Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing event that takes place in April and July. Unlike the official NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that happens in November, this camp allows you to work on any type of creative project with a word count of your choice. The only thing you have to do is set a goal and start writing!
This is my first time ever participating in NaNoWriMo and I'm so excited! Even though this is just the camp season, I hope it gives me preparation for the real thing in seven months! Here are some things I've learned from others that you can do to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo 2021!
Outline and decide what you want to write ahead of time. In the month of April, I've decided to rewrite and revise the fourth draft of my work-in-progress (with a whopping total of 120,000 words), so this step doesn't require much plotting from my end. But, I know a lot of people who choose to start something new in April, July, and especially November! That is why this step is key to those who want to start fresh. Think about these questions before April 1st approaches, and I guarantee you that your draft will be much easier to write. What genre are you thinking of writing? What's going to be the main plot, central characters and point of view? If possible, find templates online for structuring your story, and planning out the different acts.
Set a realistic goal. We all know that in November, the aim is to reach 50,000 words in your novel (and if you didn't know that, now you do!). However, for Camp NaNoWriMo, the steering wheel is in your hands and you get to decide the direction you want to move towards, and the total distance it will take to reach your destination (in other words, you get to decide which direction your story progresses and how long it will be). So, my best advice would be to make your goal as realistic as possible. There's no way the story will be done overnight, and it shouldn't take months if you want to win NaNoWriMo. Keep the goal according to your schedule, and how much you think you'll be able to write every day. Then, come up with a reasonable word count to finish by the end of the month. Speaking of schedules...
Figure out what your daily and weekly schedule will be throughout the month. There are a lot of factors that can affect your hours of writing on certain days, however it's best to eliminate the ones you are certain about, from the total number of hours you wish to write for. Think about the certain days or weekends in April that are already looking chaotic or busy for you. Got plans? Note them down somewhere, like in a calendar. Try to fit in hours of writing before April 1st. It will make you take the challenge more seriously, and drive you to be more productive and motivated to accomplish the task for the day. You don't have to have the same routine every single day. Personally, I think switching it up a bit makes the whole event more exciting to participate in! Set aside a couple of days each week to write for an extended period of time and other days less, but make sure it corresponds to the events already reserved in your schedule!
Collect your writing necessities. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but prepare the essentials you need to do your best writing. If you have a specific type of music you listen to, make sure it's downloaded and saved on your preferred device. If you need caffeinated beverages to keep you on your toes, ensure that you have them ready when the time is right. Keep your notebook, pencil, iPad, whatever you need charged and nearby for your writing time, so you can spend as much time as you can actually writing and not searching for supplies you need at that moment.
Now those are just some principle factors that will support you during Camp NaNoWriMo, but here are some things you should know as well:
Prepare for setbacks. Sometimes, things will get in your way, and it's pointless to deny them. Life is full of hiccups and bumps in the road, and I can't tell you that the entire month will be a piece of cake. If I told my non-writing friends ahead of time that I would be writing for hours every single day for an entire month, they would probably be concerned by the supposition. And right now, I am considering every setback that could possibly occur in the next month. There's nothing I can do to change what I can't predict, but I can accept that things will happen in the weeks to come. Things that I may not like, but are only temporary. Knowing this can play a positive psychological factor in your mind, and understanding it can help you become a much better writer for NaNoWriMo.
Don't get behind. I may have joined the writing community about two months ago, but I've written for much longer than that. I know how easily it is for writers to set deadlines and goals for themselves. And I know how easily it is to completely disregard them because of procrastination or a lack of motivation. It happens to the best of us, and there's no reason to be ashamed of that. But, getting behind is the first tumble down a hill of unwanted stress and obligation. No one should have to feel obligated or forced to write for the entirety of the camp season. Our mind is the one that puts this weight on the idea of "winning" NaNoWriMo, so much so that it may feel like a responsibility rather than an enjoyable experience. If you have felt this way in the past, it means that you've done something to make you feel this way. And my best bet is that you got behind. This year, I plan to join camp in April and July, as well as NaNoWriMo in November. With that being said, my aim is to stay on top of things, and ahead. One of the best ways to avoid getting behind is being up to speed with everything that could cause you stress in the future. If you know that you spend a lot of time outlining, make sure to plot ahead of time, so you could get as much done as possible in the first week, and go easy as the next weeks roll around. If you don't spend a lot of time outlining, don't leave everything to the last minute either. A good time to start is now, after you're done reading this.
Be open to rethinking your goal. I think we've all experienced a time where we raised our expectations too high and were met with disappointment when passing the finish line with an unreachable target. Well, what we may think we can realistically achieve at the beginning of the month may not be as realistic days or weeks later. That's simply because of life. Things get in the way. People get in the way. Problems arise, and require more attention than we all realize. It isn't in your control, and when that understanding hits you in the middle of the month, it's okay to reevaluate your former goals to ones that are realistic at that point of time. Things change as we move forward, and we can't predict where our lives will be in ten years, or even an hour from now. It's better to change your goal to something more reasonable for you in your situation than to feel stressed out for the remainder of camp because of how behind you got from your initial target. Be sympathetic to yourself, and allow yourself to accommodate to changes that happen when you least expect it. Only then can we accommodate to life as we all know it.
What are your plans for Camp NaNoWriMo 2021?
Do you plan on joining this season? If so, what is you goal? I'd love to hear it in the comments! I wish you all the best of luck with your future endeavours! See you in the next post <3