Camp NaNoWriMo Tips

For those unfamiliar, Camp NaNoWriMo is the summer version of NaNoWriMo, which happens in November for National Novel Writing Month. This is a month where writer’s pledge to write 50,000 words in one month. What a writer works on to get those words is entirely up to them. It could be a novel, a series of writing posts, or an addition to a work in progress. The most important take away is: to write–with a community of other writers.

In the past, I have participated in NaNoWriMo and have stopped writing shortly before Thanksgiving. I had a laundry list of reasons as to why I couldn’t complete the challenge and would find myself discouraged by all the writer’s who were reaching their goals.

This year–four years later–I decided to participate for the month of July. The motivation started as a means to complete my second book first draft. 50 to 60k was about all I had left to write to finish the draft. But as the month started and I dived into the community, I realized there were many factors that were different this time around.

  1. I found my voice
    1. I had no idea who I was as a person when I tried prior and definitely didn’t know who I was as a writer. Learning who I was has helped significantly.
    2. I don’t think you need to know everything, but I think it’s important to figure out the general voice of your writing before you begin.
  2. 50k is just a number. 
    1. I could set my OWN goal.
    2. Many writers WERE setting their own goals. Whether higher or lower, they were setting a goal for their month ahead, their work pace, and their story idea. This entire month was up to them.
  3. Twitter is a safe haven for writers
    1. Ever since getting into the writing community on Twitter, I have felt so supported. Everyone is there to bring you up and motivate you. It is very rare anyone is there to tear you down. Success for one is success for all.
  4. Outlining
    1. I ALWAYS hated outlining for NaNo or in general. This left the editing of my first novel much more complicated. So I’ve learned the second time around–it works! But for me. It may not be your solution.
    2. Figure out what outlining means to you.
  5. Writing Sprints 
    1. Until this month, I had never participated seriously in a writing sprint. I didn’t understand them until I dived into it.
    2. For those unfamiliar–a writing sprint is when you set a time to write and then set a certain amount of minutes to write for.
    3. By setting 10, 20, 30 minute sprints, it’s an achievable goal to shut down everything and just focus on the words coming out. Most importantly, it shuts off your self-editor. You want to get out as much as you can, then you can go back and edit.
  6. Stuck? Take Breaks.
    1. Set reasonable goals for yourself
    2. Remember to take breaks. Whether between writing sprints or setting up times to walk away.
    3. Go for a walk, read a book, take your mind off your writing and then come back to it.
    4. Check in with other writer’s and find motivation from them.
    5. Join a popular writing sprint through the #campnanowrimo tag!
  7. There are NO rules.
    1. I always felt like I had to live up to a certain expectation of a writer. I had to do this or that. If I couldn’t do something a certain way, I wouldn’t be successful. But success is subjective. It’s how you view what your success is and it isn’t compared to anyone else.
    2. Every writer is different. We’ve all experienced different things, we are all at different levels, certain things work for certain people and so on. Just because someone may have a higher word count, doesn’t mean that your words aren’t important. We all work at our own pace and our brains work differently too. I could write a crazy amount of words because I’m a fast typer, but it doesn’t mean that the words are good or will stick, whereas a lower word count could be more significant.

For those who have debated whether or not you’ve wanted to join: take it at your own pace, check out the community, and make your own decision. It’s never too late to join!

My main takeaway is the community. Writing is an isolating event–most of the time–so any reason to be able to connect to others, motivate them, and accomplish a similar goal, is inspiring to me.

So for all you campers out there, BEST OF LUCK! You’ve got this. You can do it! Some days may be harder than others, but show up every day, even if it just means your thinking about your writing in your head–that is still writing and so important. And if you’re stuck and feeling lost, come to Twitter. We are here to support you.

Chelsea Lauren

Chelsea Lauren is addicted to drinking coffee, writing in cafes, and walking the beach. A New York native, she recently moved to Melbourne, FL and found having conversations with her character’s on the beach is the perfect cure to writer’s block. To learn more about her, check out “About Me.” Her debut novel, Underneath the Whiskey, is now available on Amazon.

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