I had my first Camp experience this April, I didn’t prepare, I signed up online and applied for a cabin and dusted off the manuscript notes from over 8 years ago. I took a deep breath a few days before, signed up to the commitment of 50,000 words, the most having written before being just over 20,000. I signed onto the forums and enjoyed some post and banter (sadly missing in my cabin!)
At this point;
Grab your Camp Notebook/ Laptop/ tablet etc
Set Up Support Networks
I used the forums for support throughout April, but found my main support came from fellow bloggers on wordpress which I discovered throughout the month – The WordPress reader is helpful for this and some people link their blogs from the forum.
There are many bloggers who create Blogs especially to record their Nano Experience, others, like myself, post as regularly as they can with updates and statistics throughout the month on their own blogspaces. Plus if you have your own Blog probably many of your followers will be taking part anyway!
Consider your word count
I believe you can amend it (increase or decrease) throughout the camp, however unless there are genuine circumstances that disallow you to complete the camp write in the manner you hoped I see a decrease of words a cop-out.
I’m not saying you can’t – no one will judge you, but yourself. Neither have I forgotten the brutal slog I had to force myself to complete when my manuscript fell dry at the 30,000 word stage! But I did push, I stopped enjoying camp so much and cussed myself for getting involved in such a project, I had moral arguments with myself about copying and pasting chunks of text to make up the word count. I have never been a cheater and never will – where is the credit and sense of self-belief and achievement if you have faked your way there? During Camp Nano however the shoulder devil and shoulder angel will have many conversations – sometimes (believe me) they will pretend you’re not even there!
My advice if you’re not sure about word count is aim low, at the basic level you want to achieve, write a higher word count in a writing journal or calendar/ diary – when you near completion of the original word count up the stakes. I think this will bring the best psychological results. It is supposed to be a retreat and fun. Allowing yourself time in your busy schedule to write, not cause a mini breakdown because life got in the way of achieving so much in such a short space of time! Let’s be realistic some of us are asking 80%+ plus more of ourselves & our writing time than usual. You will feel the burn some days.
Keep motivated by reading other people’s experience (forum, blogs) & use support of friends, family & your cabin crew.
Prepare a short list of rewards & time outs
There will come times when this Nano Write is hard (sometimes it will feel impossible) sometimes the best results will come from a mini step away and this is when your little list becomes Gold Dust! A positive mental attitude throughout camp is a real must – it is a marathon event believe me.
Create a list of time-out activities
Simple short amount of time doing something you enjoy away from the computer (and any other technology if you can help it!-kettles, coffee machines & audio entertainment equipment exempt!)
Here’s my list for example;
- Short walk
- Read 1 – 2 chapters of current book
- 20 mins break – drink & whatever you decide in a different place to your writing space.
- 20 mins with magazine and a cup of coffee/tea/juice.
- Sit outside (I didn’t have a garden in April & I still managed it.)
- Wash up or iron, possibly vacuuming or dusting. A simple chore that doesn’t require too much concentration (maybe not ironing then) but allows your mind space to think. Set an alarm to stop 10 – 15 mins
- Rearrange wardrobe/ shoe collection
- Clean some jewellery
- Sort make-up case or bathroom cabinet
You may add other helpful time-outs like walking the dog, kids to the park, listen to music, relaxation techniques etc. Whatever you choose step away from the Nano Camp for at least half an hour or even return to it later in the day if you have the luxury of time!
Rewards – The Self Bribe
What motivates you?
Again choose some ideas -what motivates you? Write a personal list in your notebook/ journal etc.
- Reading a chapter (book)
- Reading a magazine article
- Powerful rock music
Some Campers set themselves a mini target or even set up a row of sweets, rewarding themselves every 100 or 200 words. This may work for you once you get to those sticky moments or feel like you don’t want to make the word count.
The most important rule is to write everyday even if you don’t make your word count.
Grab your diary NOW!
With this in mind it is important that you check your life schedule for June. Are there some days you know you are going to be very busy? What tactics can you put into play to meet the write time on these days?
We will look at this more in my next post.
Gather your support works
Plan your write
Think about your word count
Prepare your rewards and time outs
Check your diary schedule