Writing Sprints and Novel Edits: Tips For Camp Nanowrimo

Hello hello! It has been approximately 6 weeks since I last posted here, which means that I am doing a very bad job of keeping my New Year’s Resolution!

Nevertheless, I am back and (hopefully) more consistent than ever!

I took some time off from the blog for a few reasons, the main one being that I Never Have As Much Time To Read As I Would Like. When I do have time to read, I find myself in reading slumps, and it becomes a vicious cycle. I have had some more time to read lately, though, so I finally have some new reviews coming out soon! (As in, this weekend soon.)

The second, and probably biggest, reason why I haven’t been posting here is that I Finished The First Draft Of My Novel! I’ve been in a Revision Frenzy as I try to crank out my next draft before I travel to Maryland at the end of the month, so most of my spare time and mental energy has been dedicated to that project.

I started this book idea back in November for Nanowrimo. Well, actually, if I’m being honest I started this idea last summer while living in Maryland for a few weeks. I didn’t get the chance to actually work on it until Nanowrimo though, and it’s been a journey, to say the least. I began with a completely different story, finished the 50,000 word goal for the first time ever, but inevitably decided I needed to restart and tell a different story before I could tell the one I started with. That’s been consuming my life for months now, but I’m finally in a revision stage!

Which means I can start thinking about the sequel – the story I planned on telling originally. (I mean, I should probably finish revising this one before starting a new one but hey, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands lately.) I’m starting this new work in progress just in time for Camp Nanowrimo, which, I’d like to think, is the universe telling me that I’m on the right track here. I’ve spent the majority of this week planning and drafting this new piece – while still juggling the revisions on my first piece – which spurred the inspiration for this week’s post.

So, without further ado, here are my 5 most important tips for participating in a Nanowrimo event!

1 . Set realistic goals.

One reason why I like Camp Nanowrimo so much is that you set the goal. 50,000 words is too daunting? No problem, what about 25,000? What about putting in 100 hours over the course of a month toward your project? What about writing X pages? Camp Nanowrimo puts the goal setting in your court, which is both a blessing and a curse.

2. Challenge yourself, but don’t discourage yourself.

Nanowrimo events are all about setting the bar high and aiming for the impossible. Where else can you really write an entire first draft in a month? But even so, it can be tough to keep up with the suggested word count when you have other things – like work or class or life in general – getting in the way. Before you know it, it’s the 20th of the month and you’re only a quarter of the way to your goal. That’s okay! It took me six years before I finally completed Nanowrimo in full. Even if you end the month ten thousand steps beneath your word count, you’re still that much closer to your finished product. Even failure is something to be proud of here!

3. Don’t get caught up on the details.

Stop spending twenty minutes trying to decide whether or not you need a comma in that sentence. I took a creative writing class in college and my favorite discussion was about the Shitty First Draft. It doesn’t matter where you put that comma right now, just slap it down and move on. Minor details like that are for the revision period – for now, focus on getting the words out!

4. Set time aside for writing and /only/ writing.

My “writing time” usually consists of about 45 minutes of social media scrolling and 15 minutes of actual writing. Don’t do this. Put your phone on silent – or, better yet, turn it off completely – when you’re dedicating time to write. Even if it’s just for a half hour a day, setting time aside builds a habit!

5. When you want to give up, imagine getting to the finish line.

Starting a project like this isn’t easy. The urge to quite may come often – and if it does, that’s okay. But before you decide to step away from your novel idea and regroup, imagine how you’ll feel when you write the last line of your book. I teared up when I wrote mine. Imagine the feeling of relief, of pride you’ll feel when you see the finished thing, when you click save and close your laptop. It’ll be a pretty damn good feeling. Before you give up, think about that feeling and see if you can revisit your goal to make it more manageable. Even if you don’t finish your novel in a month, you’re going to finish your novel. Figure out the best way to get there!

To all my writer friends, are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo this year? How’s the first week going?

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