Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo in 7 Steps

It’s that time of year again! Be it April or July approaching, Camp NaNoWriMo is only days away and you can’t wait to dive deep into another creative writing project.

Not so fast, campers. It’s NaNoWriMo tradition not to write any word of your upcoming story until April 1 or July 1. It’s up to you to keep that promise—scout’s honor.

Isn’t there anything you can do to get ready for Camp NaNoWriMo? A resounding yes!

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo is a lot like preparing for a camping trip. From packing to planning, so much needs to happen before you hop in the car and drive off to your destination.

Restless? Excited? Anxious? Burn off your nervous energy with these goal-focused activities so that you have a successful Camp NaNoWriMo season.

Step 1: Define Your Project

Don’t shrug this off as a no-brainer. As a writer, you simply don’t have one writing project on the back burner—you have dozens of storylines swimming inside your head.

Now comes the hard part: which one do you choose?

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo starts with a choice on which creative story deserves all your attention. If you waver on your decision halfway through the month, that’s time lost on a story that’s worth your creative energy.

So, how do you decide? Write down all your story ideas not as their working title but as a summarized phrase describing the most fascinating part of each tale. Which story idea is the furthest along in creative development? Which story is the most actionable? And which story is the most appealing to you?

That’s your story for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Step 2: Plot the Details

Camp rules state that you can’t write a single word of your creative writing project until Camp NaNoWriMo begins. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write anything about your story.

Truth is, there’s a lot to sort through when it comes to a new story. And you don’t have to spend any time during Camp NaNoWriMo figuring it out, especially when you have the time now to clean up the clutter.

There are so many things you can write before Camp NaNoWriMo starts. Character sketches, world building, synopsis, outline—if you think you know your story well enough, think again.

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo means working your way through the story details now so that you can just write during the camp session.

Step 3: Schedule Time to Write

Don’t assume that you can just make Camp NaNoWriMo work. It’s a slippery slope going from one day of not writing to weeks of empty pages and unmet goals.

That’s not what you want. You want to complete this creative project. That means blocking it on your calendar and sticking to a schedule.

There’s no point in preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo if you don’t have time during the month to write. So, get out your calendar and take a hard look this month. What is the best time of day to write in your schedule? What do you need to shift around to make time to write? What is your plan for days that have firm commitments?

Have a plan on how you can make Camp NaNoWriMo happen so that it does happen.

Step 4: Set Up Camp

In a post-pandemic world, this step in preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo requires more thought. Gone are the days of in-person writing sessions. And the struggle is real in finding any coffeeshop offering in-person dining for those away-from-home writing sessions.

Most likely, you’re pitching your tent for your Camp NaNoWriMo sessions at home. That means creating a writing workspace that makes you feel at home—while at home.

Where can you write at home that’s distraction-free? Is this space clutter-free? How can you make this space more comfortable to your writing needs? And how can you make this space more inspiring?

Get your campsite in order so that your environment empowers you to create during Camp NaNoWriMo.

Step 5: Stock up on Supplies

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t all about your writing. There are so many non-writing tasks to complete before Camp NaNoWriMo. That includes adding shopping to your list.

Every minute counts during camp session, so gather all the resources you need to succeed. Do you have all the writing tools you need to succeed? What non-writing supplies for your life can you purchase now so that you reduce your visits to the store during Camp NaNoWriMo?

Stock up your freezer with prepared meals that you can easily heat in the oven, on the stove or in the microwave. Load up your refrigerator with nutrient-packed foods and pack your pantry with health-conscious snacks and ingredients. Creativity thrives on eating healthy foods, so choose to meal prep future meals in your own kitchen.

Step 6: Build Your Fanbase

Not everyone in your life is excited about your decision to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. In fact, you’ll notice that multiple IRL people don’t care or believe you’re crazy to dedicate yourself to such an endeavor.

These people are not your fanbase.

It helps to have one or two people in your life who can provide personal support to you during your writing journey. They don’t have to be writers or have any interest in writing. They simply have to care about your well-being and to be a positive influence on your life, especially as you take on this writing journey.

Make a list of all the people in your inner circle. Is anyone willing to step up as your cheer squad? Speak to them now about your Camp NaNoWriMo writing goal so that your support is in place by Day 1.

What’s great about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you can also be involved in a virtual community. Upon signing in, you can join local groups, add buddies and participate on forums. There’s simply no way that you can go through this camp session without someone’s support.

Step 7: Connect Wins with Rewards

It doesn’t matter how inspired or energized you feel about writing today. Writing fatigue is bound to hit you midway through Camp NaNoWriMo, zapping any motivation you currently have for your writing project.

Determination is key in reaching your goals during this camp session. So, segment your story out by key milestones and assign a prize for completing each goal. That way, you are motivated not just to achieve the goal but for the reward that follows.

I love to eat, but I always choose prizes that are not food-focused. Instead, I select rewards that enhance my self-care regiment, be it soaking in a hot bath with the fancy oils, watching a favorite movie or taking a day trip to explore a new destination.

Bonus step: get pumped! Camp NaNoWriMo is only as fun as you make of this experience. It’s up to you to make it a good one, a happy one, a creative one and a successful one.

Did I miss a step on preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo? What do you do to get ready for this writing challenge? Share your strategy in the comments section below.

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