The Camp NaNoWriMo Prep Checklist

camp nano prep checklist

It’s March! And besides having the Micro Fiction Challenge underway, Another event is looming on the horizon. (It’s just my favourite time of the year!)

We are less than a month from Camp NaNoWriMo!

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an annually hosted event designed to challenge writers everywhere to write 50,000 words in a month. Normally, this takes place in November, but Camp NaNoWriMo, to borrow their slogan, is an “idyllic writer’s retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

Unlike a normal NaNoWriMo, a Camp session allows you to set your own goals. Instead of reaching 50,000 words in 30 days, you could write 100 pages, do 4000 minutes, or as I am doing this session, 60 hours. Whatever the goal, however big or small, March is the time to get ready to write a novel!

Here is my March NaNo Prep Checklist:

1. You need a project.

Not only do you need a project, you need to get it ready to be written into a beautiful first draft. You need an idea. Likely, if you’re a writer, you have a million. If that’s the case, you need to narrow it down to one. (Impossible you say. I say, very nearly impossible, yes). I recommend trying out a couple ideas on for size. Write some scenes with your main characters to get a feel for them and their story. To be clear, this isn’t part of your novel, it’s just to figure out which characters and ideas you are going to commit to for the month.

2. You need to flesh out your project.

Once you’ve got an idea, you need to flesh it out. This is the wonderfully gritty part of writing. It means building your world or setting, interviewing your characters to find their personality and flaws, and fleshing out your plot to the extent that your pantser/planster/plotter writing brain wants to go.

To do this I do one of those triangles you learned about in school and put the big picture idea of my story along the lines, using those helpful words like inciting incident, climax, denouement, etc. This sounds tedious, but like any outline it will help you see where you want each major event to fall during the story and how much weight the event will need to carry.  For some, this is enough of an outline. I personally like to have more. So then I go to my favourite piece of stationary, index cards (preferably colour-coded, but not necessary).

On index cards I break my story up into scenes. Having a novel idea laid out in this way helps to tighten up the story, allows you to keep track of lose ends and subplots, and gives you an opportunity to reorder the story by moving the scenes around until they work best for your story.

Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what will be in each scene. Having a rough idea is better than floundering and having no idea what to write, what comes next, or how to get your characters out of that seemingly impossible situation.

Disclaimer: For my pansters. Don’t worry about this step. Be free like a wild gazelle!

3. Make a plan to face the month.

In my experience, the more detailed this is, the better. Take the time to figure out how much time you are going to need each day to stay on track. And if you’re anything like me, schedule extra time for those super busy days where no writing gets done. I try to have one day near the end of the month where I can just write with no distractions.

Then you need to figure out when you can fit this time in. For me, I’m doing two hours each day, but it is unlikely I will have a two hour time slot just for writing. That means I have to schedule at least two times in my day where I can write for an hour without distraction. My strategy is one hour before the day starts and an hour in the evening.

During March, I will try this method by doing my plotting and outline in two one hour chunks to get a feel for it and see whether or not that particular schedule will work.

4. Gather your supplies.

I always make sure to stock my fridge with snacks and refill my coffee reserves. But I also make sure I have a cozy nook to write in. This may be a chair near a window, or a tidy desk with few distractions. A hoodie or a blanket, a favourite pair of slippers, whatever comfort you need to go into writing hibernation mode during April.

During March I also work on building a playlist so that I have an ample supply of noveling music.

5. Hype yourself up.

Spend the month of March getting excited for NaNo. Nothing is worse than entering NaNoWriMo halfheartedly. This month has no time for doubts or half-baked efforts. NaNo is hard. And being excited for the challenge will make the month much fun and exciting. Love your story and your characters and make sure you are entering April on a good note.
These Five items are on my must-do list for NaNo prep this month. Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April? What kinds of prep are you doing to get ready?

Find me on Camp NaNoWriMo as ChianteG. I will be creating a cabin a little later in March. If you are interested in participating in NaNo and want to join a group of like-minded writers, leave me a comment and we can cabin together (space is limited and fills up fast!) Happy NaNo prepping!

7 thoughts on “The Camp NaNoWriMo Prep Checklist

  1. Good luck this April! I’m hoping to participate too, but I’ve never actually completed a NaNo before (despite wanting to many times) so I’m not sure if I can get through it. I like your idea of making a detailed plan of surviving the month… I’ll have to try it out! 🙂


    1. The nice thing about Camp NaNo is how you can set flexible goals! If 50,000 words is too many, try for 25,000 or put in a certain amount of time rather than a word count! Also, if you end up participating let me you and I can add you to my cabin. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the offer! I’m not sure if I want to get involved in cabins this year yet, but I’ll let you know. 🙂 And yeah, that’s a good point! I forgot that you can set an amount of time, that might be better for staying on track. Thanks for the tip!

        Liked by 1 person

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