The Steps to Surviving NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNo Is Here!)

Posted March 13, 2015 by Inge in Like A Writing Desk // Writerly Things / 23 Comments

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.

Before NaNoWriMo

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.

During NaNoWriMo

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.)

After NaNoWriMo

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?

Are you joining too? Are you a planner or a pantser?

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23 responses to “The Steps to Surviving NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNo Is Here!)

  1. Haha I hope you have a lot of fun with it! I only really have time to do this once a year, and I typically choose November to do it. Which I did. But reading this post makes me remember I really need to pull up that novel and work on it again because I didn’t finish it after 50,000 words… didn’t even get a quarter of the way through xD So I should get back to working on that one! I hope this goes well. Loved the prep post ^^

    • Haha, it’s amazing how much your writing slows down after NaNo ends. I really need these three months of writing, because I barely get anything done when it’s not NaNo. I’m hopeless. Thanks!

  2. Aly Locatelli

    Hahaha, we panic and swear a lot and cry. But it’s okay, I’ve got your back girl!

    Also, plan? PLAN?! Dude, come on. Don’t make me laugh.

  3. YAY FOR WRITING AND NANOS! I was so in love with the November version I soooo need to do April and I’m half signed up (like you know, lol) BUT I JUST LOST MY IDEA. I mean, I still have it, but I don’t know if ti’s reading. *wails* The idea I’m really excited about is only half hatched. 0_0 I DOOON KNOW WHAT TO DO.

    • THINK QUICK. And seriously, make a project already. I need to add you to our cabin so you can outdo everyone by finishing in a week. I’m actually doubting as well. I’ve been set to do a certain story for months, only last week I had SHINY NEW IDEA syndrome and now I’m.. confused.

  4. I’m totally a pantser. I suck at working out plots that are actually, you know, going somewhere and make SENSE. I’m planning to join in November because that’s reasonably far away so I don’t have to start panicking already. It’s on my list of goals and everything. I’m expecting to actually get some writing done then, because without a deadline I’m failing miserably. I did write a page yesterday, so yay? That said, I’m writing chapter 3 and I already have to completely rewrite chapter 1, so… did I mention I’m a pantser? I should probably get me one of these writing buddies, but then I’d have to let someone read my unedited stuff… I’m not sure I want to be judged by that. 😀

    • Dude I absolutely suck when NaNo’s not around – I need the deadline to actually get some work done. I get nothing done outside of NaNo. Well, maybe a bit of editing here and there, but actual writing? Very, very little. Which is kind of bad. Just remember that everyone’s unedited stuff is awful! Except for my writing buddy’s, apparently.

  5. This will be my first time participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. I already finally participated in November 2014 NaNoWriMo for the first time since I first learned of this event. And happily completed the required 50K, however I’m still working on that project, planning on finishing by the end of this month (Aly’s been hearing about it nonstop from me rofl). I plan on doing two novellas (one officially documented, and another on the side, maybe 2 depending on how it goes).

    It’s going to be one hell of a crazy ride. ;P

    I’m excited. <3

    • Oh it’s definitely one hell of a ride! I did my first Camp NaNo last yea in July and it was a mad house, but also a lot of fun, and I wrote my very first novel! I’m glad to have you in our cabin, should be a lot of fun!

  6. I heard of NaNo WriMo last year, although i wasn’t able to participate in it last year! I hoping to participate in Camp NaNo WriMo this year though! As I am in school, It’s a little hard for me to get any time here, not doing homework. But I’m going to try very hard. This will be a hell of a journey, but I’m prepared. 🙂

  7. JB

    I did Camp and Nano last year and loved them both! I think I’m going to use Camp this year to work out draft 2 of last year’s camp novel. (It needs an overhaul.) I love knowing I’m not alone when I’m writing!

  8. I’ve done NaNoWriMo for…*logs into account* 4 years! If I did it this year it would be my 5th, which is kind of crazy considering that means I started at 13 lol. I only did one year of Camp NaNoWriMo and it was a lot of fun (I like the cabin aspect), but I didn’t keep going because my cabin wasn’t *that* great when it came to support. 🙁 I didn’t get past 5k in 2014 because I just wasn’t motivated to do it. I’m not sure NaNoWriMo and I really click the way it’s supposed to. As much as I like the idea of spewing 50,000 words in a month, I can’t write everyday, and I can’t write ~1,500 words everyday. I’m just such a sporadic writer. Some days I can write 5,000+ and other days I can only write 500. So NaNoWriMo puts a lot of pressure on me, which only makes writing harder. 🙁

    I hope you have a great time this year though! These tips were all spot on and perfect. XD The 2nd week of NaNo is definitely the “slump week,” usually because you’re getting to the less-fun parts of your novel and the less-fun parts of the month and it hits you that you’re not even close to being finished. I look forward to your status updates and GOOD LUCK!! (sorry this was so INCREDIBLY long winded)

    • Thank you for commenting, Sydney! Wow, you are definitely an experienced NaNo’er, even if you don’t always see eye to eye. There are definitely certain types of writers, and sometimes it doesn’t work for you. I like NaNo because it gives me that kick in the butt that I need, otherwise I’ll be lazy and procrastinate.

  9. I haven’t written very often at all since NaNoWriMo ended, so I feel like I should begin writing daily again once April starts. Still not sure I’m going to participate, since I’ve also said that for every other month this year, but maybe! I have two ideas that I should really just start writing already.

    • I haven’t written a lot either >.> I’ve done a bit of editing, but also not as much as I should have done. It’s kind of bad, haha. I get so lazy once NaNo ends. Good luck, Katie! Let me know how you fare. 🙂

      • I tried to edit and then decided that I hated the story, so I gave up LOL

        I don’t think I’ll be doing Camp NaNo officially, but I am trying to get back into writing just the same 🙂

  10. Yay for Camp NaNoWriMo! I’m doing a complete rewrite of my novel this year so I’m currently in the throes of major plotting. I’m a huge plotter, and it really helps me to know where my story is going so I don’t end up with a bunch of word vomit at the end of the month. I might try for 50k this year. Maybe…

    • Oh, a rewrite? Exciting stuff! I plotted my first novel (Camp NaNo last July) like mad as well, mostly because it was an idea I’d had for years, and also because I’d tried to write it before and failed. It helped me a lot, because you don’t really get those slumps where you don’t know what to write. I should really start preparing… Good luck!

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