Packing for Camp (NaNoWriMo)

Hey all, Dani again.

I am always up for talking about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) any time of year, but especially in November, or in April or July –when Camp NaNoWriMo is held. I have written so many words and so many novels since I first tried NaNo back in November 2006. Since then it has become a huge part of my life.

In fact this year will mark my 9th year as a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo. I love planning meet-ups and write-ins and being available to talk to the Wrimos of my area and help them with their own writing projects.

NaNoWriMo in November is a writing challenge wherein participants attempt to write at least 50,000 words on a new novel during the 30 days of the month. And if you think of NaNoWriMo as the rule-abiding strict older sibling, then Camp NaNoWriMo is definitely the wild and free younger sibling who makes their own rules. For Camp you can write poetry, novels, short stories, screenplays, whatever. You can even work on editing for one of your writing projects. Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own word count goal, anything from 30 words and up to a million (and they do have guidelines for how many “words” go into an hour of editing, etc.)

I treat Camp about the same way as I do NaNo, planning events in my area and being available in my cabin and in my region’s Facebook page. There’s even themes for each year of Camp, and this year it is the NaNoWriMo Garden of Creativity. So, the shirt looks like this:


Mine arrived in the mail yesterday and I can’t wait to wear it. But now I’m reaching that period where I have to start preparing for the upcoming month of writing. That is the main focus of this post, to tell you about some of the ways I prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo, complete with some of my must-have items to assist in the writing process.

Obviously, having the new shirt is a must-have item for me. I feel like it is filled with creative energy and helps keep me motivated and focused on the task of writing a novel.

Other must-haves: a fresh notebook and a variety of writing utensils. I’m not always able to write at a computer or a desk, so having a notebook around really helps me to add to my word count. The variety of pencils and pens is helpful because I use a different type/color/etc depending on my mood or the mood of the scene. It’s possible that I’m just addicted to buying writing utensils.

Panera and Starbucks gift cards…these are helpful for when I schedule write-ins, especially since Panera is my regions go-to place. By stocking up on gift cards now, I don’t have to worry as much about having the money for food and caffeine when I should be worrying about my next scene or chapter.

New music playlist. I customize a soundtrack for each of my writing projects, and so I find it helpful in the days and weeks before Camp NaNoWriMo to select the songs I think will go along with the characters, the setting, the plot, or the mood of the story.

Finally, three or four books to read for pleasure. Now, I know this seems like an odd thing to include in a list for someone planning to spend the month writing, but sometimes when I’m stuck on a scene, I find it very useful to take a step back and let my mind wander somewhere else. Reading some other fantastical tale or epic adventure helps to restore my creative energies. Plus, I do have a goal to read at least 75 books this year and it feels wrong to skip a month (or technically three months since I participate in both Camp sessions as well as NaNoWriMo).

Some other people will include snacks on their list but not me. And another important must-have tool is a way to save your writing. I save mine in Scrivener, in my Dropbox, in Google Docs, and I even e-mail a copy of each chapter to myself, plus I print out a copy of each completed chapter. After a massive failure from my computer, my thumb drive, and my external hard drive all in the span of 48 hours, I do not take chances with my writing. I cannot stress enough how important it is to save your work regularly.

On the other end of my Camp preparation is gathering my cabin mates and then planning write-ins for my local region. For Camp NaNoWriMo you can be randomly organized into 12-member cabins, you can select a few friends who you might be placed with, or you can create a private cabin. I go the private cabin route and invite a few of the other Wrimos I’ve met along the way, as well as a few people from my local region. I find it helpful to be around other writers who I can trust to participate the whole month and who have been around to make the experience fun.

After all of that it’s just a matter of spending a lot of time thinking about the writing project I’ll be working on and trying to figure out what will happen. I will jot down brief vague notes about scenes that should happen or details about the characters, but I try not to be too specific because then it makes it more difficult for me to actually write the scene and the story.

Well, there you go…a bit about my preparations for Camp NaNoWriMo. I will possibly have writing updates through the month of April, so stay tuned. And if you would like more information, check out their web site here.

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