Things I Learned From Draft One

Writing the first draft of this specific project taught me a LOT, and I wanted to share those things in a blog post because while some lessons might be the same, many will also be different.

1. Outlining is a LONG, Hard Process

I always knew outlining was a process obviously, and I knew it took time and motivation, however I realized spending about a month and a half of taking some time each day to work on it, was not enough. I am still adding and changing things to my outline for draft two. I am still having to research things to fill the holes that I should have filled in my outline, but haven’t. Make sure you determine your world, its rules, everyday life, your characters goals and motivation, magic system (if there is one) and anything else you can think of. My problem is that I will outline and then think I researched and wrote out every important thing for my story, but then realize I was missing so many key points later on. I recommend searching outlining tips or outlining worksheets online to help you gather all the main and minor ideas you need to have.

2. Just Because Your First Draft Sucks, Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad

Yeah, your first draft 100% sucks. Words are being thrown left and right, some with meaning some without, but that is okay. Just because you feel as if you word vomited about seventy thousand words onto a document, doesn’t mean the essence of the story is bad. Nobody is a great first writer, trust me. The books we read required dozens and dozens of revisions and edits from not only the author but their editor too. You can’t expect to pump out a clean first draft in one go because that it is the craft of writing. Every time you work on it, it gets a bit cleaner, and slowly, you polish it enough to see that the story hidden behind all those words was never that bad in the first place.

3. Read The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

Honestly, this book has been my savior when it comes to trying to finish outlining my story for draft three. It has everything you ever need to know and more, and will help you see storytelling in a different way. You take away so many valuable tips, tricks, and ideas from this book, and I cannot recommend it enough. I wouldn’t recommend investing in many writing craft books, but this is one of them! Little tip though, I would recommend not using it for first drafts but just knowing you will be using it for future draft will take some stress off, trust me.

4. Focusing on Hours Spent Writing Is More Beneficial Than “Words Written”

I promise you that this is SUPER important. You will get so much more done if you aim to spend an hour or maybe even two hours writing each day, instead of focusing on that pesty little word count tracker at the bottom of your page. I do three thirty minute sprints throughout the morning each day, and all I focus on is writing for that entire thirty minutes, or even writing a bit past. There has only been one or two times I have not reached 1000 words each half hour writing sprint, but other than that, this method has worked wonders for me.

5. Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo Are Excellent Times to Start Your First Draft

Seriously though, if you happen to be close to Camp NaNoWriMo (an online writing event where you try to write as much as you can in one month – takes place April + July of every year) or NaNoWriMo (an online writing event where you try to write 50,000 words in one month – every Novemeber), then I highly recommend signing up and participating. NaNoWriMo motivates you because for once, it is not only you working on a project, but thousands of people across the world. Every one is trying to get all the words down, and it is really motivating to see how much progress you will make by the end of it! I have participated in Camp NaNo and NaNo quite a few times, and started my first draft for my WIP during Camp NaNo back in April. I reached my 50,000 words and kept going!

Those are five things I learned from draft one, and I hope you enjoyed! Currently, we are on day three of the Biannual Bibliothon, so make sure to check out ALL the blog posts I have done for it so far!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon 2018 + Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2

Biannual Bibliothon: Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1 – Favourite Vacation Spots

Reading Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1

Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 2 – Favourite Summer Books!

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo Checklist!

Camp NaNoWriMo is just over two days away, and since our minds are racing at top speed trying to tie up our outlines, it is easy to forget other last minute things that NEED to get done before sitting down to write. Here is your ultimate Camp NaNoWriMo checklist and I hope it helps!

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  • Finish Your Outline! – This is an obvious one, but it is the most important one. Even if you are a panster, have some sort of idea of how you are getting from point A to point B so you won’t waste writing time trying to think about what happens next.
  • CLEAN Your Writing Space(s) – On June 30 take however long it takes to completely clean and organize the places you like to write. I will be clearing my desk, organizing all the scattered papers and pens in my drawers, and leaving out my outline so I can easily refer to it while writing! If you write in multiple places, make sure they are all tidy so you don’t waste precious writing time trying to clean them up. This goes for your home in general! It is hard to write surrounded by mess so take the day to deep clean because you won’t want to spend time doing so when you should be writing.
  • Gather Your Writing Snacks/Drinks – Again, the day before, buy all of your writing snacks and drinks so that they are ready for you as the clock strikes midnight…or whenever you decide to start writing on July 1st! For me, I will be making sure I have a lot of green tea and coffee because apart from water, that is all I drink!
  • Gather Up Your Motivation – By this I mean to figure out what motivates you to write, whether that is a certain book, writing related YouTube videos, or even listening to a writing podcast. Whatever it is that replenishes your creativity and motivation to write, have it at your fingertips for whenever you find yourself needing it. For me, I will be making a YouTube playlist of certain vlogs and videos that inspire me to write!
  • Follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter – This is an account that is active during Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo that offers writing sprints for you to partake in. They range anywhere from maybe 15 minutes to an entire hour, and are usually happening at any point in the day for you to jump in. I am always very productive during these writing sprints, and I really recommend giving them a try!

There is your Camp NaNoWriMo checklist so make sure you get everything on this list done! Comment below what project(s) you will be working on during July, and what your goals are as well, because I would love to know 🙂

Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post and follow me on social media for more writing and bookish related posts!

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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.

Image result for camp nanowrimo

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.

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Writing on Deadline

I am not a published author, or an author really of any sorts. I am a writer though, and being a writer means producing work. The pro of being an unpublished, unagented writer means you can take your time with your work, having the time to rewrite and polish it to “perfection”. However, getting in a habit of taking your time can really affect your career. You can’t spend too much time on one project if you want to get your name out there, you have to produce content on a regular basis, which means you need to work on time management skills so you can finish things by deadlines. If any of you are struggling with this, here are some of my tips for any of you working towards a deadline, or if you want to get in the habit of working on deadline.

Make a Plan/Schedule

Sit down and figure out when your deadline is. Maybe it is a month away or an entire year, whatever it is, figure out how many hours you need to spend each day to work towards this deadline and finish on time. Don’t put too much on your shoulders though, and find out what works best for you. Maybe you want to get 2,000 words done each day, but tackling 2,000 words every single day can be a bit daunting so split it up. Aim to write 500 hundred words in the morning, another 500 in the afternoon, and then 1000 at night!

Set Up a Rewards System

Writing is a mind draining task so reward yourself! Again, tailor this to what works best for you. Maybe if you write six out of seven days you get to take an entire evening off, or you get to buy yourself your favourite drink from a coffee shop. Whatever motivates you to keep writing, well that is what you should reward yourself with for a job well done.

Plan Out Each Writing Day

What I mean by this is to plan out what exactly you are going to write each day. Sit down the night after you finish writing for the day and map out the plot points or scenes you want to hit the next day. Just jot down a few notes and it will be so much easier to knock out your word counts because you will know what you need to get done and how to get there.

Remind Yourself Why You Love Writing

Sometimes while stressing about meeting word counts and getting work done on time, we forget why we love what we are doing in the first place. Watch some videos on writing or read a book you love, whatever it takes to remind you why you are putting all this energy into your story in the first place. Falling back in love with your work will make the biggest difference when you sit down to write because it will fill you with purpose and motivation to get it done.

Submit to Writing Contests

This is a great way to work on writing on deadline when you don’t have an agent or are not a published author. It is a deadline you set for yourself and if you don’t meet it then oh well! Usually writing contests reoccur every year or even every couple of months. Besides, there are so many amazing contests to submit to so you will never run out. I write short stories on the regular and submit them, and because of this I have gained really valuable skills such as producing quality work in shorter amount of times, and taking in rejection. I really recommend all writers do this!

That is all my tips for writing on deadline and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post which is linked below, and also follow my social media accounts for more writing and book related content 🙂

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Drafting 101

Drafting is hard. Especially the first draft because all you can think about is how much it sucks! This is currently what I am struggling through, as I have hit the half mark in my novel I have dealt with a lot of hardships facing my draft. Here are a few of my tips on how to make drafting suck less, and how to motivate yourself to keep pushing through it!

Step 1: Accept It

Remember, all first drafts are awful. Even the most successful writers have terrible first drafts that they feel like tossing in the flames, so remember that you are not alone. Just accept that your first draft isn’t going to be amazing, and your second draft probably won’t either. Writing takes time, and it is going to take more time if you don’t accept it!

Step 2: Keep Writing

Now that you accepted it the only thing you can do is to keep writing. If you don’t keep writing your story will only be in your head, and you can’t rewrite and edit nothing so get those words down!

Step 3: Take Notes Along the Way

While your writing your draft it is important to just get it done, but also write down the ideas that pop up in your mind along the way to make your next draft even better. I have my little idea notebook next to me when I write so I can quickly jot down any ideas that come to mind, but then get right back into writing my story. Having these new ideas at your fingertips will make writing your next draft easier to write, since you will already have an idea of what comes next.

Step 4: Reward Yourself

Reward yourself! Maybe if you write everyday for an entire week, or five days a week (whatever works best for you), treat yourself. Tack on an extra thirty minutes to your TV or reading time, or take yourself to a coffee shop. Whatever you want most give that to yourself for keeping on track with your writing! (This is something I am doing because I have had a hard time keeping up with writing my draft!)

Step 5: Remember You Are Writing the Story YOU Want to Read

This is the most important step because if you aren’t writing the story for yourself, then what is the point? It is hard to write a story that you don’t want to write, or writing a story you aren’t passionate about, because then it will feel like a chore. Write the story you most want to read, and that will be the core of your motivation when it comes to writing.

That is all for this quick drafting 101 tips and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post and also follow me on my social medias! 🙂

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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!

Image result for camp nanowrimo

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 🙂

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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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How To Become a Better Writer (Without Actually Writing)

Okay, obviously you need to actually WRITE to become a better WRITER, but it is also important to remember that there are other ways to become a better and stronger writer. I hope you apply some of these new ideas to your writing process, and I hope you enjoy!

  • Read – Yes, yes this is the obvious one but it had to be said in a blog post like this. You would be surprised how many people forget to crack open a book while writing their own story, or just writing anything in general. It is important to keep up a regular reading routine that goes along with your writing routine because continually reading will continue to inspire you and help you improve your craft as you go along. Even if you can only fit in 15 minutes a day for reading, every little bit helps.
  • New Experiences – Going for a walk around town or hopping on the bus and going for a cruise will open your eyes to the world around us. You will see people interacting and new landscapes which will benefit your writing. You will be able to paint scenery better because you actually saw it, and could pick up on some interesting dialogue as well. Make sure you leave your writing office every once and a while!
  • Learning – Even if you have long since graduated from school, there are so many opportunities for you to learn new things. Take online classes or classes at your local college on subjects that interest you (not just writing, but classes like history, art, languages, etc), check out books on different topics from the library, or use the internet! There are so many resources at your fingertips that I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to keep learning. Learning new things will widen your field of writing when it comes to blog posts and articles, because as they say, pick something (or several things), become an expert in it, and then write it.
  • Watch Movies/TV! – This might be your favourite one, because I know it is one of my favourite ways to become a better writer. Watching movies and TV’s triggers new ideas and allows you to admire the story line and then dissect it. You get to learn what makes an entertaining plot, and where it falls flat, and then apply it to your own writing.
  • Podcasts – Every writer should be subscribed to several different podcasts, whether they are writing related or something completely different. I am subscribed to many writing/creativity related podcasts, but also some on history and mythology ones as well. They are nice to listen to when you are walking around or driving, or even cleaning your room/house. If you have a busy life and don’t have much time to commit to the tips above, I definitely recommend checking out some podcasts because they allow you to listen to them while doing other tasks!

Okay, NOW is when writing comes in!

Those are my 5 tips on how to become a better writer apart from actually writing, and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts below for more writing and reading related content 🙂

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Using Your Cabin

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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.

Image result for camp nanowrimo 2018

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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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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