The 2016 instalment of Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow (July 1st) and I will be taking part again. So, I thought I’d used today’s post to share my top 5 tips for winning Camp NaNoWriMo!
1. Plan, plan plan!
People often using running metaphors to describe NaNoWriMo events. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You wouldn’t go into a marathon without training. And I don’t think they’re wrong. My first tip for NaNoWriMo victory is to get yourself prepared. You’ll definitely need to set yourself an overall word count goal (mine is 75,000 words) and with that come an average daily word count (mine is roughly 2400). I would also recommend going in with an outline of your plot in mind to avoid burning out or writing yourself into a corner mid month. The key is making sure you plan enough to write for the whole month – in my first year I only planned enough for 30,000 words because I didn’t think I’d make it that far, and ended up being 20,000 words short because I couldn’t plan and write at the same time.
2. Make the most of the first week buzz
As you start your NaNoWriMo challenge you will more than likely encounter the first week buzz that comes with the excitement of seeing those initial goals hit. I have always found that the excitement of starting the new project makes me way more productive in the first week than at any other point in the month. So I always try and rack up as many words in the first week as I can to take the pressure of me as the month goes on, that way I can miss a day or to if I need to or not have to pull so many all nighters in the final few days.
3. Sign up on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and meet your new teammates
This may not be necessary if you have a lot of friends who love writing and you are all going to be taking part in the challenge together, but if you don’t then Camp NaNoWriMo has the perfect solution. You can select to be put into a random cabin and meet a whole bunch of people who have a similar writing goal to you (this year everyone in my cabin is working on a Fantasy project). Last year my cabin was full of people cheering each other on and sharing writing tips – which just made the whole experience less lonely. BONUS: your cabin mates can see how much you’ve written and can hold you accountable (and give you a little encouragement when you need it)!
4. Spice things up
At some point you will hit a brick wall – that’s just how writing works -and when that happens sometimes you just have to get a little bit crazy. There are also sorts of ways to inject some excitement into what you’re writing – my personal favourite technique is to take a dare on board. Now this is something I never would have done when I first started writing, I took my work way too seriously, I was pretty sure that I was going to finish and publish the first draft of my first ever novel idea and then I would be set for life. No I’ve learnt that maybe I’m not the bee’s knees, and actually a little bit of off the wall experimenting can’t really harm you. After all, if everything goes wrong you can always open up a fresh document. It’s a lot of fun getting a writing dare from your fellow writers and trying to squeeze them into your story and see how your characters would cope. And if worst comes to worst and you hate the way the dare turned out, at least you got to know your characters a little better – no writing practice is ever wasted.
5. Even if you don’t win, remember you’re still a winner
So maybe not all of us are going to hit our goals in the next month – who cares you’re still way closer to finishing your project then you were on July 1st. Whether you wrote 100 words or 49,000 you should still be proud of yourself for taking the time out to pursue your dream. Well done!
[A special, secret, bonus tip just for you: the best piece of writing advice I was ever given was ‘if your first draft doesn’t suck you’re not doing it right‘. This is something I’ve found I have to tell myself when I’m writing, otherwise I would scrap every project I started. When writing your first draft during Camp NaNoWriMo you have to turn of your need to be a perfectionist and your inner editor and just write. Sometimes this can be the hardest thing about the challenge.]
As I said about my Camp NaNoWrimo goal this year is 75,000 words. For the first time, this year I will be blogging my experience and keeping you all up to date on ho my project is going!
Are you taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so share your number one survival tip in the comments, and set me the most crazy dare you can think of!