Camp NaNoWriMo: The Complete Guide (For Planners, Pantsers and Everything in Between)

NaNoWriMo the Sequel: Camp NaNoWriMo

Just when you thought all the WriMos were gone… more showed up…as NaNo REBELS!

Camp NaNoWriMo is the time to #rebel from the normal NaNoWriMo foundations. Write whatever you want. Poems? Yes. Sequels? Sure. Editing? Go for it. A million words? You’re crazy, but if so, please call me (555-555, a very real number), because I’m crazy too. Just maybe not a MILLION words crazy… yet. I assure you, read through five of my posts, come back, and try convince me I’m not crazy.

Kinda like last year’s NaNo post, I’ll divide this off into easy-to-find sections. A pet peeve of mine is when a blog post is just one big text block. When does it begin??? I don’t want to hear your story, I want to read the article! What if I want to skip a part?

Just wanted to let you know, I am not a professional writer even though I pretend to be, because confidence is key. I go by my own experience. Feel free to disagree with me at any point. We can have a lovely conversation about it and hopefully we’ll both learn something.

Choosing a Project

Projects You Can Choose From:

  • Writing a draft (or part of one)
  • Writing a bunch of short stories
  • Writing poetry
  • Editing your NaNo novel
  • Rewriting your NaNo novel COMPLETELY
  • Anything you can think of related to writing except reading

Link to NaPoWriMo, which totally counts, and not in the sarcastic way. (It’s February, and all there is on the site is the cool page saying COMING IN MARCH ((actually, it says sign-ups start March 1st)), but I’m not posting until March so you’ll have to see it next year).

Do’s and Don’ts for Choosing a Project:

Do:

  • Choose something you enjoy
  • Create a goal that will challenge you but won’t stress you
  • Check your schedule
  • Be caught up on school before you write

Don’t:

  • Force something that doesn’t work
  • Choose a goal too high/hard and completely break in April and June
  • Stay up late and wake up at an unreasonable hour to write
  • Ignore all your other priorities

Can you tell what I learned this year from NaNoWriMo? And every other project ever?

Prep and Types of Writers

Types of Writers (prose only)

There are four general categories as far as I’m concerned. (In Case You Didn’t Know: Plotter is someone who plans out their novel before writing, pantser writes “on the edge of their pants” by letting the story come naturally as they write it, and plantser is the “perfect” in between).

The Total Plotter

The total plotter will plan out every single detail. Typically, they have a very high wordcount by the time they are done because they have envisioned everything, but not always. They prefer to know all there is about their story. They tend to have an easier time in editing, but their story can come off as stiff.

The Plotter-Based Plantser

There are many degrees of Plantser-ism, and this is one. The plotter-based plantser likes to keep the element of surprise (however, they need plans or they will freak out), so they typically will make an outline, but not a very detailed one. They like to know the main events of the story, the backstories of their characters, and do some world building. However, sometimes their plans can flop and they will get very confused without them.

The Pantser-Based Plantser 

The pantser-based plantser will not use an outline, or if they do, a very broad one. They only like to get an idea of their story before they start writing, a helpful little guideline. Their document labeled “prep” will only be a couple pages long. Oftentimes they envision their story in their head. Sometimes, though, they come to a dead end and writer’s block strikes.

The Complete Pantser

The complete pantser doesn’t even come up with a title for their book before writing: a couple character names and a quick synopsis, usually. They come up with new ideas as they go along. Because they do this, their writing sounds fresh and it really feels like the characters are going on the journey for the first time. It’s exciting, but editing can be a nightmare and writer’s block can make it hard to move on.

Which degree are you? Anything in between? I’m more of a plotter-based plantser. I don’t like insane details, or I get bored, but if I don’t have a plan I’ll get confused and my story will fail.

How do I know all these degrees, you make ask? I have experienced them all– you don’t understand. Literally all of them. But I am a plotter-based plantser, as seen above. At least, I think. It could change after this round of novels.

Preparing to Edit

What I do is read through, at least until the part where my brain died and literally everything fell apart. I’m also marking which parts need to be rewritten, partially re-written, and deleted. Of course, I’m going back, but you don’t have to.

The point is to assess what you need to do. How do you want to divide your edits? Create a plan.

Preparing to Write

Oh, here’s where things get fun! I shared all of my methods for prep here, basically a bunch of ideas, and a way for even the pantsiest of pantsers (that’s a word) to prepare here. A basic summary of this article: Writing when you feel like it is like training for a marathon whenever you feel like it. Practicing writing every day will make NaNoWriMo a lot easier for you, just like it would be easier to run after a training schedule.

Because I have already done this, let’s not. 

Kidding. Find your own way. What works for you? Write down everything you typically struggle with when writing. Plot seems stiff? Loosen your outline. Or, do your plots fail? Go into more detail. Characters annoying or flat? Learn more about them.

Links, Tips, and Such For the Other Projects

Scriptwriting: http://www.mensaforkids.org/teach/lesson-plans/writing-a-screenplay/

Poetry: http://www.napowrimo.net/ (I’m linking to it again)

Kind of a letdown. But, it’s what I’ve got. (If you know of or have any resources or tips for the other projects, let me know and I’ll add them up here to share with everyone!)

Keeping it Organized

I used to have all of my prep spread all over the place (digitally). But, what I do is I have a folder for each novel. What goes in there is the novel itself, the drafts, the prep, and anything else I find useful. In my prep, I like to use a large, noticeable text to define where things are, like characters, plot, outlines, descriptions, and basic details. This can be a great format to keep poetry and songs organized in! This also works for screenplays.

After I have it all finished out, I’m going to move it onto WikidPad so I can find it all easily when I need it while writing my first draft. I don’t use WikidPad very often, but it seems to work pretty well, even if it requires a bit of coding. I heard about it in Jill Williamson’s book Storyworld First, which is another great recourse.

So, that’s my post for Camp NaNoWriMo. You should see a description of my novels in the next My Writing Life. Anyway, as promised, more non-writing-related posts coming!

What are you doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, if you are? Are you rebelling, or using this as an opportunity for your first draft? Do you need a cabin? Because me, Sarah, and Chloe have a cabin and we need members. Comment if you do.

Should I change my signature?

17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Wow, I can tell you really put a lot of thought into this, Josie! It was very interesting to read, too. 🙂 If I ever do NaNo, this would be a great post to refer to!

  2. Great post, Josie! This is my first time doing Camp NaNo, so this was quite helpful. 🙂 I think I’m a lot like you—a plotter plantser. But sometimes I can be a pantser too. It depends on the story. 😛

      1. Haha, im not exactly sure yet. Im deciding between my NaNo novel that I never finished and another project that I started in January. How do you go about choosing what project you will be working on?

        1. Hmm, I choose an idea based on how passionate I am about it and how prepared I am for it. If you’re not sure, work with each one a little bit and see which one you like best. This usually helps me. Let me know how it turns out!

          1. I think for this one im just going to work through my already prepared first drafts, wahtever I can do. So ill be doing my current project. 😉 thanks for thhe tip though!
            Also, i was wondering if you still have room in your cabin? Id love to join! 🙂

          2. Definitely! What’s your username? I’ll check with the other girls in the cabin, but they’ll most likely say it’s fine.

  3. *flails and dies* HOW WILL THIS UNDECIDED WRITER I EVER DO CAMP NANO

    Ahem. Thanks for this! This was awesome! So very helpful and informative. Expect a lot of traffic coming to this page during the months leading up to July… I wanted to do April’s camp but looks like I’m just going to have to do July. Or I might have to skip July altogether and just do November. *glares at calendar and schedules* Best of luck with Camp NaNo! 👍 👍 👍

    Madi

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