writing in a notebook

With Camp Nanowrimo (Camp National Novel Writing Month) underway, I thought I would share some top tips for succeeding at this month long endeavor.

I’ve participated in Camp Nanowrimo on and off throughout the years and I think it’s a really fun activity to participate in. I love that they expanded it to two months in the summer and they made it camp theme. I love being able to add friends to your “cabin”, I think it’s a great feature that should be added to November’s event.

This year I’m participating with a new book idea and as I’m trying to write as much as I can for that, I thought this would be a timely post for you.

Note that not all of these tips will apply to you and that they can be adjusted to whatever your Camp Nanowrimo looks like!

Tip #1: Create a Schedule

Yes some people write better in the spur of the moment, but for a lot of other people, blocking off some time will be really useful.

A lot of people have busy day jobs, families, and other commitments going on throughout their day so that might mean you need to write on your lunch break, in the mornings, or in the evenings. If you commute with a friend or take public transportation, that can be another great moment to get some writing time in as well.

Once you have planned out when you’re going to write, make sure to tell other people about it so they know not to bother you during now unless it’s crucial.

Tip #2: Decide how many words you need to write a day or how often

There’s nothing to say you have to write EVERY DAY in order to win Camp. However, they recommend around 1,600 words a day (give or take) to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month.

You can totally write more one day and take a break the next or write less on some days if you need to. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write a lot every day.

But knowing ahead of time what your schedule looks like and then planning out how many words you need to write on what days will help.

Tip #3: Come in with a plan

Not everyone is a plotter, a lot of people are “pansters”, however I believe that coming up with a plan before Camp starts can be really helpful.

This can be writing a very loose story line or writing about a pitch before hand. If anything, thinking of some key points and creating your characters ahead of time will be really useful. You don’t have to start writing the book in order to do some thinking ahead of time to set you up for success.

I also love creating Pinterest boards before I start writing. I think mood boards can be really useful, especially if we’re not always good at imaging exactly what we’re thinking of.

Tip #4: Set up your space(s)

Some people write better if they sit at the same spot every day. This can be your desk, the coffee shop, or the public library. But having a space dedicated to your work can help you get into the mindset when you need to.

Beyond that, having snacks, drinks, a blanket, and other items on hand to help you be more comfortable will assist you getting into the writing mood as well.

Tip #5: Select your music

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that creating a playlist for my books really helps my visual better what I’m writing, helps set the mood, and motivates me when I otherwise wouldn’t.

I love creating playlists on Spotify because it’s really easy to find the music you want, find what other people are listening to, and share what you’re listening to.

Tip #6: Select your motivating friends

The people you choose to surround yourself with can help or hinder your writing. Not everyone has supportive friends and family around them, but thankfully there are a lot of supportive communities and groups online.

Places you can typically check are Facebook Groups, Twitter, Wattpad, Camp Nanowrimo, and Goodreads.

If you’re the kind of person who likes people, you can also see if your local writer’s group is doing anything for the event or if you can set up some writing sessions with other writers in your area.

Tip #7: Don’t worry about grammar or spelling (or editing in general)

This applies outside of Camp Nanowrimo as well, however when you’re writing your first draft, don’t worry about your grammar or spelling until you’ve finished. You don’t want to spend 3 hours editing when you could be spending that time writing instead.

When you get done writing or you reach the goal, then you can go back through it. It also helps when you’ve finished to take a break and come back to it later so you can see it with fresh eyes.

Tip #8: Take care of your Mental Health

Camp Nanowrimo is supposed to be fun and a dose of healthy competition. We all know however it doesn’t always end up that way. Especially when well meaning friends and family end up stressing you out more about asking about your writing constantly or expecting that you’re going to be publishing it right away.

That’s why it’s important to take care of your mental health during this time. Especially in the year 2021 when the Pandemic is still happening. Understand when you need to take a step back and breathe and do something that isn’t writing every once in a while that you enjoy as well.

Maybe you read a book, go to the beach, take a bath, or visit the park. There are lots of ways we can relax that doesn’t involve worrying about our projects.

Remember that your health comes first and it’s okay not to win. After all, this is supposed to be fun and a good way to motivate people to write when they might not otherwise.

Tip #9: Reward yourself even if you don’t win

On that note, I think it’s important to celebrate our wins at all levels. This includes even if we don’t reach the 50,000 words. You might only write 10,000 or 32,000 or even 49,999. And that’s all okay! Whatever you end up writing during the month is important.

At the end of the month, take a step back and remember to breathe. You’ve done a great job and now it’s time to celebrate. Reward yourself with a small gift or activity and realize all the hard work you did.

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