• Sheila & Swede

#CampNaNoWriMo - Writers Getting Words Written

You may have seen the hashtag #CampNaNo or #NaNoWriMo on social media from time to time. Maybe you've even participated. For those who haven't, we'll start off this post with a brief background.


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is a non-profit organization promoting creativity. One of their programs is Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual writing retreat. For NaNoWriMo, you have a fixed goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. With CampNaNo, held in April and July, you can set any word/hour/line/page goal and you can focus on revisions or all-new projects.


Excited about the challenge of writing toward a goal? Curious to know how to meet that goal even when it seems daunting? Read on for Sheila & Swede's tips on getting those words written.


How to meet your writing goals for #campnano

The Swede


I’ve participated in both CampNaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo several times over the past five years. Sometimes I’ve made it. Sometimes I’ve quit along the way. Writing to meet a goal – whether it’s in terms of words or hours – isn't always smooth sailing. Sometimes you fall behind due to unexpected circumstances, and it's hard to catch up. Here are some key elements I’ve found necessary for completing my goal during an intense writing month.


Excitement


The times I’ve worked on stories I’ve been excited to see how they turn out, I’ve reached my word goal and then some. One year, I tried to work on a story that was dear to my heart, one that I'd been trying to write for years, and the pressure of getting it right took all the joy out. Since I wanted perfection, all I got was disappointment.


Scrivener


I have to say I enjoy writing in Scrivener if for no other reason than to be able to set word count goals for myself and to track the project's total words. It also lets me have my outlining notes visible in a window to the side of the main text and to make proper length chapters by checking how many words are in each scene. Plus, I can compile the project once I'm done and read it on my Kindle, which is always fun. Or cringe-worthy, depending on the story.


I’m not a big outliner; I usually want to get to know the characters along the way and find out from them what their story is, but I’ve found it useful to have a general outline for certain projects. Scrivener lets me move scenes around and decide if and where I might want to use them in the future, all while maintaining my word count.


Limiting distractions


I once wrote 25,000 words in a week. How? I denied myself outside entertainment (TV/Netflix/books/YouTube) in order to create entertainment in my writing. I was absolutely firm on not turning on the TV or picking up a book until I'd completed my word count for the day. Instead of reading before bed, I brought my notebook with me and kept working on my novel until I drifted off.


Mixing handwriting with typing


It's a well-known fact that handwriting stimulates creativity, but obviously it takes longer than typing. As previously mentioned, I take my notebook to bed with me and continue writing the scenes I've been working on. The next day, I type up my notes, and then keep typing. By typing them up, I’m already in writing mode when it comes to creating new content, and the words flow better.


Word sprints


I find word sprints extremely helpful for getting that extra boost in the word count. I follow NaNoWriMo word sprints on Twitter, and I join in for a few group word sprints and personal word sprints on the NaNoWriMo website.


The Sheila


I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo twice and succeeded both times, but the last time I signed up for CampNaNoWriMo, I fell short of my goal. I wrote 36,000 words, which was more than I had before I started, but not what I’d been aiming for. That was five years ago, and I figure it’s high time to try my hand at it again. This time I’m ambitiously shooting for 60,000 words.


Here are 6 things I do now that I didn’t do back in 2013. Hopefully, they’ll help me accomplish my goal!


Outlining


Once upon a time, I was a ‘pantser’. I scoffed at planners and outliners because I believed they sucked all the joy out of writing a story. Fast forward five years later, and I understand how much time an outline can save me. I see the value in evaluating just how strong the story is before I start writing it. A map of where I’m going and what I plan to write during my writing sessions helps me to make good use of my time.


Of course, the unexpected will happen as I write, the characters will surprise me and put my outline to the test. And the story will evolve, as all good stories do. But I can navigate all the changes with flexibility and a simple tweak to the plan. This is much more time efficient than sitting down and staring at a blank page and wondering what I’m going to write.


Turning off the phone and the internet


Some people consider this a little extreme, but I see it as common sense. Like the Swede, I find that getting rid of distractions increases my chances of having a productive writing session. Any research I need to do, I do before I sit down so that I don’t start looking up details when I should be getting words down. While I’m writing, I’m writing – not checking my emails, watching TV, looking on Instagram, or searching for the most popular boys names in 1992.


I then reward myself for knuckling down and getting words on paper. Books, movies, TV, and Instagram are excellent ways to reward myself for a job well done.


Setting the timer


I set the timer every time I sit down to write. Usually, I prefer twenty-five minutes increments because that’s the length of a Pomodoro. I like pomodoros because they allow enough time to concentrate and sink into the task, but not so much that you feel like you have time to stare at the page and ponder how to start your sentence. After a writing session, I spend five minutes editing.


Once I’m done, I get up and have a quick break before sitting down to do it all over again.

This keeps me fresh for the next writing session and increases my output. It’s also put a stop to long writing sessions where I don’t really start writing until around fifteen minutes before I know I have to stop.


Making notes after a writing session


If the timer runs out but I’m in the middle of a scene that flows, I will jot down some rough notes about how I see the rest of the scene unfolding, including what my characters might say. This means that when I sit down to continue the scene, I have a little more direction than what’s in my outline.


Competing


I don’t compete with others, but I do compete with myself. I like to see how many words I can write in a Pomodoro and then improve on it.


I think that tracking my progress is an essential part of succeeding. I’ll make a mark in my diary every time I do a Pomodoro, and I’ll write down how many words I write during each one. At the end of the day, I know how long I’ve spent writing and how many words I’ve written.


Telling myself tomorrow will be better


I used to think I was a negative person, but now I like to think that I’m learning positivity. The older I get, the more positive I am. If I have a bad writing day, I don’t hate myself for slacking off, or not meeting my word goals. Instead, I let it go and get into bed with the idea that tomorrow is a fresh start – I’ll do better when the sun comes up.


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There you have it - our tips and tricks for getting words written during CampNaNoWriMo. Do you have any tips you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments or strike up a convo on our Instagram or Twitter pages (Be warned: It may take us awhile to get back to you - we're out camping, after all ;)


Happy writing!


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