Glorious Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for you newbies)! On April first, I will join the global hordes of people who disappear for an entire month behind their laptops and furiously plug away at self-determined word counts.
I’ve done Camp NaNo before and achieved my word goal, but it was definitely an experience that I learned from. I hadn’t planned, I hadn’t prepared and I hadn’t done much around the house to get myself organized. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. This time, I’m going to be ready.
1. Cook Meals in Advance
Here’s the thing about a major writing challenge, other things have to drop off your to-do list. It’s just the way it is, unless you’re Wonder Woman – in which case, I’d like to borrow your lasso. I have furiously been planning meals and freezing soups (an easy go-to) to avoid as many trips to the grocery store as humanly possible.
2. Clean Your House
Remember what it was like the week before final exams? Your room would be messy, so instead of ignoring it and doing what you should have been doing and studying, you procrastinated by cleaning as if Kim and Aggie from How Clean Is Your House? were going to visit? Yeah… easiest way to confront that is to get your house nice and tidy in advance.
3. Do Core Exercises
Weird, right? Why would you need a strong core in order to sit at a computer for hours on end? Scratch that… it makes perfect sense. Writers do series damage to our bodies. We hunch over, furrow our brows and sit cross-legged. No wonder I’m beginning to turn into a twenty-something hunchback. For me, Dead Bugs are the best exercise to strengthen my core. If you suffer from back issues, ignore ANYONE that tells you planks are key. Hear me now, PLANKS ARE THE DEVIL if you have lower back pain. Dead bugs may not look challenging, but believe me you’ll reap the results.
4. Pre-schedule Blog Posts
Many writers are also bloggers. I know I adore blogging, but I also know how time consuming it can be. For non-bloggers, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for me to write a single post depending on how much research I need to do, how free-flowing the writing is on a particular day and how easy it is to find just the right picture. And I post three times a week. That’s twelve posts in a month. That’s 24 hours of Camp NaNo time gone. Huh… and I wonder why it takes me so long to write a damn book. I’m not saying that I’m perfect and have prescheduled the entire month of April, but I will at least done the first two weeks to give myself a head start with my word count without getting stressed about other obligations.
5. Schedule Writing Days or Meet Ups
For some people, writing every day is already a habit. I admire those people. For me, Monday to Friday I work hard and am pretty beat by the end of a day. Why don’t you get up earlier and write, you might ask. Nothing happens before two cups of coffee. NOTHING. As such, I’ve scheduled out major blocks of time on the weekends in April to do mass chunks of writing. Some are with fellow writing friends and some are just by myself where I plan to write in a coffee shop, at the library or just generally somewhere outside of my home. I get distracted easily.
6. Try Not to Bring Work Home With You
What… we have day jobs? Oh yeah… those things. Kidding! I’m majorly guilty of both bringing my work home physically and of bringing it home emotionally. There are times when someone says something or did something and I just can’t let it go. It bugs me all night. If there were ever a time to leave it at work April is the month to do so. Keep an eye on your work commitments and make sure you’re on track to meet your deadlines without doing overtime. If you aren’t going to meet them, March is the month to throw in the extra hours. On the emotional side, it’s always a good idea to leave any negativity at work, Camp NaNo or otherwise. Work-life balance doesn’t just happen, you have to create it.
7. Plan for Success
If you’re a pantser, perhaps this is less relevant for you, but for many writers out there, sitting with a blank page in front of you can be terrifying. If I did nothing in the month of March to prepare for April, it would be a disaster. Who needs that kind of unnecessary stress? Instead, I created a rough work plan for the month. I’m focusing April on a nonfiction project, and to make the most effective use of my time, I created the table of contents and an outline of what I’d work on and when. I plan work on the chapters that I have the most inspiration for now, in the vague hope that as the writing begins to flow, my passion for other chapters will begin to bubble.
These are the seven methods that I’m going to implement. What about you? Have you ever done Camp NaNo? What worked for you and what didn’t?
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