Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us, and it’s time to declare your project! This Camp NaNoWriMo survival guide should give you all the tips and tricks to keep you sane throughout April.

Camp NaNoWriMo Survival Guide | This Camp NaNoWriMo survival guide contains the dos and don'ts of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you're looking to get the most out of Camp NaNoWriMo, this post is for you!

Orignal photo by Mahir Uysal 

Before we get too far into this post, you can find out more about NaNoWriMo here, and more about Camp NaNoWriMo here.

(Pssst! If you want to know how to win NaNoWriMo, I’ve got you.)

While I love NaNoWriMo, I think Camp NaNoWriMo is my favorite. NaNoWriMo is great for making a ton of progress on a project and hitting that 50,000 word goal in a month. But Camp NaNoWriMo makes me happiest because it’s all about focusing on what you want to achieve and setting that goal.

(Yes, you can do whatever you want whenever. So, if you set your own goal for NaNoWriMo, there’s not a novel writing police task force that can stop you. But it’s easy to get swept up in the NaNoWriMo fervor, so I tend to go with the crowd. And since Camp NaNoWriMo encourages you to do your own thing, it feels like you’ve been given permission to do what’s best for you and your project.)

This year, I plan to take it a bit easy. I have a lot of things going on and coming up this spring, so my Camp NaNoWriMo goal is to hit 20,000 words. You can find out more about why this is my goal in this YouTube video:

Now, whatever the goal you choose for Camp NaNoWriMo, know that there are some universal tips for success. I’m sharing my Camp NaNoWriMo survival guide to help you put your best foot forward this April.

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(But know that these tips also work for Camp NaNoWriMo in July!)

Camp NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

Do: Find a good Camp NaNoWriMo cabin.

When you’re trying to hit a word count goal, it’s good to have friends on your side. It can be tough to push yourself to your stretch goals, or even to hit normal goals. And to me, this is one way that Camp NaNoWriMo is better than NaNoWriMo. The cabins make it easier to have a closer group of people that you can commiserate with. Or, they allow you to have a close group of cheerleaders. Sure, the fervor of everyone trying to hit 50K during NaNoWriMo is great, but I prefer having a small, close-knit community. And that’s exactly what the cabin can be.

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Don’t: Mistake online chatting for hitting your goals.

Now, it’s easy to feel like this cabin of fellow writers is there to entertain you all day. And it would be a shame if all of you didn’t get the opportunity to get along and enjoy each other’s company. But my one big pet peeve with group writing sessions or with group writing retreats is that there is always one person who wants to really work, and there is always one person who really doesn’t want to work. Everyone else kind of falls in the middle. So, the person who doesn’t want to work winds up chattering away with the group until those who fall in the middle are on their side, and then it’s everyone against the workaholic.

Don’t let this be the case with your cabin. I think it’s a good idea to have set times for when you will check in and talk, or maybe even create special chatting areas where people have to intentionally log in to interact. That way, you aren’t chatting when you should be writing.

Do: Pick an achievable goal.

If we all wrote 50K for NaNoWriMo and both Camp NaNoWriMos throughout the year, we’d end the year with more than 150K words written. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if that seems excessive, or like maybe it’s setting you up for burnout, it’s important to remember that you get to pick the goal you want to set for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Because I teach, spring is a busy time for me. I’ll be finishing grading the midterm papers and prepping for finals week while simultaneously prepping for the intersession course. So, my hands are full. For that reason, I encourage you to consider what you have going on during the spring, and then picking a goal that makes sense for you.

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Don’t: Miss out on spring in favor of staying indoors.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m so happy spring is here. I’ve missed the way that sunshine feels on my skin, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay inside and miss all the awesome things spring has to offer. During April alone, I plan to attend the Medieval Faire, the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, and Norman Music Fest. There’s a lot going on this month! (Also, Game of Thrones starts back up, so, I’ve got a packed schedule.)

And while it’s always admirable to push toward your goal, it’s important to remember that writers need life experience. So make sure you take some time to get out and enjoy the spring time weather and the spring events. (And make sure you pick a writing goal that allows you to do that.)

Do: Let people know what you’re doing.

I think the biggest kiss of death to writing productivity is not telling people what you’re doing. It can feel silly to tell people who aren’t writers what you have planned, and it’s a real pain in the ass to explain what NaNoWriMo is to people who apparently can’t access Google on their computers. But it’s important to tell people what you have going on so they know you’re working towards a goal. People treat you differently when you do. Suddenly, to them, you become a person who is doing a thing, rather than a person they can text whenever and ask asinine questions.

I have been known not to tell friends when I’m conquering these things in favor of just ignoring them and giving them the impression that I’ve fallen off the face of the planet. Don’t be like me. Nourish your relationships and be a healthy adult.

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Don’t: Forget to schedule time for it.

Forgetting to schedule time for Camp NaNoWriMo is something that we all do at one time or another. In fact, I can attribute all my NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo failures to not scheduling time to write. For whatever reason, I tend to think that I can just jam some intense writing sessions on top of an already busy day, and then I get freaked out when it all doesn’t work in my favor.

But if you want to succeed, know that you need to make sure you have scheduled non-negotiable time for writing. Put it in your planner or Google Calendar first, and from there, you can plan everything else around it. Also, make sure you’re planning to write at the times that are best for you. That makes it a ton easier to actually get writing done.

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How do You Survive Camp NaNoWriMo?

So, how do you get through Camp NaNoWriMo? What’s your one weird tip that totally changes your writing game? How do you make sure you have enough time to conquer a writing goal during Camp NaNoWriMo? What’s your Camp NaNoWriMo goal this year?

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