What Is Camp NaNoWriMo? 7 Tips For A Successful Writing Month

Ashley Batz for Bustle

At some point, all budding writers have fantasized about leaving their hectic lives behind and heading off to a cabin in the woods for some uninterrupted writing time. Sadly, most of us are a little too busy to do that — but the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo in April might be the second best thing. Camp NaNoWriMo describes itself on its website as "an idyllic writer's retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life" — and can you think of anything more perfect than that?

So if you've been fantasizing about writing your masterpiece, but have always been a little intimidated by NaNoWriMo's infamous 50,000 word goal and the hundreds of thousands of participants, consider camping out for the month of April instead at this springtime virtual retreat. While NaNoWriMo's huge community can be awesome, Camp NaNoWriMo offers something a little more secluded: you'll enter into a cabin of up to just 20 writing buddies, assigned to you based on age, the genre of their writing, and their own word count goals — and they'll be ready to cheer you on at every step of the way. Or if you'd prefer, you can set up your own cabin with your friends!

What you choose to write during Camp NaNoWriMo is totally up to you; it could be a novel, but it could also be a script, or even poetry. You can go for the full 50,000 word goal if you'd like, or you could aim for a minimum of just 30. Now that's achievable. And if word counts stress you out, you can set your goal in lines, pages, or even hours if you prefer.

Camp NaNoWriMo takes a much gentler approach to writing than its more famous November cousin — but you'll still need the support of your cabin buddies to reach your own personal goals. Here are some of the best tips for getting through the month — and don't forget to pass these on to your cabin buddies to help them with their projects too!

Keep A Notebook In Your Bag

Inspiration can hit at the strangest moments, and if you're not ready to write it down, the feeling might pass. If you always have paper and pen to the ready, or your iPhone notes app if that's where you do your best work, then you'll never miss out on any of those unexpectedly genius ideas. You can also try writing down random observations throughout your day; even if you don't think they mean much, they might suddenly add up to a brilliant idea.

Set A Writing Time

It's amazing how quickly the day can slip away if you're not paying attention. Try carving out a period of time every day, perhaps an hour when you first get home from work, when you know you're going to be writing. If you fit it into your routine, you can hit your word goal practically without noticing.

Do A Word Sprint

Pick up your pencil, or put your hands on your keyboard, and write. Don't think too hard; don't delete anything; just keep on going until you run out of ideas. Or to make it even harder, you might set a timer or word goal, and don't let yourself stop until you reach that limit. Half of what you write might be unusable, but the other half might be total gold.

Set Mini-Goals

Divide up your main goal into smaller aims, perhaps per week or even per day. The satisfaction of hitting one of your smaller goals will spur you on to the finish.

Create A Physical Cabin At Home

No, this doesn't mean you have to build a hut out of logs — just section off an area of your home that's specifically for writing. Whenever you're in your "cabin," no procrastination is allowed; if you feel the need for a scroll through Instagram, get up and go somewhere else to do that. That way, you'll get used to being focused inside your "cabin," and the writing retreat experience will feel even more real.

Bring A First Aid Kit

You wouldn't go camping without one, so don't head off into your writing cabin without a well-stocked first aid kit: perhaps a dictionary and thesaurus, story dice or any other creative writing aids, and of course, some snacks.

Join In With Camp NaNoWriMo Events

Every Wednesday, take part in a virtual write-in, streamed live from NaNoWriMo HQ. Or see if there are any write-ins near you that you can join! There's also a Twitter chat with the camp counsellors at the beginning of the month, where you can ask questions and receive motivational advice.