We are officially four (4!) days away from the start of Camp NaNoWriMo (depending on whether or not you count today, and whether or not you plan on starting right at midnight on Saturday, and where in the world you live). I mentioned back in step number four that planning out my research for any NaNoWriMo session helps me with this step. And that’s because having an idea of what I need to research helps me set up my smaller writing goals. You see, the Camp NaNoWriMo goals provided for you are fairly vague: write x number of words in 30 days. I like to set up smaller goals to help me break that vague goal down into actionable tasks. This not only helps keep me motivated throughout the entire month, but lets me start my day each day already know what I want to do.
Need to go back and read the previous steps?
First, my ultimate goal.
One of the nice things about Camp NaNoWriMo is that instead of the website telling you that your goal for the month is to write 50,000 words, you get to set your own goal for the month. Although, I do typically like to just stick with the 50,000 words.
The reason I like 50,000 words is that it averages out to 1,667 words per day. If you’ve been writing a long time, you know that 1,667 words in a day is a realistic goal that most writers of moderate motivation can reach with a little push. But it can also get blown right out of the water with a big push. It presents a challenge without becoming overwhelming.
You can make any changes to your project or goal at the Camp NaNoWriMo site right up until Camp NaNoWriMo actually starts. Once Midnight hits on day one of Camp NaNoWriMo, your word count goal is locked in.
Next, my weekly goals.
Once I have my monthly goal figured out, it’s pretty easy to divide that up into weekly goals. 50,000 words divided by 4 weeks is 12,500 words per week. For those of you who are pantsing or freestyling, this is probably about as close to a specific goal as you can get. I don’t like setting up daily wordcount goals because for me it feels like forcing creativity, and I don’t work very well when it feels forced. But I’ll get to that in more detail when we discuss daily goals.
For those of us who plan our novels, or who do a blend of planning and pantsing, I use my outlines to help set up my weekly goals. Now I know that there are several ways to plan out your novels and outlines. Not all of them work for me, although I have tried just about all of them (except Snowflake method, I haven’t tried that one yet). For those of you who use beat sheets, you can split up the beats into your weekly goals. For those of us who use an outline with chapter notes, it might feel a little harder because we don’t know exactly how long our chapters will be. But we can take a guess and split up the chapters between the four weeks just as though they were beats.
This means that for planners and plantsers, our weekly goals are going to read more like “Chapters 1-7” along with “12,500 words.” I use both for my weekly goals so I can help keep track of where I am at for the week and if I need to adjust anything (say, moving one chapter to a different week).
This also brings up a really good point. By using some form of measurement other than word count, you give yourself something to shoot for. “I’m going to write seven chapters this week” gives you something to shoot for that doesn’t quite feel so overwhelming. That’s just a chapter a day, with no pressure about how long that chapter needs to be.
Finally, my daily goals.
I don’t set specific daily goals when I’m purely pantsing a novel or freestyle writing. Instead, what I do is have on blanket goal. And every day I sit down at my computer or laptop with that goal in mind: to write 100 words.
You see, by the time I reach 100 words, one of two things tends to happen. Either I have struggled too hard to get to those 100 words and I know I’m not going any further…or I get myself on a roll where the words and ideas are just flowing and I better stick with it while I can. This allows me to remain flexible in my freestyling, rather than trying to stuff it into a rigid schedule. One day I might only write those 100 words, but the next day I might get in 2300 words. Who knows? But the beauty of freestyling is the joy of finding out when you’re done.
When I am planning or plantsing my novel, of course, I go about things a little differently. I sit down every week to review my weekly goals, and plan out daily tasks based on those goals. I assign two types of tasks for each day: writing through a particular scene or chapter, then researching what I need for tomorrow’s writing session. So, my goal for a Monday might be something like: “Write chapter two and introduce character #3, research sword types for fight scene in chapter three.” Then my list for Tuesday would read “Write chapter three with sword fight scene, research pirate vessel schematics for escape scene in chapter four.”
I like writing my daily goals out this way because I never sit down at a blank document and wonder where I wanted to take my story. I use my pencil in my bullet journal to keep track of my list and adjust if I need to for length or time.
You don’t need to have your daily goals and lists all ready to go before we launch on the first. I’m usually lucky if I have enough planned out to get the first three days planned out for myself.
Get in touch with your accountability partner.
Remember back in step two when you partnered up with someone to help keep you on track? With your ultimate and weekly goals set up, now would be a great time to touch base and share your goals with your partner. Exchange goals and talk to each other about what you plan to do to meet those goals, and what you might need help with. Are there hindrances that you fear may come up that will keep you from meeting those goals? Do you know of any obstacles that might get in the way? Discuss those with your partner as well so you can create a plan for how to get around those things.
Find ways to stay motivated once Camp NaNoWriMo starts.
If you’ve been following along as we get prepared, then you remember that back in step one I said to get pumped. Get excited and ready to go! And I said that so your excitement would help get you through the rest of these steps: the planning, and the researching, and the sharing with your partner. So now it’s been eight days of you feeling excited and ready to go, go, go! Once Camp NaNoWriMo officially starts, you should be able to hit the keyboard and roll.
But, that same level of excitement and the motivation that comes with it doesn’t always last. Take a few minutes to think about the things that might suck the excitement out of you. Do you know how to pull yourself out of those slumps? If you need ideas, you can review my 20 Tips on How to Stay Motivated for NaNoWriMo. And make a list of things you might need to get or do so you can avoid those writing slumps and keep your excitement rolling so you can meet those goals.
Follow along and get prepared with us!
Step Six: Turn off your Inner Editor and Kiss your Friends Goodbye.