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How to Prep for Camp NaNoWriMo

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

NaNoWriMo whom? It's time for CAMP NaNoWriMo, NaNo's hip younger sibling that lets you choose your own goal.

But how to prep for this undertaking?

How to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo:

  1. Come up with an idea.

  2. Decide what tools you'll use to write.

  3. Decide how you'll measure your progress/goal.

  4. Set your goal.

  5. Collect your supplies.

  6. Plan or outline to your level of comfort.

  7. Believe in yourself!

1. Come up with an idea.

This idea needs to have substance. You may not be writing 50,000 words, but it should still be a full-fledged concept, one that will hold up all month.

Who's your protagonist? What's their goal, and what's the big fear that prevents them from achieving it?

What's the inciting incident -- the big thing that shakes up the protagonist's life and gets the story started?

What overall idea or feeling do you want to project?

If you're writing poetry or a collection of short stories, what themes are they centering around?

2. Decide what tools you'll use to write.

There's no single "write" method here. (Hehe, see what I did there?)

Do you want to write on Word? Google Docs? Scrivener? Pen and paper? Excel? (Yes, apparently that's a thing. Ugh.)

This isn't the step where you collect your tools. That comes later. For now, just decide how you want to write.

3. Decide how you'll measure your progress/goal.

How will you measure your goal (and your progress towards that goal)?

  • Pages

  • Words

  • Hours

  • Amount of tears cried over the draft

As of right now, the NaNoWriMo website has stopped letting you choose different measurements other than word count. That's okay. In the next step, we'll discuss how to translate your measurement into "words" for the purpose of NaNo.

Got your unit of measurement? Now the next step is...

4. Set your goal.

Next, decide what your goal is.

Part One is your grand, overarching, big-picture goal.

200 pages? 50,000 words? 150 hours?

Like we said, you can only log progress in words. So if you aren't judging your progress by word count, each page or hour will be worth a certain number of "words."

For example, you might translate 100 pages into 100 "words" altogether (1 logged "word" = 1 page) or out of 50,000 words (500 "words" = 1 page).

Part Two of this step is your daily goal.

A string of examples:

  • 50k overall is about 1667 words/day

  • 200 pages is over 6.5 pages/day

  • 150 hours is about 5 hours/day

A journey is just a bunch of small steps, putting one foot in front of the other, etc.

Let's be real. A lofty goal is great and all, but if you don't know what you're supposed to do each day to REACH that goal, it won't happen. You have to know how to get there.

5. Collect your supplies.

Whatever you decided to use, set up your tools so they're ready to use.

Find a gorgeous notebook that coos, "Write your masterpiece here." Create a new Word doc and title it "new work of genius." Figure out how the hell Scrivener works. (I promise it's great!)

Make sure you're using pens, notebooks, and document titles that excite you! You want to be excited to use these, not dreading it. After all, you'll be spending a lotttt of quality time with them this month.

6. Plan or outline to your comfort level.

Time to brainstorm! Outline what you're going to write, or at least the main points.

When I'm preparing to write, I prefer to plan it all out in advance. Even if the details shift, I've got the blueprints on hand.

For people who prefer to write by the seat of their pants, write down a few big things you know you want to write about. This provides landmarks as you fast-draft.

During this phase, if you're writing a story (as opposed to poetry or creative nonfiction), you should also get to know your characters better. Character sheets are great for this. You can also write "interviews" with the characters or brief scene snippets of them interacting, so you can get a good feel for them.

7. Believe in yourself!

Camp NaNoWriMo can be tough. Your friends and family are probably cheering you on, but sometimes it's just gonna be you, yourself, and a problematic draft. You're gonna have to be able to pump yourself up.

Make a playlist of AuthorTube pep talk videos for you to watch on the bad days. (Oh, hey! What a coincidence! I've made that playlist for you already!)

Save compliments you've received in the past and review them so you know your writing isn't utter garbage.

But most of all, believe in yourself! Be your own cheerleader.


The steps to preparing for Camp NaNo:

  1. Come up with an idea.

  2. Decide what tools you'll use to write.

  3. Decide how you'll measure your goal.

  4. Set your overall and daily goals.

  5. Collect your supplies.

  6. Plan or outline to your level of comfort.

  7. Believe in yourself!

Now go forth and camp out with your writing!

I believe in you!


"Make the Yuletide Gay" is now out in the world! Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads. Read Chapter One for free: Chapter 1: “Good Sir, That's a Lotta Snow”!

For more fun writerly and adulty stuff, you can follow me on Facebook ("Author Ivy L. James"), Instagram (@authorivyljames), Twitter (@AuthorIvyLJames), and YouTube ("Author Ivy L. James")!

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