10 Ways to Win Camp NaNoWriMo

Taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo? Don’t miss out on my guest, Tim Oliver’s, top ten tips to a great Camp and an epic win. The stage is yours, Tim.

Another April has decided to come around again, and to many writers, it can only mean one thing—Camp NaNoWriMo. And Camp comes with cabins, not physical ones, but when has the absence of reality impaired the imagination of a writer? Whether it is the sister, brother, cousin or estranged relative of NaNoWriMo it still retains the awesomeness of the main event.

In this guest blog, I thought I’d share some tips to win at Camp NaNoWriMo.

Tip 1: Set Your Goal

This advice may come a bit too late for this Camp, but I think it is vital. This month is about achieving your own personal goal. This is not the NaNo marathon, and I made this mistake in my first Camp. Use this flexibility to your own advantage, and ask yourself realistically what you can get done in the month thanks to the evil real life distractions. For example, I really want to get an edit of my novel done, but realistically I will only manage 30,000 words. And also remember, you can use the Camp to achieve a wide variety of projects, not just novels.

Tip 2: Plan your Month

Normally, the word ‘planning’ is enough to make me shiver with fear. I hate writing knowing what is coming around the literal corner, and it is always fun trying to explain a woolly mammoth falling out of the sky. But I’m meaning time planning. And I don’t mean ‘on Friday 3rd April’ I will write 1,450 words’ because writing is not like that. I really wish it were that simple. What I mean is fitting your time in between work or studies, socialising or even other writing commitments. Make sure you have a time period every day dedicated to Camp, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. It is amazing what you can write in that time.

Tip 3: Awesome Cabins

I am aware that some writers don’t like the cabin feature (so ignore this if you’re one of them), but I am a massive fan. Even if you don’t sprint with them, it is always wonderful to meet fabulous writers. The motivation I get from them is huge, and I do believe they drag writers over the finishing line. So use them. Go on.

Tip 4: Environment

Okay, I admit this may be stating the obvious, but make sure your desk is ready for words, every day in April. Make sure your desk is perfect for you. I admit, I like a messy desk, so for me this involves making sure I have a healthy stock of tea, chocolate and the perfect music playlist.

Tip 5: Keep to Your Target

Like the awesome Write Chain, set yourself a minimum target word count for each day but keep it realistic. Say you want to write 50,000 words in April, your daily target should not automatically be 1,667 words. Remember, there may be some days you will only have 30 minutes of writing time so the number of words you write in your shortest writing time should be your daily goal.

Tip 6: Don’t Panic

It has happened to me, and it has happened to other writers. Two weeks in, and your ‘words to write’ target is terrifyingly high. And then you procrastinate and make it worse. Then in stressing about procrastinating, you procrastinate even more and you get trapped in the infinite loop of procrastination. This is the point of the daily target—you just keep that word total ticking over, even if it is only 300 words. Don’t let this get to you because writers can perform extraordinary feats of writing.

Tip 7: Be Prepared

In both the last two weeks of Camp, try as much as possible to leave a day solely dedicated to your Camp NaNo project and fill that day with words. But with all these plans, that old enemy procrastination comes into play. And this is where those utterly brilliant cabins and your Twitter friends (as well as real life writers) come into play. Let them know this day is dedicated to your writing and they will poke you until those words flow. It is amazing how quick my motivation improves when I’m participating in writing sprints.

Tip 8: Inspiration is Everywhere

Another general piece of writing advice, but nonetheless an important one. Whenever you go out, make sure you bring a notebook and pen. You might overhear something, notice something or have a thought jump into your head out of nowhere—and those pesky spontaneous thoughts disappear quickly. And there is nothing worse than arriving back home, inspired by your genius idea—and then spend the next eight house trying to remember what the darn thing was.

Tip 9: Don’t Get Disheartened

Sometimes the worst enemy of the writer is the source of your inspiration—your real life. You may get ill, something bad may happen or work may exhaust you. Life is full of unexpected events that conspire to stop you writing, and if it didn’t then there would be no stories. And when you realise you wrote 0 words, it can dishearten you, especially if this goes on for a couple of days or more. But as the cliché goes, tomorrow is another day, so write then. Remember, it is amazing what the last week Camp NaNo pressure does your word counts.

Tip 10: WRITE!

What’s that? You just need to check something? No, you need to write. Write, write, write. Just put one word down onto the paper, and then the next one, and another one and keep going. When it is time to write, ignore all distractions and just—write. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll achieve.

Have an awesomely word-tastic Camp :) I hope these tips help you.