Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#ISWG: Surviving @CampNaNoWriMo

Surviving Camp NaNo

It's the first week of April and like so many writers I am sitting in the wilderness of Camp NaNoWriMo
working on my next great novel.  This is my second year participating at Camp NaNoWriMo. I am working on a historical fiction novel set in 1919 Marion, Ohio that is based on a true story. I had first conceived of the story when I was asked to participate in a short story contest. My story, Field of Grace, took third place. In 2012, I adapted the short story to screenplay for my thesis project at Full Sail University and titled it Field of Grace. This camp session I am converting the screenplay into a novel.

When I started Camp NaNoWriMo a few years ago I was a bit overwhelmed. I had participated in the 2011 NaNoWriMo and didn't win. Me, the girl who wrote 700 pages in two months couldn't even complete 50,000 words in a single month. I was devastated.  But I didn't give up. I decided to try again. I couldn't understand how writers could complete such a daunting task.

In 2012, I learned a few trick to winning the NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo game. I applied the strategies I learned and viola!

And in 2013.....

Ok so you may have noticed those are the same book. I had started Bailey's Revenge in 2011 but after I won in 2012 I scrapped the entire novel and started all over again because I felt it needed to overhauled. I am so glad I did it too. Bailey's Revenge was released by Mountain Springs House in March and has been on the Top 100 Bestselling Irish Historical Fiction novels since it's release. Sometimes you just have to start a story from scratch.

Now that I have the hang of Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo I can see how I can push around 4 - 6 books out per year that are of the highest quality. The lessons I learn through my experiences with NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo help me to develop stronger writing skills and keep fresh story ideas around me at all time. The worst thing that can ever happen to an author is to run out of ideas. I have no idea how I went through my writing career without every participating in these events. They are a dream for any writer needing that extra push to get their first draft completed. 

 Camp NaNo is held twice a year and NaNo is always held in November. The goal is to complete your first draft in 50,000 words by the end of April. That means you need to write approximately 1,700 words a day. It sounds like a lot but you can do it. The secret to completing that many words or more per day is to have a support group. You need the interaction with other NaNo writers to keep you going. One of the reasons I failed Camp NaNo the first time was because I didn't have a support system in place. When my husband and I moved to Louisville in October of 2012 I joined the local NaNo writing group the following month. With the support of my new friends and a daily writing habit I was able to complete the 50,000 word challenge. We moved to Indianapolis last August and I am planning to join a NaNoWriMo group up here.

Camp NaNo Rules

1) You must start with a blank page. This means you cannot work on an already existing story. It has to be something new. 

2) Don't edit while you are writing. It will only slow you down. 

3) Keep track of you daily total then report then on your NaNo page. Do not report your total book word count. It will mess the NaNo Counter up. 

4)  Have fun!

You can join Camp NaNo at

Tips and Tricks to Camp NaNo

1) Register with the site. 

You want to create your camper profile. Your camper profile will not disappear after Camp NaNo ends. This means you will not have to create a new one every time you participate. The camper profile is used by other campers so they can get to know you better. You can see mine at

You will also want to create a novel profile for the book you are going to write during Camp NaNo. This will not disappear after the event. Every time you participate in Camp NaNo you will have to add a new novel. Camp NaNo will keep your novels stats on that novel's page. 

2) Keep Up With Your Daily Totals

After you have written for the day you will want to report your totals to Camp NaNo. When you sign into Camp NaNo you will see a big blue tent on the right hand side like this except it will say add your daily word count. When you are ready to report you daily progress you will want to place the DAILY number of words in the blue tent then press the green button. I would suggest you do this at the very end of the day because sometimes you will have writing spurts after you have written for the day and you will want to report that. 

Camp NaNo will keep track of your daily progress on a bar graph that you can access from your novel info page. There is a silver button on the side of that page that takes you to your stats page when you press it. Your novel's stat page will look like this. Camp NaNo will automatically compare your results to the entire cabin you are placed in (we'll talk about that next).

Camp NaNo also gives you a bullseye at the top of your site where you can see how much progress you have made towards your writing goal. This is linked to your novel's stats. 

3) Write With Your Friends

If you want to be successful with Camp NaNo then you cannot do this adventure on your own. Camp NaNo understand this. Every registered camper is placed in a cabin with other participants. When you register you will have to set up your cabin settings. You can chose to be placed in a cabin or not participate. I would suggest you chose to participate in the cabin. The cabin is a small group of writers who encourage each other while they are at Camp NaNo. You can request to be placed in a cabin with specific campers or let the Camp NaNo staff surprise you. 

Another resource you can use during camp is to join a Facebook group of other Camp NaNo participants. These groups are great because they encourage you to write. The admins of these groups organize games such as Word Wars and Sprints. 

Word Wars are occur when participants are given a set amount of time to write as much as they can. When the time is over everyone counts how many words they wrote then report it to the group. The person with the most words wins the contest. 

Sprints operate much like Word Wars except after you report your word count you also report your favorite passage or lines. There is no winner. 

Here is one group you can join

4) Develop A Daily Routine

You are also going to need to develop some discipline if you want to succeed. Chose a time in your day where you can sit and write without any disruptions. Some writers listen to music while they write while other don't. Personally, I only use the music if I'm stuck somewhere or need encouragement. There will be those days when you don't feel like writing. Don't give into those thoughts. Just write. It doesn't have to be pretty or make sense. Just write. 

5) Reward Yourself

Don't forget to reward yourself when you have met your daily total. This could be something as simple as a small snack. Save the medium rewards for when you reach the 25%, 50% and 75% mark on the bullseye. Once the bullseye hits 100% give yourself a BIG treat for a job well done. 

Camp NaNo will reward you if you complete your writing project with winner's goodies. You will only receive these once they verify you have completed your novel. After you complete your novel you will upload your manuscript to their site where they will count the words. They will let you know if you have achieved the proper word count via your camp mail. If you were successful they will send you a link where you can collect your goodies. 

6) Pay Attention To Camp Mail

You will want to read every message that Camp NaNo sends to you via your camper email box. They will send you letters of encouragement and sometimes they will have famous authors email you.  The letters have wonderful advice for any level of writer. 

Camp NaNo also allows campers to interact with one another by using Camp Mail. You don't have to be in a cabin with someone in order to send/receive email. 

7) Let the World Know You Are a Camper

If you have a blog or Facebook account you can let everyone know you are participating in Camp NaNo this year by placing one of their badges on your blog or wall. You can access these via

8) Plan You Novel Before Camp

I cannot stress this enough. I know there are some writers out there that write by the seat of their pants. I use to be one of them. You will want to outline your story and intimately know your character before you start Camp NaNo. Don't worry if your story changes during the event. It happens. Just keep writing. If you know where your story is going then it will make it all the easier to write without having to worry about what will happen next to your character. 

Another great tool is Scrivener. Scrivener is wonderful because it allows you to write your story in scenes. You can also keep track of your daily writing totals easier because the word count is per scene written. I use one scene a day while I'm writing in NaNo. After the scene is over I take that total at the bottom of the page then report that to Camp NaNo. My scenes tends to be complete chapters. Scrivener also allows me the opportunity to see images, my research and the note card for that chapter while I am writing. The outline is written in note cards that I can manipulate if I need to change the order of something. You can find Scrivener on Facebook at


  1. Having it planned is a big help indeed, i tend to like to wing it though. First time I've heard the theme song lol

  2. Planning this time has helped me tremendously! Never again will I pants it! And you are right about the song being addicting! I love it!