top of page

Unorthodox Ways to Use Camp NaNoWriMo To A Writer’s Advantage

Camp NaNoWriMo is a week away. It starts July 1st. While November is recognized as the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month, there are also two Camp NaNoWriMos in April and July of each year. During each camp, writers have the opportunity to set the pace, the project, and the word count for the project they can to accomplish in a month. Most writers use the thirty days to conquer the 50,000-word challenge, and that’s amazing! It can be hard to churn out 50,000 words, roughly 200 or so pages in a month. If you can complete the challenge, I bow down to you. You deserve all the accolades in the world. Seriously! But aah. . . . cough. . . cough,. . . this is where I channel one of my writer friends and say, “However, Comma, Space.”

Let me explain. In this case, I must insert an however, then a comma before I dramatically pause to keep it real. So, here goes. It’s great if writers can win the challenge; however, for writers who are also parents, employees or wear multiple hats, then it might not be possible to write the first draft of their novel in a month. Not to mention if you are a novice writer, you may find the challenge a bit overwhelming to tackle 50,000 words in a month. I know some experienced writers who shy away from participating.

In addition, it also depends on your writing style. Are you a writer who writes nonstop without needing to edit along the way? Are you one who writes a few lines or a few pages and then makes edits? Are you a writer who likes to sketch out the plot before crafting your masterpiece? Are you a writer who can only write for an hour or less a day and/or even every few days? I have friends who can’t commit to writing everyday because of their schedule but are able to publish several quality books a year. Don’t get me started if your genre is poetry.

Now you see why I said, “However, Comma, Space.” It really does apply to this situation. I bet you’re thinking Camp NaNoWriMo is not for you, especially if you have one of the writing styles above. Should you avoid Camp NaNoWriMo like it's Kanye? I know, I know. Kanye prefers to be called, “Ye,” but I can’t get down with that. I digress. Back to the topic at hand. The answer to the above question is of course not. Of course you don’t avoid Camp NaNoWriMo. Instead, you take advantage of the challenge and tailor it to your needs and here’s how.

The Project (The What?)

The first step is to think about the writing project you want to complete during NaNoWriMo. Ask yourself, “What writing project do I want to tackle?” The key word is “want.” You want to pick a project you’re excited about and can realistically finish. For example, that ebook you haven’t thought about in years might not be the project for this challenge. Choose a current project or a new one that keeps you up at night. You know the one you can’t stop thinking about and have lots of ideas swimming in your head. Yeah, that’s the one you should work on during NaNoWriMo. Your enthusiasm coupled with inspiration and creativity will motivate you to write. If you are not excited about the project, the likelihood you will start or even finish is slim?

Think "Inspiration + Enthusiasm + Creativity = Motivation and Productivity.

So, what project do you want to complete? If you are a blogger, perhaps you commit to writing a certain amount of blogs for the month. For example, I decided to write a blog a day. My goal is to have 30 blogs by the end of the month. The blogs won’t be polished-perfect, but I plan to have the bare bones for each one fleshed out. This way, when the month is over, I can polish them when I’m ready to have content available in advance instead of trying to write them on the fly. Think about it. If I write/sketch 30 blogs in advance, I will have content for several weeks to come. Not to mention, I will be able to produce new content at my leisure because I already have ready-made content.

To get you started, below is a list of ideas:

  • Poem

  • Book of Poems

  • Novel

  • Novel outline

  • Short Story

  • Short Story Collection

  • Blog

  • Several Blogs

  • Ebook

  • Planner

  • Character Sketches

  • Research

  • Content Calendar

  • Marketing Strategy

  • Website

  • Newsletters

  • Email Marketing

  • Promotional/Incentives

This is where you need to be as specific as possible. Brainstorm a few minutes to flesh out your ideas. Doing this before you start NaNoWriMo will save you a lot of time. What genre is your project? Will you focus on a book, a newsletter, a short story, or a blog? Once you know the genre, brainstorm about the project you want to complete. Say you plan to use the 30-day challenge to create a marketing campaign for your book that’s coming out soon. How can you use NaNoWriMo? Easy. Before the challenge starts, create a plan of action (marketing strategy) that leads up to the publication of your book. In other words you create a map that details how you plan to promote your book each day or week of the challenge.

Here’s an example.

Week 1: Create a landing page/author website and set up presales

Week 2: Write/publish a description, blurb, blog about the book

Week 3: Find book reviewers/do a podcast

Week 4: Post on social media websites and join a few

Week 5: Create a promotional deal or incentive/run an ad

Each week, you could focus on a specific task that will help you reach your overall goal. You could even design daily goals from each week's task. The possibilities are endless. The first step is to figure out the project.

The Plan (The How?)

The second part of step one is to make sure you set a realistic goal. Once you figured out the project, you have to come up with the game plan. What aspect of the project will you tackle? Say you want to work on poetry. Don’t choose to write a poem a day for the next thirty days if you know it takes you a few days to a week to write one. To do so is setting yourself up for failure even before you begin. Step two is about defining the plan to include specifics about what part you will complete and how you will do it. This is where you flesh out your plan/goal. You might decide only to work on a particular part of a bigger project. For example, you might use the 30 days to develop the protagonist and antagonist of one of your projects.

The Schedule (The When?)

The third and final step to making Camp NaNoWriMo a success is to create a flexible and realistic schedule. You have to think about what you can realistically complete during the challenge. What obligations will you encounter or have to work around? Kids? Work? School? Events? Family Time? Trips? Next, you have to figure out when and how often you plan to work on the project. Assess your time to decide if you will work on your project everyday, every few days, or once a week. Then, you have to decide when you will work on the project? What time of day and for how long will you work on the project? Maybe you can only devote Saturdays to working on the project and decide to start at 6 am to noon. Perhaps, you can only work on the project three days a week from 9 pm to midnight. Either way, you will have to establish your flexible schedule.

The trick to taking advantage of Camp NaNoWriMo is to decide beforehand three things. 1. What project will you complete during the challenge? 2. What is the game plan for the project (What exactly will you focus on during the challenge)? 3. What flexible schedule (time) will you devote to complete the project?

bottom of page