Camp NaNoWriMo: Guide to a Productive Month

I cannot believe the next session of Camp NaNoWriMo is right around the corner which means it is time to prep! Here is a quick guide to how to have the best Camp NaNoWriMo possible, and how to get the most out of it.

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Prep Your Writing for Each Week

At the end of each week, sit down and plan out what you are going to write for the next week. It can be a detailed or loose outline, but this is just a way for you to be more productive during the week. Knowing where you need to get to, and the steps you need to take to get there will make it a lot easier to write all the words. If you just wing it each day, you might get some writing done, but definitely not as much as you would if you know how to approach each day.

Focus on Maximizing Time Spent Writing Rather than Your Word Count

This is something I have recently realized and I am so, so glad I did. All these years I have been focused on getting the most words down possible each day, which meant some days I would only write anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour. I should have focused more on the amount of time I spend writing each day and you should too! Now instead of going into each day aiming for 2,000 words (which most days I don’t even hit), I focus more on trying to write for one whole hour each day, even if I somehow surpass 2,000 words. When I do this, I get a lot more writing done, and it takes more of the pressure off each day!

Develop Writing Triggers

It is the perfect time to start developing writing triggers to help you get into the mood for writing since Camp NaNoWriMo is still 12 days away. If you aren’t sure about what writing triggers are exactly, then here are some examples!

  • Drinks – Make a certain type of drink that you don’t have any other time except when you are writing…whether that is a different type of  flavored coffee, fruit infused water, or whatever you want but ONLY have it when it is writing time.
  • Candles – Find a scent that reminds you of your story and light it whenever you are writing. Maybe for a fantasy story you have a candle that smells like the forest, or for a contemporary you have one that smells sweet. Whatever reminds you of your story the most, use that!
  • Music – Making a writing playlist is a lot of fun (but don’t spend the time you should be writing making it), or a lot of authors have their playlists linked on their websites so you can check those out as well. Personally, I listen to the Hamilton Mixtape because it even has a song called “Wrote My Way Out” which always makes me want to write.

Let Yourself Take Days Off

It is really important to make sure you don’t burn yourself out so I recommend taking one entire day off each week. For me, I like to take Sundays off to spend those days relaxing and taking care of myself and you should too! It doesn’t have to be Sunday, choose whatever day works best for you, and spend the day replenishing your creativity and resting your mind. Here are some ideas of what you can do on your days off writing:

  • Reading
  • Self-care day
  • Watching movies
  • Working out
  • Journalling
  • Cleaning your work space

Find a New Work Space Each Week

Switch up the places you write each week to keep things fresh and inspiring. It can be a different place in your house or it can be somewhere outside of your house like the library, a coffee shop, or somewhere outside like a park. I don’t like writing in the same spot each writing session, and am always moving into different spots because it definitely stumps my creativity.

Those are five ways to have the most productive Camp NaNoWriMo, and I hope you enjoyed and found them helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, and social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

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After Camp NaNoWriMo: Now What?

It is about a week after Camp NaNoWriMo and now you are probably wondering what comes next. After an entire month of (trying) to write everyday, you are left with a bunch of words that string together a story. Depending on you and your project, your next step might be totally different from someone else, but here are a few ideas on what you can do next!

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What to Do Next: If You Don’t Have a Finished Product

If you are like me, you are only halfway through your project (maybe a bit less or more) and that means there are still words to be written. If that’s the case, here are some ideas on what to do next:

  • Keep Writing – This is what I will be doing, because I got about 40,000 words of my first draft written but a lot more to go. So I will be treating May just like another month of Camp NaNoWriMo. Depending on your writing schedule, try and write a certain amount of words every day or even a few times a week. Whatever works with your schedule.
  • Take a Break – Maybe you really burned yourself out during April and need a break to replenish that creative well. If that is the case, then do it! Take a few days, a week, or even a couple weeks off. However long it will take for you to get back in the writing groove and write some awesome words. Here are some quick ways to replenish your creative well:
    • Watch Movies + TV
    • READ
    • Journal
    • Exercise

What to Do Next: If You Are Feeling Uninspired With Your Project

This happens a lot. After devoting an entire month to a project, you might end up hating it a bit. Just remember that is completely okay and I am here with some quick tips on what you should do if this is the case:

  • Take a Break – Like I mentioned above, sometimes you just need to find your writing groove again. Spend some time away from your project and build up that love again while repairing yourself after a hard month of vigorous writing.
  • Revisit the Main Idea – Take a look at what your overall goal for the story was, because sometimes you can get carried away while writing and your story will become an entirely different thing. For better or worse. Maybe revisiting your main idea will spark that love and motivation for the project again, and you will be off on another writing journey.
  • Scrap It – MAKE SURE YOU ONLY DO THIS AFTER TRYING EVERY OTHER TIP, because only then will you be 100% if it is something you don’t want to spend anymore time on. Sometimes a story just isn’t for you to write and it can take a while to figure that out. Don’t beat yourself up if this is the case, and don’t feel like you wasted your time either. I can guarantee you came out as a better writer, even if you aren’t continuing on with the project.

What to Do Next: If You Have a Finished Draft

If you managed to finish an entire draft in a month, congratulations to you! That takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears but I hope it was worth it in the end. Here are some things you can do next:

  • Take a Break – Yep, basically after working on any project consider taking a break. I went into enough detail already about taking breaks so do I really need to go over it again? No.
  • Start Another Draft – Maybe you only finished draft one, or draft three but still think your story could use another go. If that is the case, get writing! Work on creating a more concrete and all-around better story that you love, and that you can only create by writing it a ridiculous amount of times.
  • Edit – So maybe this was your final draft and you are ready to do some editing. Fun times right? Mmm, maybe, but not usually. Picking apart your story is hard, so maybe after going through it a few times consider getting a friend, a critique partner, or even a professional to look at it.
  • Submit to Contests/Fellowships/Literary Magazines – Personally, I like to submit short stories and whatnot to contests and other places. If you have a polished project, whether it is a novel or short story, consider sending it somewhere. Even if you don’t place or get it published, you can usually score some good feedback!
  • Querying – I am no expert at querying because I have never finished a novel that I was proud of, let alone good enough to query to agents, but maybe this is your next step. If that is the case, that is really exciting! Since I know nothing about querying, consider checking doing some research whether that is through google, books, AuthorTubers, etc.

That is all for this blog post and I hope it was somewhat helpful. Don’t forget to keep writing, oh, and also check out some of my previous blog post and follow me on social media 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 4: Finding Value in Your Work

Week 4 is upon us, which for most of us means we have long lost that initial excitement of starting a new project. You may be feeling unmotivated whenever you think about sitting down to write, and may feel like the words that are coming out aren’t good. And you are probably right, they most likely aren’t good but that is the point of drafting! Here are a few tips to see the value in your work again, and gain back that motivation to power through the last seven days of Camp NaNoWriMo:

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  • Remind Yourself That This is Draft One – For most of us, this is draft one of our projects and because of that, the words are just there as a placeholder until you can think of better ones. The point of a first draft is to word vomit all your ideas and characters onto a document, and then later on you can come in with a broom and dustpan. But you can only do that if the words start out bad so get out those words!
  • Remember Every Writer Starts Out in the Same Boat – Even the most successful writers start with bad first drafts, it is just a given. Nobody has a clean first draft, unless you go back and edit everything you write but that would take forever so just keep going!
  • All Stories Matter – Don’t compare your story to someone else’s because all stories are valid and deserve to be told. Each story will be different and have a different effect on people, so don’t go comparing your story to Harry Potter just because it is a fantasy book that has magic in it! You will only end up feeling bad about your work and we don’t want that.
  • Enjoy the Process – When it comes to writing, you have to write with the present in mind, not the future. If you are writing to become a “New York Bestselling Author” then you are not writing for the right reasons, and will be most likely to only disappoint yourself. Enjoy the process of writing your own, original story, and fall in love with it!
  • Just Keep Writing – Don’t go back and edit anything, just keep writing. Keep the momentum flowing and when you finally write that last page your story, it will feel like a massive accomplishment, because it is! So work towards that rather than a fancy title like “NY Bestselling Author”. How many people can say they have finished an entire novel? Odds are not many so let that be your goal.

That is all for this Camp NaNoWriMo Week 4 post and I hope you enjoyed! I will have a week 5 one up next week so stayed tuned for that. Don’t forget to check out all the blog posts linked down below for more bookish-writing related content, and also follow me on social media!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

Other Camp NaNo Posts: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Using Your Cabin

The great part about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you are placed in a cabin with a group of writers all going through the same struggles and hardships as you. If you don’t usually speak to people about your writing, whether that is because your town/city doesn’t offer many opportunities for that or because you are just shy, this is the perfect opportunity so take advantage of it.

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Tips for Making the Most of Your Cabin:

  • Introduce Yourself – This is obvious, but it is important to introduce yourself to your virtual cabin. Say your name and share a bit on what you are working on, and maybe throw in some struggles you usually have when it comes to your writing. You will be surprised by how many people will respond and begin introducing themselves as well!
  • Ask for Advice – A lot of your cabin members have most likely been writing for a long time, so ask for some advice! Maybe you need some help on flushing out your characters, or how to escape the cold, dead hands of writer’s block. Whatever you need there is a good chance someone in your cabin has an answer.
  • Motivate Each Other – There will definitely be days where you are not motivated to write, and just the thought of sitting down at your computer sounds draining. Guess what, you have about a dozen or so people at your fingertips if you are in need of some pep talks! And when someone else is in need of some motivation in your cabin, make sure you are there to offer some as well. I make sure I actively check out the chat room of my cabin because I want to be there for my cabin mates, and it is nice to always have the favour returned.

I know this blog post was a bit short, but I really wanted to emphasize on the importance of your cabin before Camp NaNoWriMo is over because boy, is it flying by. Now that you are done reading this, google “Camp NaNoWriMo”, log in and start up the chat in your cabin! Apply the 3 tips I gave above and make the most of your cabin while you have it. Also, don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below, and I hope you enjoyed 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

Other Camp NaNo Posts: My Survival Writing Kit, Catching Up

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How To: Develop Healthy Writing Habits

When writing, it is important to develop habits that benefit you physically and mentally. Sometimes we get in the habit of developing unhealthy habits though, which is why you should probably sit down, read this blog post, and figure out how to apply these tips to your life. I really hope this will help and I hope you enjoy!

What Are Some Unhealthy Writing Habits?

  • Staying Up Too Late or Too Early Every Day Writing
  • Beating Yourself Up For Not Meeting Your Daily Word Goal
  • Setting Writing Goals That Are Way Out of Reach
  • Not Taking Breaks

What Are Some Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Writing During Your Prime Time, But Also Getting 7-8 Hours of Sleep
  • Setting Realistic Daily Word Counts and Overall Writing Goals
  • Taking Breaks Every 25-60 minutes for 5-10 minutes
  • Allowing Yourself to Take a Day Off If Your Mind and Body Needs It!

How Can YOU Develop These Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Set Up a Writing Schedule That Works Around Your Sleep Schedule – Sleep is so important because if you don’t get enough it will be really hard to function the next day. Find out what times work best for you and your creative flow, but make sure it works out that you are still getting a decent sleep.
  • Create SMART Goals – SMART (Specific – Measurable – Agreed upon – Realistic – Time Based) goals are what format you should be looking to whenever you make goals. These are the most productive goals because you should develop an action plan to tackle these realistic goals, and make those steps towards that goal SMART goals as well. For example, if your goal is to write 30,000 words by the end of the month you have already created half of a SMART goal. You have your pretty realistic goal and a deadline. Now you just need to figure out how many words per day you need to write, and I also recommend having a little reward for you at the end if you accomplish it.
  • Take Breaks – I recommend timing your writing sessions in what feels best for you. For example, maybe you work better in shorter sprints so set timers for every 20-30 minutes and then take a 5 minute break at the end of each short sprint and repeat that until you are done for the day. If you like writing for longer sprints, maybe one hour at a time, then take about 10 minute breaks. You don’t want to burn out and your fingers and brain do need a short break every so often.
  • If You Write Every Day, Take A Day Off Every Once and a While – I don’t usually write everyday (except I try during Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo) because I am also a full time student, but when I do, I find myself really needing a day off every once and a while. Sometimes I will take every second Sunday off, which is a day I reserve for doing school work and blogging and other projects other than whatever I am currently working on. If that sounds appealing to you, try it and don’t feel guilty about taking that much needed day off!

Now, to develop these habits I recommend applying them to your everyday life for at least a week straight because if you do it only every once and a while, you will not develop these habits. It may be a hard week, but it will be worth it once these habits become part of your writing routine!

Those are some ways to develop healthy writing habits and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below, and don’t forget to keep writing 🙂

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Catching Up

Other Writing Blog Posts: Things All Aspiring Writers Should  Do, Balancing Multiple Writing Projects 

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Catching Up

Welcome to week 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo, the week where most writers lose the initial excitement of their project and struggle to put words on the page! Or were you already there? Personally, I haven’t struggled with this as much as I usually would, but I do know a lot of people who have so this blog post is for you! I wanted to give a few of my tips for what I do when I need to catch up on my words, and hopefully any of you in need of this will find it help 🙂

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  • Stretch Your Daily Word Count A Bit – By this, I do not mean add like 1000 words to your daily word count, but maybe a few hundred. Adding two or even three hundred a day will make a massive difference in the end, and might even allow you to fully catch up within a week or two. Try this if the next tip sounds a little daunting to you, because I can wholeheartedly confirm that this will help.
  • Writing Marathon!!! – So if you have a day where you a lot of free time, I recommend trying to write as much as you can. Make sure you give yourself a few breaks here and there, but if you have the time, spend a couple hours just writing. You will be amazed by how much you can get done, and it might be enough to fully catch up and even get a bit ahead. All depending on how far behind you are of course!
  • Remember, Do Not Stress About It! – Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun, personal challenge to see how much you can get done. I mean, that is why you set your own goal! If you are falling behind, and don’t know if you will catch up, don’t stress about that number at the bottom of your WIP because you are getting a lot more done than you would if you weren’t participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. Whether you get some words on the page each day or not, it isn’t the end of the world.
  • Freewrite It – Maybe the reason you are behind might not be because you skipped a few days, but because the words just aren’t coming. If this is the case, maybe try and loosen your grip on your outline and just go with the flow. Write what feels right, even if it doesn’t make sense next to your outline or your original outcome of your story. It will get your creativity flowing, and remember, the first draft is just you word vomiting anyways, so it doesn’t have to make sense!

Those are a few tips on how to catch up if you have fallen behind in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked before for more writing and reading related content 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

Welcome to week 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo! It is day 2 and hopefully you have begun writing and are hitting your daily goals. If not, that’s okay too because it’s the thought that counts, right? Today I wanted to share with you my Camp NaNo survival kit, a kit of all the things I personally need to have with me when I sit down to write. Don’t forget to comment below what your survival kit has in it because I would love to know!

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Green Tea

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I drink green tea religiously so it is a necessity to have next to me when I am writing. It keeps me awake and energized and it gets me into the mindset that it is writing time! Having a designated drink or snack will really help develop a writing routine, or even just drinking or eating something you love will get you excited to sit down and write.

My Outline

This is something that everyone needs next to them. Whether it is in a notebook or on your laptop make sure your outline is accessible in case you need to refer back to something while writing. Having it next to you means it will take less time out of your writing session to remember that character’s cat’s name or what day of the week it is in your story. Personally my outline is very research heavy and the research includes a lot of complicated, weird names so I find myself referring to my notebook a lot.

NaNoWriMo Word Sprint

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I only use these during Camp NaNo, but I find it really helpful and wish they did writing sprints throughout the year. These sprints are found on the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints Twitter page here  and are a fun way to do anywhere from 5-60 minute word sprints and get all the words down! It is also fun to connect with other writers and go over what our word counts were and what we are writing.

My Favourite Book

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Having a book I admire so much next to me just motivates me to keep writing and going. Currently that book is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (or really any book by Cassandra Clare) because it has been my favourite book since it came out, as the first book, Lady Midnight, had been before. Try this out and you will be surprised by how motivated you feel whenever you get stumped on a scene or lose momentum but then  look at that favourite book of  yours and suddenly you are ready to go.

Those are the items in my Camp NaNo survival kit and I hope you enjoyed! Let me know how your Camp NaNo journey is going if you are participating, and if you aren’t then what are you working on? Don’t forget to check out the links to some blog posts below!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

Camp NaNo Prep Posts: Outlining Tips, Creating Characters, Research

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #3

Welcome to week 3 of prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018! Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about researching when outlining because it is a really important part of the outlining process, more so for some than others. I know for me, my current WIP requires a lot of research and often I am asking myself these two questions: what do I really need to research? and how much is too much research?

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When it comes to researching, I recommend researching as much as you can. Do as much as you think is necessary and even a little more. It is important to know more than your readers will, so even if you don’t plan on injecting every bit of this research onto the page, it can come in handy later on. Okay, now onto the first question!

What will I really need to research?

This question depends on what kind of research you are doing. If you are researching an entirely different civilization for your book, it is pretty obvious that you will need to know what they wore, what they ate, what their government was like, what the common day looked like for them…basic things that we know about ourselves. For example, maybe you want to write a book that takes place during Ancient Greece and you are focusing on Greek mythology. Clearly you will need to research everything about the gods and the rich myths and legends that come with this ancient civilization, but it is also important that you know what they ate and what they wore and maybe even throw in a few common phrases people would say. Every little thing you throw in will add to the authenticity of your story and make it that much better. However, if you are not researching a civilization but maybe you need to know about a certain job like a scientist, that means it will be handy to know what kind of scientist they are, their pay, their hours, their duties, etc.

How much research is too much research?

The next question might be the most important one because while I just said above to research a lot, and that is true, but there is researching a lot and than there is researching too much. You should take the time to carefully research what you need to but don’t let the research take too much time away from the actual writing of your story. For me, I am giving myself 3 weeks to research (already 1 1/2 weeks in) and then wherever I am at, I need to stop and write. By the end of 3 weeks I should know enough about what I researched to actually start on my story, thus not allowing me any excuses. I recommend setting yourself a time span like this, and if you don’t feel it is enough time by the end of it, don’t worry, write anyways. You can research along the way or just blast through your first draft and research more afterwards for your second draft. The point is, don’t let researching get in the way of you writing, especially with something like Camp NaNoWriMo!

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That is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

Last week I went over some brief tips on outlining your novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and now we are going to dive a little more into that, but focusing on characters! Characters are incredibly important to any story…if they are done well. Here are some tips to creating three dimensional, fleshed out characters!

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Creating Characters 101

  • Use Real People for Inspiration – It is really helpful when starting out to use real people to help you with your character sketch. As you go on, you’ll start adding new pieces that you came up with yourself, but until then it is like starting off with a template!
  • Make Them Diverse! – Make every character different. In the real world everyone has different skin colour, hair colour, voices, personalities…so reflect that in your characters. Having a diverse cast of characters not only makes your story more realistic, but it allows readers  to connect with them easier because they will see themselves in one or more of your characters.
  • Fears? Ambitions? Those Are Important – I have fears and ambitions, and so do you. If we both do that means ALL your characters do as well. Make sure you write this down, along with all these others tips, because sometimes we think we know what our characters fear or what they strive for, but it is important to actually write it down. You can use this in your story to bring more depth to your character and make them actually feel real.
  • Give EVERY Character a History – Everyone lives a different life, and just because a character isn’t as important to the story as the main character, they still deserve their own story. It also makes them easier to write because if they have a backstory you get to know them better. Maybe they were orphaned at a young age and moved around from house to house which is why they don’t get attached easily…whatever you feel is right for that character but just create it!
  • Know What Will Make or Break Them – Everyone has something that will make or break them. By this I mean we all have something that would make us the happiest person on the Earth, but also things that would deeply hurt us. Characters have this too! Something can bring them to the verge of breaking (or the happier alternative) and you can use that and bend it at your will throughout the story.
  • Know Their Motive – Again, whether they are the main character or a side character, it is so important to know what is motivating them to do whatever it is they are doing in your story. Just like how every person has some driving force in their life, like maybe they want to be a musician. If that is what their motive is at the moment then that means they will do things in order to move forward like buy an instrument and take lessons. It is the same with your characters, especially your main character. Something is motivating them and you need to know what.
  • Write in that Character’s Perspective – Even if you don’t plan on writing in that character’s POV, pull out a journal and just freewrite as that character. Write what their usual day looks like, write about them going on a walk…just writing in their perspective will make you understand them better and that will really show when you introduce them in your short story, novel, etc.

Wow that was a lot longer than I expected but hopefully it was helpful! It is so important to know as much as you can about your characters, but also your entire story and world before diving head first into Camp NaNoWriMo because otherwise you will hit some major roadblocks along the way.

Anyways, that is all for this Camp NaNo prep post and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update!

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo

Wow, it is already that time of the year…it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time! April is just around the corner so it is time to start prepping your outline or whatever it is you need to do in order to participate in the first round of Camp NaNoWriMo. In this post I will be giving some tips when it comes to writing out your outline, probably the most important part of writing a novel.

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Tips for Outlining:

When it comes to outlining my biggest tip is to not stress too much about, because I know that when I outline, I get caught up in making it perfect. It is important to make sure you get everything in your head out on paper so that you know what to write, but it is also important to not get caught up in it. Outline what you need to outline and don’t go overboard. You have until April 1st to outline and if you start now, you will be more than ready for Camp NaNo!

  • Know Your Theme + Thesis – This is really important because if you don’t know the point of you story and what you are trying to convey, then it will be difficult to write it well. When it is polished enough to be read by others, having a clear theme and thesis will make it easier to understand not just for you, but for everyone.
  • Secondary Characters – If you are having trouble coming up with events for your story, make sure your secondary characters are fleshed out just as well as your main characters. Having detailed and 3D secondary characters will open up the possibility of using your secondary characters’ motives as events that take place later in the story. Maybe they are hiding something dark that will change the course of your other characters’ lives…the possibilities are endless! The point is, having as many options for events to take place in your story will make outlining a lot easier.
  • Know More Than You Show – When it comes to every aspect of a story (world, characters, plot, etc) YOU, as the writer, should always know the most. Have backgrounds of all your characters, and the history of your world, even if most of it will not make it on to your pages, it will allow you to write a better, and more in depth story.

Remember, the more you plan and outline, the smoother your Camp NaNo experience will be. I used to think I could just pants stories (meaning I could just sit down with an idea and write thousands and thousands of words about it without a problem) but now that I have been in the writing world for a while longer, I realize that I don’t want to spiral down that hole of unfinished stories. So, make sure you plan and plan a lot!

That is all for this Camp NaNo prep post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: My Writing Bullet Journal!

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