The Beginner’s Guide To Writing A Lot. – Camp NaNoWriMo

First timers: Listen up

I’m doing a little series the first week on April to go further in depth on some tips and stuff but I saw a post on my dash and I was instantly inspired to write something because you can never have to many opinions. (*clears throat* ‘hypocrite,’ I murmur to myself.)

Camp NaNo isn’t about writing 50k, so you can set your own goal… blah, blah, blah. I’m working on 65k this April – a lot, I know, but it’s because I’m rewriting my NaNoWriMo novel. The stuff I’ll be talking about are things I used to write 51.8k my first NaNoWriMo, last November, and I also used them the time I, stupidly, wrote 9.5k overnight to hit a deadline (‘I do not recommend this.  Do not try this at home kids – and young-at-heart adults,’ I let out a small sigh before continuing.).

Planning and Outlining?

A word of advice for whenever you’re doing some sort of ‘write a million words in a day’ challenge: even if you’re a planner, do not plan or outline heavily, especially if it’s your first time. ‘Why?’ you may ask, thinking that outlining will make your job easier.

The first draft doesn’t need to have any super discernible plot, at the least it needs to be a series of scenes that connect to each other with some sort of shaky arc. At most it needs to be a series of scenes that connect together with a trembling arc. You can fix it in a couple centuries when you’re done cringing at it.

When you’re writing quickly, trying to keep at least some what in line with your outline wastes precious time and is really difficult. Plus, you’ve spent millions of hours working on what you want your story to look like and it’s hard to part from something that took so long. ‘

NaNoWriMo was the first time I kind of pantsed in a long time, it felt weird but I learned a lot about myself as a writer and I figured out how to let my characters tell their own stories. I used a tiny outline, meaning: I had an idea of what I wanted for my characters in the end, a few scene ideas in order, and I knew what I wanted the ending to look like. The basics.

Number One

First of all, get some sort of word count progress thingie-ma-jig, the one that NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo have is adequate but it’s not really customizable.

We want top of the line.

If you don’t mind spending a few bucks I recommend using Pacemaker (I think you get like two custom plans for free), and if you’re looking for completely free beta website, I recommend myWriteClub.

I go into all the details, pros and cons here. (x)

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Second, once you get into the head space, don’t stop writing. Stock up on diapers (This is a joke, but I might actually do this), food, water, caffeine, plenty of i-wrote-3-words-time-to-treat-myself books, and noise canceling earphones for those of us with siblings or kids (’It’s ok,’ I say with a nervous chuckle. ‘In theory, there’s only so much damage they can do.’).

Your fingers may scream protest. Keep writing.

Your fingers may give up. Become really good at dictating.

 

Number Three

Third, don’t write every day. Yes, it’s recommended to write 1667 – or something like that – every day do finish with 50k, but you do want time to let your story rest and let your mind rest. You won’t finish if you wear yourself out.

With this being said, set your own word count goals: the great thing about Pacemaker, was that I could set up a custom schedule where I only had to write a couple hundred on some days and other days I could push myself, plus the plan adjusted itself based on what I wrote. Some days I wrote 5k, other days I stared at the screen until tears rolled down my cheeks. Turns out technology hasn’t advanced enough for

Number Four

Four, please have an idea of what you’re writing before hand. I didn’t figure out what I was going to do until 3 hours before NaNo started. Do not recommend.

You can change the plot as much as you want as you’re writing but you’ll get started much faster if you have an idea in mind.

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Number Five

Five, don’t delete words.

You. are. forbidden. to. delete. words.

 

Number Six

Six, group sprints will save your life and your sanity. myWriteClub has an awesome sprinting software set up, so does NaNoWriMo (I believe you can use it all year round now). Camp NaNo does not (*cries in writing*). The competition will change your life, your story plot, and almost crash your laptop (don’t sprint on a phone.) – but you’ll hit your word count goal in no time at all.

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Seven, Pinterest and Instagram are awesome social platforms but this month we’re going to be asocial.

You’ll probably regret your social media celibacy, but it’s worth it I promise (It’s really not.).

Number Eight

Eight, turn off spell check. (You may also want to turn off your kids/siblings, your phone, your significant other, and your life in general.) Those red squiggly lines are insignificant, spelling doesn’t actually exist.sherlock_gif1.gif

When you’ve got spell check on, it’s 100% guaranteed (or your money back. jk, I’m almost broke.) that you’ll spend about 5 hours a day correcting your spelling mistakes from your speed writing sessions which will then turn into 10 hours of correcting grammar, and then you’ll have wasted the entire month editing your story.

Number Nine

Nine, if you can: write at night. Your inhibitions will be lowered, your mind will be blessedly full, and your fingers will type. The best part: your inner editor is too exhausted from stressing you out during the day, so you can writer whatever you want, however badly you want.

Number Ten

Dear old number ten: enjoy the experience. Whether you write 500 words or you write 12 million, it was a learning experience and you grew as a writer. Whether it’s your fourth time or you’ve being doing this since the very first year, it’s brand new. Squeaky clean.

You’re writing a new, albeit sloppy, part of your history.

Enjoy it.

Your editing self will kill you later.

Last But Not Least…

Also, disregard everything I’ve said here and go wild: live and learn, am I right?

I’ll also be doing daily and weekly updates like I did during NaNoWriMo, so follow my personal blog for those. If you don’t have wordpress, you can follow via email.

Stay Safe.

Ellie

Random extra tip (eleven for the price of ten): make your playlist before, you will save so much time and effort.

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