Sunday, May 1, 2016

Let's Survive NaNo Camp!

Disclaimer: This post is guaranteed to contain pure randomness and obvious rambling. 
Don't say that I didn't warn you. 

Well, folks, we did it. We survived NaNo Camp. 

If you get that reference, you are an awesome person. If not, you are still an awesome person. 
WE SURVIVED. Some of us met our goals, some of us didn't, but we all survived. I think. I really really hope that we all survived. I believe death by NaNo camp would be the first writing related death I've seen. With the exception of all my characters.
Getting off track, Petra. 
I finished Camp with a grand total of 51,530 words. Yep. After I won, I didn't have much motivation to keep going. Which is fine. I got 50K out of it ;)

Have I mentioned that we survived? WE DID. WE'RE AWESOME! 
/whispers/ But do you want to know something else? /leans in close/ 

It wasn't easy.
I know, I know... This is a shocker, riiiight? I'm just being honest. NaNo Camp was NOT easy. It was actually pretty difficult. There were days where I wanted to throw my entire idea out the window. I would wake up in the morning and groan at the thought of having to write. At this very moment, I'm tired of my novel. I really am. It's still a good idea, which I know that I'll finish eventually. But I'm kind of sick of writing the words right now. 
And that's okay. 

I was washing my hair the other night - don't all ideas come while hair-washing? - when an idea struck me. 
Hey, you. Yes, you. The one with shampoo on your head. Is there anybody else here? Of course I'm talking to you. I have an idea for you. You know how hard this month has been? NO, YOU SELFISH AUTHOR, I DIDN'T MEAN HARD ON YOU... I MEANT HARD ON YOUR POOR CHARACTERS. Gosh, you're selfish. Anyway, I think that you should compile a list of survival techniques for the next NaNo events. I know that you DEFINITELY could use a list... Maybe it'll keep your future characters safe from the cruel and unusual death sentence that you have so kindly placed upon them. That was sarcasm, idiot. I also think that you should post it on your blog... I don't know WHO IN THIS WORLD would actually READ your blog, but the poor souls who happen to stumble across it probably could use your encouragement - however rotten it may be. 

Gee, thanks. Love you too, brain.
Naturally, I complied with the wishes of my loving mind and have compiled a list of simple things which could contribute to a NaNo camp success story.

Okaaaay, before anything else happens, - ahem - I should probably get started with this list thing.

1. Plan Ahead. 

Oh my goodness. I cannot stress to you just how important this is. This year is the first year that I've officially won anything NaNo. And you wanna know something else? I've had this story idea in the works for almost a year now. Granted, it's changed a ton since April 1st (I can hardly recognize it...), but I knew the general idea of what was going to happen. The basic plot outline was already in my brain, I had a pretty good grasp on my existing characters, and I knew which ones I still needed to introduce. All that said... PLEASE, FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR PRECIOUS SANITY, PLAN TO PLAN AHEAD.

2. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute. 

This also goes along with the first idea. Don't wait till the last minute to start planning. It'd also help your cause to avoid waiting until April 1st to create/update your camp profile. Now, this one is kind of a harsh judgement towards me... And that's simply because I didn't listen to my own advice. As of the last week in March, I wasn't participating in camp. I woke up March 30th and was all, "Hey, self, why don't we do NaNo Camp?" It still worked for me, but I had already had the idea for a while.

3. Utilize the Site Gadgets. 

This kinda sounds like a no-brainer... Just hear me out.
In all of my past NaNo experiences, I have never - I repeat, I have never ever been more obsessed with the Camp Website. You wanna know something cool? /whispers/ They have this cool feature that shows you your progress. In order for that to work, you actually have to update your word count. See, what happens when you track your awesome skills is that you begin to want to type that shaky number in. You know, that final number. The one that seals the deal and pastes the 'winner' title on your profile. This, however trivial it may seem, the motivation will work wonders for you.
Trust me.

4. Read Your Mail. 

With life being life and your novel being your novel, it's quite easy and extremely tempting to let your camp inbox fill up with unread messages. Don't. I can't tell you how many times these little tidbits of joy have helped me. Whether it's the inspiring pep talk, or the plot-twist dare that's included... It's all helpful, folks. And even if you don't have the AHA moments while reading your messages, it will give you a break from the words that you're writing.

5. Stop Thinking About Editing. 

Okay, time to be real, here. Who doesn't think about editing in the midst of writing? If we're all truthful with ourselves, usually we have the reoccurring thought, This is so terrible... Ughhh, the editing that this will require. 
Believe me, that was the most thought of thought that I thought this month. Eloquent sentence, I know...
Anywho, when I keep thinking about all the editing that this stupid story is going to take, it tends to make me want to a) tear my hair out, b) quit writing for good,
or c) cry  .

None of those options are going to help you win camp.

6. Write... Just write! 

Honestly, the times that help you to grow as a writer are those that you force yourself out of your comfort zone. When you think the thoughts of, ughhh, I've got the bare minimum done today. Time to watch cat videos on Facebook... (not that I've done that or anything), it's time to write, friend! If you have time to watch cat videos on Facebook, you certainly have time to write. It will benefit you as a writer in the long-run and it will also give you some grace for the days when life takes over and says, "NO. YOU CAN'T WRITE."
In the words of the Nike athletic company, "Just do it."

7. Make Use Of the Tools that You Have. 

If you have something like WriteorDie, make use of it. The tools geared towards your success will help you succeed (duh, Petra). Sometimes you just need an extra push in the right direction. Spiders and shrieking bats will do that.
Besides word wars (more on those later), my favorite tool is Write Deck. I had no idea it existed until this month. Before Katie told me about it, I didn't know what a word sprint was. If you're like me (somebody who has social anxiety) and the thought of competing against a stranger scares you, just compete against yourself. I did several sprints with friends, and then even more on my own. There's just something wonderful about seeing that progress bar fill up. I actually wrote my last 2K words for Camp using Write Deck. It was pretty fabulous.

8. Talk to People. 

Picture this:
You're going on a diet. You've finally decided to learn to love spinach and water. That's right; no pizza or ice cream. Ever. But you decide to 'surprise' everybody with your success story.
What's going to happen when you're at Walmart and see donuts on markdown? Huh?
Hint: you're going to buy them - because who doesn't want donuts?
You think to yourself, "Hey, I haven't actually told anybody about this diet... They'll never know."
And that's the problem, isn't it?
If we aren't held accountable by those who love us, we won't have a reason to succeed. By caving and doing what feels good for the moment (i.e. binge pinning or watching cat videos. Which I still didn't do.), we aren't going to succeed in the long run. I am so thankful for my awesome writing buddies, who would constantly message me throughout the month saying, "hey, you, get off pinterest and write." They know me pretty well.
Another huge benefit to talking to people is the wonderful discovery of WHAT YOU'RE DOING CAMP TOO? LET'S WARRRR! 
I'm not joking. My buddies were 98% of my success this month.
/hugs all the friends/

9. Remember to Eat and Sleep. 

This is so important. Often times, I'll finish with school and hurry to begin writing. Before I know what's happened, I haven't eaten since breakfast, and it's bedtime. Eh, just a few thousand more. And then I look at the clock and it's three a.m. If it's three a.m., I might as well pull an all-nighter. I've made it this far.
NO, NO, AND NO. Eating and sleeping are vital components to life - as well as being a successful novelist.
Eat good foods.
Get good sleeps.
You won't regret it.

10. Don't Forget the Chores. 

Clean laundry and dishes? Who cares anyway?
Throw that attitude out the window. I procrastinated laundry for two weeks into April and it took me forever to get caught up. Keep to your regular schedule of how you do things. You'll feel productive and it'll give you down-time to think about your story, without writing it at the same time. And, yes, those two things are extremely different.

11. Close Pinterest. 

Trust me, those pins will be there for you when May rolls around. And if you're like me (somebody who runs out of inspiration pretty fast), set a time limit to your 'research'. Tell one of your writing buddies - preferably one who is visibly online - that you're going onto Pinterest for 10 minutes. Tell them that, and ask them to hold you to it.
/hugs writing buddies again/

12. There's NO Shame in Bumping the Word Count. 

No shame at all. If you get halfway into the month and it's obvious to you that you aren't going to reach your goal, reset your goal. Make it work for you.

13. Treat Your Lovely Self in a Lovely Way. 

I can't stress this enough. You are lovely. Treat yourself that way. Don't mentally bash your writing, because as long as you're giving your best, all you can do is write. Don't compare your writing, because your apples are nowhere near their oranges. If you wrote 20K this month, pat yourself on the back. If your friend wrote 120K, pat her on the back. You both did amazing and deserve ice cream and a private Twenty One Pilots concert.

14. Take Some Dares. 

Remember #4? Read your mail. In each daily care package, there's a dare included at the bottom of the message. This is basically just plot twist idea, which you can take or leave. I've never taken the exact dare before, but I at least think them through. Sometimes the dare will lead to a thought process of applying it to my own story and coming up with my own chain of plot twists. This is extremely helpful. Sometimes it's even more helpful than Pinterest research. /collective gasp/

15. Realize that what you are doing is HARD and that you are a fearfully and wonderfully made human who deserves a medal. 

Writing is hard. Writing super hard. There are days when we all feel awful about our abilities. But you know what? You have been created with the ability to create. And that's pretty awesome.

I'll end with this Pinterest gold-nugget:


You are amazing. Writing is hard. And we have exactly 8 and 1/2 weeks until July.

Have fun editing!
/braces self for collective groan/

How was camp for you? Did you meet your goal? Are you planning to do any future NaNo events? 
Do you have any 'survival tips' for future reference? 


  1. ahhhhhh. this is such a good list yesyes. much wisdom from ze Petra. very wise. XP and I totally agree - DONT THINK ABOUT EDITING WHEN YOURE WRITING. JUST ENJOY THE WRITING. SERIOUSLY. THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT EDITING IS WHEN YOURE EDITING. *grumbles and slumps away to edit*

  2. Oh my goodness, this was an /awesome/ list. I especially loved number eight; great example! :)

    1. Oh, and you say that Camp sends you plot dares? Oh my... I need some of those. I am feeling particularly uninspired in the plot area.

    2. Yes, in each daily care package, they include a dare!

  3. Congrats for winning NaNo! I won too with a goal of 30K. I try to heed most of these, except mail. I need to read the Camp mail more. XD Good tips!

    1. Thank you! Wow, GREAT job! 30K is awesome!!


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