Officially, NaNoWriMo is during November. But NaNo also organises two more crazy writing months called Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. These camps are less official. For one, you get to decide on your own word count. Secondly, you don’t have to be working on a novel. You can use your word count for anything. You can also choose to be assigned to a cabin, where you’ll have your own chat with a handful of other NaNos to cheer you on.
This is a message to let you know Camp NaNo April is approaching, and also, I give you an overview of what surviving NaNo looks like.
Your writing buddy kindly lets you know NaNoWriMo is in a month. This will probably result in some swearing as this realisation sets in, after which you sarcastically thank her for reminding you.
Now that you know NaNo is approaching, panic. Do you have an idea? No? THINK OF AN IDEA. Do you have an idea now? Yes? Good.
Work out your idea. It helps to put some key elements on to paper, so you get an idea of where you want to go with your story. That way, you lessen your chances of hitting writer’s block when NaNo time is here.
Seriously, panic. NANO IS APPROACHING. HELP.
Ask yourself why the hell you’re doing this to yourself. This is usually accompanied with a lot of “Oh god I can’t do this” and “I CAN’T DO THIS”.
Think positive when you’re done panicking. NaNo is a good thing! You’ll plough through a month and suddenly have 50,000 words more than when you started! Without NaNo, it would take you months if not years to get to that number. You need the deadlines and the discipline. Repeat after me: NaNo is good.
Panic. NaNo is only a few days away. You’re slowly starting to lose it. On one hand, you’re really excited to get started. On the other hand, it’s daunting as hell.
So make sure you plan. Make sure you can set aside enough time every day to pen down some words. Make sure you know what your story is going to be about. Have an idea of what your characters will be like and what’s going to happen.
NANO IS HERE. This is where pantsers come in. Hello, pantsers! You have no idea what you’re doing, do you? But that’s okay. This is how you work. It’s how you write best. I’m sure you’ll be fine!
Alright, this is going great! The first week usually flies by like a breeze. You’re motivated, you’re enthusiastic, you’re inspired, and your story is not made of utter crap. Sure, it’s a little crap because you’re not allowed to edit, but no worries! You can edit all you want later.
HELL WEEK. Also known as the second week of NaNo, it is a week of slumps, and one where a lot of people decide to quit. Don’t quit! You can do this. Take a break. Take a day or a few days off. It’s okay. You can use up the buffer you have, or make up for it later. Things will get better as long as you commit and push through, I promise.
Oh god what am I doing? Okay, so it didn’t get better. And your story is officially crap. But hey! At least you’re still writing. That alone deserves a medal! Good for you for persevering.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get a shiny new idea for a different story about halfway through. DO NOT GIVE INTO IT. I repeat: do not give into it. Write down whatever you need to so you don’t forget the idea, but stick to your original manuscript. Don’t cheat on your manuscript.
Help. Make sure you have people around to talk to about your process! I find having a writing buddy really helps me. She evaluates the work I’ve put down and strokes my ego even if it’s less than admirable. It’s motivating. Seriously, talk to someone.
WORD RAAAGE. The final week is here! Go go go! You can do this! YOU CAN DO THIS. Keep writing like a mad man – like the first week, the last week is also usually one of big word counts and mad word dashes. The 50,000 finish line is right there!
Winning! Congratulations! Just like Charlie Sheen, you are now winning. I knew you had tiger blood in you! (I know, 2013 called, it wants its jokes back.)
Recuperate. Once you’ve finished your first draft, you’ll probably be drained, both physically as well as mentally. This is completely normal – you went through fierce battle for a month, and now you deserve some rest.
You need to put away your manuscript for a while now anyway, before you can start editing. So pat yourself on the back, reward yourself for making it through, and sleep for a week. You’ll need it.
When you think you’ve gotten over the trauma of NaNo, it’s time to slowly start editing your work. It’s probably very messy with large plot holes and hilarious spelling mistakes. No worries. Take your time, print it out, read it over, then start improving wherever you can. It’s polishing time!
It’s going well. You’re relaxed. There’s no stress, no deadlines, no pressure. You can work at your own pace. You did a good job. Not a worry in the world.
I hereby officially pledge to join Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2015. Should be fun, right? … RIGHT?