Drinking Your Juice From A Bottle.” It is still one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.

Now, I’m not writing these because I forsee some big career move to LA for me in the future. I’m writing them because, well, I want to see if I can. I want to see what it feels like to stretch my TV script writing muscles again, and it’s fun to do that by playing inside the heads of characters you already know that came from someone else. It’s a very different type of challenge than writing your own original work, and I’m up for the exercise.

The current catch is that I’m not really sure which shows I want to write for! I’m thinking of attempting a comedy and a drama, but again, not sure which shows yet. I’m halfway tempted to write what I want one of the Gilmore Girls revival episodes to be, but a 90-minute mini-series episode is way bigger than a standard drama or comedy script.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on my progress in April! And if you’re looking for a cabin buddy, I’m ThatColette over there.

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