For our Twin Thursday post, both Rachel and I are getting hyped for the summertime run of Camp NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve been curious about what NaNo is but haven’t tried it out yet, Camp is a more laid-back version. Give it a try, and as always be sure to check out Undivinelight for Rachel’s list!

Now, while this is my list specifically for how to prepare for Camp, I find that a lot of the same advice also applies to making myself sit down at the keyboard at any time of year. The principles are the same: butt in chair; hands on keyboard; have your materials ready; so on. But I find having an actual list helps me focus, especially when I’m settling in for a long stretch of dedicated writing, such as Camp.

  1. Your worldbuilding notes, character sheets, research, and other references. Have all of these things well-organized and available at a glance. It’s very hard to do a wordsprint when the detail you needed is lost somewhere in the ether of your bookmarks list. If you think you even might have to know what kind of dog breeds your fantasy island nation has, jot it down before you start. You can always make up details as you go along to fill the gaps (especially if you’re a pantser or an organic-style writer), but if you already made that decision before or did an extensive research binge about Hawaiian poi dogs for exactly that reason, you’ll want to have easy access to that information.
  2. Snacks. Yes, it sounds silly, but believe me, your body will try to sabotage your writing time with its grumblings. Especially if you’re new to binge writing or making yourself do long stretches of word-work. Have snacks and drinks handy so that you don’t have an excuse to wander away from the screen.
  3. Music, a comfy pillow, and other atmosphere-setting implements. Whatever your writing ritual is, make sure it’s in place before you start. If you can only write while holed up at Starbucks with a caramel cappuccino, make sure you can get there regularly to do it. If you can’t, find a way to set up a comparable writing environment in your own home. Maybe you’ll find you work just as well with a cold glass of chocolate milk. Maybe you need your cat. (Caveat: Don’t let lack of ritual become a crutch. These things are tools to help you complete your goal, not an excuse to let yourself fall short.)
  4. Designated writing time. Set aside a period of time every day in which to do your word-work. Ask friends and family to respect that time and leave you to it. Hopefully they’ll be supportive when they see that it’s important to you.
  5. Permission to suck. Especially from yourself. Camp isn’t the time for highly-polished prose. The saying goes that, during NaNo, all words are good words. This is the time to dash it all out on the screen to get the bones of the story and then fix them later. The draft might not be pretty, and that’s okay. Just hork it all up!
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