For anyone who’s been on my blog across a November, April, or July, you’ve probably heard me talk about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before. This paragraph will be to catch up anyone new to the concept. NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge that occurs every November. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word novel from scratch in the 30 days of November. Whether someone makes it to that word count or not, it’s a month full of crazy inspiration, challenge, and an amazing community. Camp NaNoWriMo is a similar challenge held in April and July where participants can select their own goal (words, pages, lines, hours, or minutes are options this year). This gives participants the versatility to say they want to do 500 lines of poetry, a 100-page script, or a 120-minute screenplay.
I am a huge fan of the NaNoWriMo challenge as well as the more versatile Camp NaNoWriMo options. I love the ability to decide to draft to a word count, challenge myself to carve out a set amount of writing time, or get through a certain page count of revisions. Granted, I usually want to draft, because that’s the fun part. This year I’m working on a revision. I’ll get into more detail on that next week when I talk about my April 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo project.
For now, I’d like to talk about what I’m doing to prepare. If you’re also doing the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge, or have in the past, please share your own preparation strategies in comments. My prep work falls into seven broad categories.
Strategy 1: Blocking out time
I’m going through my month and planning out when I have commitments (work, laundry, grocery shopping) and then scheduling in writing time around that. Sprints during laundry cycles is one example. Writing on my lunch hour is another.
Strategy 2: Meal planning
I’m making sure that I have plenty of supplies for quick and easy meals. The last week of March I’ll be making a few big batches that I can freeze. I’m also planning lunches so that they’re easy to eat while I’m typing. Sandwiches can take more time to prep each day, but they’re much easier to eat while I work or type, so they make a great option.
Strategy 3: Having all my supplies in order
I’m revising this April, so I’m going to make sure I have all the supplies I need for that pulled together into my writing bag. This includes a print out of the manuscript, plenty of pens and highlighters in multiple colors, and spare paper. This is in additions to the supplies that always live in my writing bag: laptop, chargers, mouse, headphones, and emergency snacks.
Strategy 4: Extra write-ins
I host a weekly write-in all year, but for Camp NaNo, I’ll be adding in a few extra days with write-ins. I love the motivation of being with others working on similar goals, as well as the creative energy that always comes with gathering together a group of creative writers. I may try out a few locations we haven’t been to before to see if they could be good fits for November.
Strategy 5: Completing other projects/commitments in advance
I want to make sure I have as few commitments taking time away from writing as possible. That means finishing up the beta reading I’m working on now, and not taking on anything new until May. It also means finishing any non-writing projects to before then. I have some jewelry repairs for my grandmother that I need to wrap up before my parents’ summer trip to visit her. To make sure I’m done in time, I need to have a chunk of it completed before taking a month-long break.
Strategy 6: Managing work stress in advance
April can be an intense month at work for me, so I’m taking the extra time in March to try to make everything as smooth as possible come April. It means a little extra work here and there, but it pays off in the long run. Keeping on top of all the smaller tasks that tend to pile up in April will also help when crunch time really hits.
Strategy 7: Spreading the word
I’m letting friends, family, and the internet know what I’m doing. The accountability of Camp NaNo helps me a lot. Knowing that anyone I’ve told can check up on me is a great motivator to stay on top of my goal. It also feels great when someone who isn’t part of my writing community asks how my project is going. It feels even better when I can tell them it’s going well.
So what strategies do you use to prep for this kind of big adventure or challenge?