Well, almost! The beautiful month of April is arriving soon, and with it comes the first Camp Nano of the year! And I am participating!
I love Camp Nano! Instead of the frigid, light-deprived November month of NaNoWrimo, we get to write like mad while Spring is blooming outside our window and inside our hearts. Ahhh, we have some fun ahead of us, friends! And lots of it!
What’s not to love about Camp Nano? We get to make magic by pouring words onto blank paper, hang-out with like-minded people, and eat awesome snacks.
However, in all honesty, there are SOME things you will need to navigate your way through Camp Nano. And thus, I have assembled a list of quick tips to help you have the most productive and enjoyable camp experience possible!
LET’S DIVE RIGHT IN – SHALL WE?
BEFORE CAMP NANO STARTS
1. Clean your work area.
I can only work on a untidy desk or in a untidy room for so long. Not only does a messy room destroy my focus, it destroys my peace of mind. Make sure your area is clean before Camp Nano begins, and keep it tidy throughout April. I know, things will get a bit chaotic as you crank out those words every day but, hey, a quick ten minute break to clean your desk will rest your blood-shot peepers and do buckets for your focus! Plus, don’t forget, we have a reputation to uphold for one another. We don’t want society to think writers are a bunch of messy slobs, do we? No, we don’t.
2. Clear your schedule.
Obviously, we can only clear our schedules so much. We still have to go to work. Homework or chores still have to be done. But, we can not over-commit ourselves. Don’t plan any vacations or massive projects for April. This is the month to write, not to overhaul your blog or paint all the furniture in your house. PRIORITIZE, PRIORITIZE, PRIORITIZE.
3. Rest up.
Make sure you get plenty of rest in March. This is especially important because of Daylights Savings (also known as Zombie-fication Day). AT LEAST makes sure you go to bed early on March 31st.
4. Pick a project.
5. Outline on your project throughout March so that you are ready to write in April!
Your entire writing experience will be much smoother and far more productive if you have a clearly defined map to guide you in your writing adventure!
6. Find a cabin!
The woods are full of frolicsome friends who are more than willing to welcome you into their fold!
7. Which brings me to . . . accountability.
This is so important. You’ll be grateful for the accountability in your writers cabin. Knowing that you’re fellow campers are watching your numbers is very helpful in getting us to stick with it. Plus, having a team that encourages you to keep going is invaluable! I love the kindness and encouragement that I find in writer’s groups! 😍
8. Bring plenty of writers-block spray.
It’s going to happen at least once, but let’s try to avoid staring at a blank computer screen as much as possible. It’s not pleasant.
The answer to that is to pack your suitcase with inspiration! Make some Pinterest boards, make a story playlist, create some fan art. Visit a place that reminds you of your story’s primary location or put some themed props around your writing space. The creator of NaNoWrimo wrote with a Viking helmet so, heck, if it helps, why not write in costume?
9. Have plenty of healthy snacks in a handy place.
10. And don’t forget the coffee.
11. Make sure your computer / laptop is in proper working condition.
Unless you like writing by hand (in which case, make sure you stock up on plenty of lined notebooks before April) it is vital that you make sure this piece of equipment is in top-notch condition before beginning Camp. If your computer crashes on you during Camp, this is basically the equivalent of being DUMPED OUT OF A CANOE WITH A LIFE VEST FULL OF HOLES AND SINKING INTO THE ABYSS WITHOUT HOPE OF RESCUE.
Huzzah! You’re in your cabin, you’ve met your new mates, and now the nitty-gritty of Camp has finally begun! Onto the next set of rules.
12. Don’t leave your daily writing goal till the last minute.
As soon as you get up in the morning, squeeze out at least some of your daily word count! Hit your daily minimum as soon as possible and remove the excess pressure!
Scrap up that “get ‘er done” attitude and buckle down. We all know we’re good at that.
13. Make sure you have a quiet place to work.
^ this WILL happen if you don’t make the proper arrangements ^
Find a room with a lock. Then barricade it. Then put on headphones to get rid of the sound of people banging on the door and yelling your name.
14. Avoid the animals.
Yes, wild flesh-eating animals are involved in Camp Nano. They’re shape shifters and can come in any form, so be beware! They are commonly known as DISTRACTIONS.
Hunt them. Kill them. Skin them and put them on your wall to put fear into all other distractions and to remind you of the solemnity of your vow to write.
^ isn’t that what all writers dress like during Camp Nano? ^
YOU. MUST. FOCUS. Do whatever you have to do to focus!
15. When you sit down for a writing session, make sure that everything you’ll need is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
16. And don’t get so wrapped up in your writing that you forget to eat.
Yeah, as if we would forget that.
17. Have something to fiddle with at your desk.
Staring at our computer screen or the wall constitutes over 50 percent of what we writers do all day.
It’s important to have something nearby during these times of intense concentration to keep our hands occupied and AWAY from our mobile devices. Paper clip chains, a bunch of knitting, silly putty. Even drum sticks!
18. Tell the negative voices in your head to put a sock in it.
After the first few days of Camp, some of the initial adrenaline will start to wear off and your productivity level might hit a temporary plateau. At this point, you’ll most likely start to experience some niggling doubt as gremlins whisper in your ear about how this was a bad idea and you’re going to fail.
TELL THEM TO BUZZ OFF. This is about getting more done than you would have without a goal. This is about trying new things and having fun. Negative thoughts and self-doubts have no place in Camp Nano.
19. Participate in word sprints!
There’s nothing like a word sprint to get you REALLY moving.
The goal of a word sprint is to sit down for a set amount of time and do nothing but write as fast as you can! Just spew out those words! The operative word here is volume. When you start a sprint DO NOT STOP FOR ANYTHING.
Some people call these breakneck writing sessions word WARS, which introduces a whole new incentive to the scenario. We all know that the key to turning the creative flow into a veritable waterfall is a little “friendly” competition.
But remember, you don’t have to be the Word Sprint Queen. Though it is nice to be. *looks modest*
Remember, we’re trying to win Camp Nano, not every word sprint. The point of a word sprint is too simply produce more words in a shorter amount of time, not to grind everybody’s nose in the dirt. It’s perfectly okay if you come in last in every word sprint! The point is to write, and to write more.
Yeah. We . . . don’t have to win . . . *pauses*
BY THE WAY, DID I MENTION THAT I TYPE 120 WORDS A MINUTE AND I’M VERY HARD TO BEAT IN WORD SPRINTS? I’M VERY NEARLY UNBEATABLE!!
20. Keep filling the well with creativity.
When you’re really stuck, watch a movie, read a book, play an instrument. Do something creative to stoke that dying coal of inspiration into a roaring fire!
Or maybe you just need to relax! Go sit out in the sun. Or maybe try a nice refreshing shower or bath.
It doesn’t even have to be creative or relaxing. Sometimes it’s better to do something physical. How about that cleaning I mentioned earlier? And while you’re at it, turn on some music and make it a dance party, since you probably haven’t moved from your desk in the last eight hours.
21. Back up your files!
Any moron will know to store food inside your cabin to keep bears from running out of the woods to maul you and steal your potato chips. Consider the loss of your hard-earned typing the equivalant of getting torn apart by a bear due to nothing more than carelessness.
BACK. UP. YOUR. FILES. If you don’t want to lose it, hit the ‘save’ button every five minutes. Technology is fickle, nothing will ruin your camp experience more quickly then that tragical glitch and we lose everything we’ve been writing for the last month.
No matter how much you have previously outlined, at some point, you will need to brainstorm your way out of a corner. Remember, DO NOT EDIT YOURSELF WHILE BRAINSTORMING. Just let the ideas spill out on paper. Breakthroughs can be shy! Sometimes you’ll have a full page of dumb ideas before you get to the really good ideas.
23. The “Last One Is A Rotten Egg” Syndrome.
Everybody is taking medals and taking prisoners left and right except you. These first few days (maybe weeks) have been like torture as you eek out minimum word counts. You’re starting to sweat a little. What if you fail? What if you have to lower your Camp Goal?
While those are two valid possibles (and no crime) there is still a third option. You might be suffering from the “Last One Is A Rotten Egg” syndrome. Not a very complimentary title, and for that I am sorry, but you know how campers are.
Anyway, this syndrome is common for a great many campers. They look like they’re losing, but they’ll come from behind in the final stretch like a whirlwind and blow everyone else in the dirt. You are the Queen of the Eleventh Hour. The Champion of the Nick of Time. Some people do their best work this way, and it’s very possible that you are one of these campers!
24. From Camp Champ to Barracks Bomb-Out Syndrome.
Camp may be going swimmingly for you in these first few weeks. You’re participating in all the camp activities and coming in first. In general, you are slaying Camp Nano.
In which case, congratulations! However, beware of the syndrome that strikes some campers, the dreaded Slump. Some will get halfway through Camp and have their luck run out. No more wins, no more inspiration, and a big, fat blank computer screen.
Remember that this is a perfectly natural phenomenon for many campers and all of these symptoms can be reversed with a little tenacity and by utilizing all of the tips in this blog post.
25. Maintain a positive attitude.
A little self-discipline is all it takes to be a Cheery Charlie instead of a Whiny Walter!
This isn’t just for yourself. There is nothing that will stifle all the Camp Nano fun faster than inviting someone into your cabin who looks like they’re going to be a trouper, only to find out that they have a negative attitude.
Don’t take the shine off someone else’s success if you’re making them feel guilty for being ahead of you or writing faster, or whatever. We’ll address more about that comparison later.
Choose to have a positive attitude! While we are here to bolster one another up and to be accountability partners, we have to pull some of our own weight! Buck up!
26. Whatever happens, no matter how hard it is, do not panic
HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I TOLD YOU NOT TO PANIC.
Rememberrrrrrr. *flashes overwhelmingly cheery smile* *speaks in sugary sing-song voice* WHAT IS CAMP NANOWRIMO SUPPOSED TO BE, DEARIES?
Thaaaaat’s right. This is nothing to get stressed about!
Make every effort to avoid the mass hysteria and the herd instinct that sends most campers stampeding towards Lake I’m-Losing-It. A poised and calm camper is an inspiration to everyone! This is the moment to impress the world with your self-possession and to practice your inner sang-froid.
27. KEEP GOING.
^ stopping is inadvisable ^
28. Keep reminding yourself – this is not JUST about winning.
Yes, you should make every effort possible to hit your goal, but if you don’t – it’s okay! Life happens! Things change. There are no Camp Nano police and you mustn’t beat yourself up if you don’t claim your win or have to lower your goal midway. Which brings me to –
29. Set the bar low.
Yeah, we all think we can write 2,000 plus words a day but life doesn’t always allow us to maintain that level of productivity. The wonderful thing about Camp Nano is that you can set the bar as low as you like and you are allowed a chance to test the waters of adversity before committing to something monumentous.
I strongly advise picking a low goal for your camp goal. You can always surpass your goal or change it if you are doing well.
There is nothing stinkier then setting a high goal and then failing to reach that goal and having ALL YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS SMASHED LIKE A PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA SANDWICH.
Set a low goal. This way, success will be virtually guaranteed and, if all goes well and you’re able raise your goal later on, you will be filled with a gentle radiating glow of achievement.
30. Avoid the mosquitoes.
Commonly know as Comparison. Swelling, itching, and scratching will ensue if you are bitten by the bug of comparison.
There will always be a showoff person who can jump higher and run faster than you.
Please place your hand over your heart and repeat our Camp Slogan. It Is Not Fair To Compare. There. Feel better?
Everyone is at a different place and has a different capacity for how long they can work, how fast they write, etc. Every writer’s process looks a little different. While the competition at Camp Nano CAN be helpful, be very careful that you spray down with comparison repellent. DO NOT COMPARE YOUR GOALS OR YOUR PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS WITH THE OTHER CAMPERS.
Someone will always be faster and someone will always be slower – NEITHER OF THOSE NECESSARILY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH SKILL OR FAILURE. It’s (usually) nothing more than individuality. Some of the greatest writers in history have been both fast and slow, so let’s not start feeling inferior or superior.
31. Always remember. It’s. Just. CAMP.
It might be tough, but we can do it! You have got this! We’re all in this together!
32. Lastly, make sure you have a recovery phase in place.
You will be mentally and emotionally exhausted at the end of Camp Nano. It’s just a fact.
You might even feel a little deflated or dissatisfied – though you shouldn’t! You’ve accomplished a great task! You should not only celebrate, but you should also make sure you schedule in at least one full day of recovery that has nothing to do with writing.
TIPS FOR NON-WRITERS ON HOW TO COPE WITH FAMILY THAT ARE GOING TO CAMP NANO
Camp Nano isn’t just tough for writers, it’s tough for the non-writers that have to live with writers. Because of this, I have assembled a list of tips for these beleaguered families to help them get through Camp (and life) with a Writer.
1. Don’t fight it.
Remember you can’t stop a tornado in its tracks, you can’t hold back a flood, you can’t stand before a tsunami. A writer’s gonna write, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
2. We’re going to be distracted, so please forgive us if we’re not really with you.
If you hear us mumbling about portals while we’re doing laundry, you’ll know we’d rather be writing then folding.
3. Please do feed us and keep the kitchen cabinets stocked with coffee.
Consider it a charitable cause to look out for us lunatics. Some people rescue dogs and cats, but YOU can do one step better. Rescue a writer!
4. Respect the Due No Disturb signs that are occasionally whisked out.
I would strongly suggest that you do not violate this silent request for a few moments of uninterrupted writing time. In the same way that you would use caution while approaching a wild animal, stop – consider. Do you really want to do this?
5. Whatever we’re doing, just accept it as research.
6. You will most likely have to repeat yourself – since they’re currently living in another world and won’t hear you the first time
7. Learn how to deal with cases of poison ivy.
If the writer you own is foolishly procrastinating or whining about how stressful camp is, curb this outcropping of Poison Ivy immediately.
a) Apply a salve. Example: Tell them to snap out of it.
b) Tell them to watch out for poison ivy in the future. Example: Remind them it was THEIR decision to join Camp Nano).
c) If they are having an uncontrollably allergic reaction, a trip to the doctor’s might be in order. Example:
8. Forgive us when we ask you to be quiet.
If you walk up and start talking to a writer and they abruptly ask you to leave or to be quiet for a second – please don’t take it personally.
Unless they are unnecessarily rude about it, then take it personally.
9. Remind writers to behave themselves while in public.
Most writers have no desire to embarrass their families or to be a social misfit. A quick reminder to a distracted writer will make everyone involved more comfortable when your Camp goes a-visiting.
^ actual footage of writers trying to behave naturally ^
10. Please keep the strait-jackets handy.
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Now fly! Be gone, my children. To the laptops! Disperse and be productive.
I have reached the end of my most sagacious advice. You can now walk boldly into the unknown, armed with the knowledge you will need to guide you on this path. Climb the mountain of difficulty, and forge your sword in the fires of experience. This burning story inside of you will only be cooled by action.
SO ARE YOU READY TO JOIN CAMP NANOWRIMO? I don’t know about you, but I am PSYCHED for Camp to begin.
Got my suitcases, got my coffee, got my writers block spray – I am ready for the madness!
WILL WE SURVIVE????