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Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo

20 days left until Camp NaNoWriMo!!

This is the very first NaNo related event that I'm participating in and I'm so excited for it to get here! Well...kind of nervous too. And scared. And hopeful.

For those of you who don't know, Camp NaNoWriMo operates under the same concept as the regularly held NaNoWriMo events. What does this crazy acronym actually stand for? Nation Novel Writing Month, which happens to be in November. The camps are held throughout the year to keep people motivated for the once yearly competition. Write 50,000 words in the course of one month and you can count yourself as a winner of NaNoWriMo!

And I'm beginning my first quest at the next camp event (starting on July 1st).

Well, first of all, you need a story. Obvious, I know, but you don't want to endure writing 50,000 words to find out in the end they're all crap. Since this is my very first NaNo event I am by no means to be considered an expert. But I think I have a pretty good plan on what I want to accomplish in the coming three weeks.

1. Outline. Some people might not need an outline and can write by the seat of their pants. This is not me. I have attempted several stories in this same manner and always fester out in my passion for completing it. If I don't have it planned out ahead of time then I get stuck at literally every plot turn. Word production goes down until it stops completely. I save the document, promising to get back to it and I never do. (Sidenote: I never can now. My apartment was broken into a couple years ago and all of my old pieces were saved on the laptop that was stolen. "Vivien, you fool! Why didn't you back them up on a hard drive??" I did...they took that too.) So it is very very important for me to outline! And save to multiple sources including Dropbox...

2. Research. This is the first time I've actually had to research anything for a story I'm writing and I have to's been fun! Researching for school ⇒ sucks. Researching for something you want to write about one day ⇒ awesome. Now I'm actually reading stuff that thoroughly interests me and I'm getting so inspired by all the things I'm reading. What should you research? My novel has elements of magic and lore in it that I actually want to know about before I start writing. I already have a rough outline of my story and want to add to it based on things I learn during this step. I understand that during NaNo I can make a simple note to research something later and move on, but I would like to keep this to a minimum.

3. Read. I checked out too many books from my library on the craft of writing fiction. I have read some in the past but apparently none that were rated well on Amazon, so I'm starting my writing craft lessons anew. I plan to share with you guys the things that I learn as I read them and whether or not I recommend you buying them. I actually plan to purchase the ones that I love after I test drive them for free through my library. Here's a list of the books I plan to read in the next three weeks:

Yes, you read that right. I plan to read them all within three weeks. This is probably not advised as I'm not going to be able to absorb all their helpful hints. In any case I'm hoping that I can quickly get some techniques to apply to my Camp NaNo experience. If I love them enough to buy them then they'll likely be a staple in my reference collection. I can devote as much time as I need to them later, and probably see things I missed the first time.

It's also a good idea to read for fun as well. I have an ever-expanding list of books on my Goodreads "to-read" shelf that I definitely plan to take advantage of in July. There's a reason I like to write and it's to be a part of a good story! Whether you're writing a book or reading one, you should always strive to experience that passion. That thrill or sadness or giddiness you get when you're sucked into the story so completely that you can't stop turning pages - that's what you're striving to create. Be in touch with your book passion!

4. Writing Challenges. This is something I've never done before but I'm going to challenge myself to some writing exercises before NaNo. I'm using this as a way to find the voice I want to use for my novel and to deepen each one of my characters. This is a challenge for most (if not all) characters in my story and I can't wait to update you guys on it. Check back with me as I plan to make a fun post on the writing exercises I do!

5. Gather Materials. *Queue flashing lights and drumrolls* for the amazing Scrivener! I just started using this program and it's absolutely addicting. Everything you could possibly need for your novel is now in one place. And I mean everything. Setting sketches, character sketches, a place to put all of your research, material for the front matter of your book, and of course your manuscript. It does so many things that I'm going to have to do some homework to be able take full advantage of it. One thing I particularly think will be useful to NaNo: full screen mode! *More flashing lights* It blocks everything on your page except for your manuscript itself. No banners at the top for changing font or what have you, and no exit strategy for procrastination to take root. Just you and the words. I can't wait!

Lastly, but super important:

6. Support. Not technical support (although that can be very necessary as well) but emotional support. NaNo is a huge undertaking for most of us - having someone there to cheer you on is a big deal when the last thing you want to do is write. I have my wonderful boyfriend Steven and my mom to be my NaNo cheerleaders. My NaNoLeaders! Already they've both been a huge help in the planning process and I know they'll be there every day of my camp experience!

So there you have it! That just about sums up what I'm currently doing to prep for the month of July. Don't forget to check back for my writing challenges and any other updates I have along the way.

Please let me know in the comments what you're doing to prepare, and if you think I should discuss any other topics!

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