Writing Wednesday: Camp NaNoWriMo Tips

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! It’s the first week of April, which means Camp NaNoWriMo just kicked off.

There are two main differences between regular and Camp Nano. First, instead of the standard 50,000 word-novel, you set your own goals. This is great if 50,000 words is too daunting, or on the other end of the spectrum, you want to push yourself even further. It also means you can take on different kinds of projects: short story collections, poetry, screenplays. Many Wrimos like to use Camp to edit existing drafts. Second, you can choose to be sorted into “cabins” of 12 writers–mini-groups to cheer each other on. You can choose to be sorted by genre, age, word count goal, etc, or you can make your own cabin if you have 11 friends with you (alternately, you can choose not to be placed in a cabin all).

Winning the official National Novel Writing Month in November, alas, remains on my writing bucket list.  I attempted it in November 2014 with the first draft of my current WIP, but gave up after 25,000 words to focus on school. I have, however, won Camp Nano twice. The first time was July 2014 for the full Nano goal of 50,000 words–my first official completed novel!! The second time, in April 2015, I added another 25,000 words to my WIP. I actually didn’t finish the novel there–I hit my goal and then stopped, focused on school, and finally wrapped up my first draft after about two more weeks in June.

I’m not participating this session, because I want to take more time to edit my WIP. (Side note: before I realized it was April, my original planned post for this week was “Recalibrating Your Novel.” Reworking for Draft 3 is looking brutal, and I haven’t even started writing yet. But more on that next week.) Camp Nano was so helpful in making me commit more fully to my writing, though, so I am very excited for all participating! And with that, here are some tips to get you through the rest of the month:


1. Don’t worry about the quality!

Like a lot of my writing peers, I used to struggle a lot with motivation whenever first drafts inevitably turn out all kinds of awful. NaNoWriMo is great because it really forces you to take the time out of your day to write and say “fuck it–this sucks, but I have to write on!” And that’s ok! Even the worst first draft (a staggering title) is much easier to edit into something polished and beautiful than the dreaded blank page.

2. Write as soon as possible. 

If you’re a type-A personality like me, your natural impulse might be to write your quota of the day after finishing all your actual shit. I’ve found that it’s much more helpful to get the writing out of the way first. As soon as you get home from work, school, etc., open up your Word doc and just keep writing till you hit your goal. That way you won’t be able to put it off, and it’ll go by much faster and seem much easier, as you won’t be exhausted. Also, learning to set time for your writing is a really important skill you need to learn.

3. Participate in your cabins! 

My July group was great! Everyone was very supportive and we had lively conversations. April was much more of a drag, with hardly anyone saying anything. Talk to your cabin mates! Take advantage of the Camp setting. It’s fun and having other writers to cheer you on to meet your goal will be a huge motivator. You might even make some new writing friends or critique partners! By incredible chance, one woman was in both Camp sessions with me and we ended up exchanging emails!

Good luck to everyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo 2016! What are your goals? Any tips for Wrimos? 


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