The Quickstart Guide to Camp NaNoWriMo

July 02, 2013

Did you decide on July 1 that you needed to write a novel, but have no idea where to begin? Never fear. I’ve been there and I’m here to help. Call me Gandalf at Helm’s Deep. (No, really. Call me that. It would make my life.)

Camp NaNoWriMo is a quest to write a novel (or really, tackle any creative project) in a month’s time. Here’s how it works, in ten easy steps:

Fill out your profile. First things first, tell our intrepid Campers about your affinity for grooving out to 80s pop while you write. We don’t judge.

Settle on an idea. You can settle on the idea however you want. Remember, ideas mutate, evolve, and are replaceable if necessary. So ask your best friend, or your pet alligator, or pick the idea out of a hat. Do what you gotta do to start.

Define a novel. Once you’re settled on a novel idea, head to “My Novels” under your “Camper Profile” and fill in the details. Celebrate copiously after this very official step.

Find the cabin of your dreams. Go to “Cabin Settings” and tinker until you have your ideal cabin-mates. Once you’re sorted, make sure to say hi!

Start writing. Write wherever feels comfortable. You can write on your laptop or you can write in your notebook or you can write on a piece of ancient parchment, provided you didn’t filch it from a museum. We don’t condone that, despite it’s awesomeness.

Enter your word count. Brag about your daily total in the handy “Current Word Count” box at the top of the page. Missed entering your count the other day? Go to your novel’s statistics and “Edit Word Count by Day” to get your graph accurate once more.

Dance, take a walk, stand on your head. Give your brain a little time to do something different (maybe explore our wild and wonderful forums). Trust us on this one. It helps. If you actually stand on your head, please send us pictures.

Then write some more. Even when you don’t feel like it or there’s noisy construction and you can’t hear yourself think. Brew some coffee and write until you can’t write any more.

Stuck? Discover the power of the word war. When you can’t write any more, try a word war (defined by yours truly as a super epic battle of who can write more words in a time frame of your choice, usually involving lots of writerly trash-talk). Our participants run all sorts of fantastic word wars and sprints.

Have a rocking good time. At times you may hate us for encouraging you on what seems like a path to misery and alienation from sunlight, but noveling is full of magic.

When the going gets tough, we’re here to help. Just click your heels together three times and close your eyes. We will come bearing pie.

Emily Gordis
Summer Counselor