Hi there!! Here we are! Just a couple of days left to complete our Camp NaNoWriMo prep before it starts. If you’ve been following along, then you’ve already gotten yourself excited for the next month, found a partner and started training using writing sprints, started gathering ideas and inspiration, planned out plot elements, characters, and meals, set up your goals (and shared them with your partner) and you probably feel like you’re ready to go, right?
Need to go back and read the previous steps?
Kiss your Friends Goodbye
Okay, not really. The friends who are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo aren’t going anywhere. In fact, you may find yourselves closer than ever by the time all is said and done. But as for your other friends and family members, now is a good time to let them all know that you are going to be dedicating the next 30 days to your writing. Explain to them that this will mean fewer phone calls will be answered, fewer texts will receive a reply, and fewer spontaneous invitations out will be accepted. Instead, set up some dates to get together with your friends. Then stick with those dates. That way, you’ll still be able to take scheduled breaks and give yourself some much-needed time off from your writing and your friends won’t think you’ve abandoned them or been kidnapped.
Identify Causes of Writer’s Block and Block Them
In my experience, writers don’t get stuck while brainstorming the story. They get stuck in the details. Trying to find the exact right word, trying to choose the perfect name for that character, trying to choose the exact right location for their story. Getting too caught up in the details stops your idea in its tracks — before you even have a chance to get on a roll. It’s for this reason that nearly every novel I have ever written start with a female character named Clara. It’s not out of some narcissistic need to have a heroine named after me. It allows me to start getting the story out. The name can always be changed later.
During the month of Camp NaNoWriMo, all rules and thesauruses go out the window. I don’t care about finding the exact right word. What I care about is getting the concept out. Rules are for editors, and I can fix just about anything while I’m editing — but only if I get the story written.
Make a list of the things that get you stuck and write them down. Then brainstorm fixes. If you tend to get stuck while thinking up names, brainstorm a list of names you can turn to as you need them. Do you get stuck on city names or geography? Brainstorm a list of locations.
For anything else you can’t fix before Camp NaNoWriMo, get ready to use a lot of brackets. For example, I once wrote the sentence “[Find out Naval ranks] Clara slammed the door behind her and stormed down the [look up schematics to submarines].” The most ridiculous sentence in the world? Maybe. But it allowed me to keep going, and get through the rest of the ridiculous paragraph. Plus, it gave me direction for something I needed to look up between sprints.
Remember to Have Fun
I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for years. And I’ve seen just about every type of author have just about every type of reaction to this writing challenge. I’ve seen authors cry, stress, pull their hair out. Even I have come close to quitting on more than one occasion. I’ve also seen them brag, smile, and jump with joy. I’ve seen friends zip out almost 25,000 words in a single day while others struggle to pound out their first 1,000 words by the end of the first week. Remember, NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t matter if you finish the day with 100 words or 10,000 words, celebrate every accomplishment. Pat yourself on the back all month long. Everything you do during the month of Camp NaNoWriMo is great.
So when you’re staring at your monthly word count goal, and thinking about how overwhelming it looks, remember how excited you’ve been as we’ve been preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo. Remember that you can do this — and remember how much fun you’re going to have as you create this new novel.
Don’t forget to track your progress!
Half the fun of Camp NaNoWriMo is in getting to track the progress I’m making. I use two trackers (in addition to the normal word count tracker on the Camp NaNoWriMo site): my bullet journal and my digital bullet journal. That’s right — I use both pen-and-paper and a digital journal. What’s your favorite method for tracking your progress?