Camp NaNo Talk: Let’s talk survival

Hey Guys,

So the countdown to midnight has begun and I am preparing all the things I will need to survive the next 30 days! Now not everything on this post will be a shopping list of supplies to get you through April, no this will be tips, tricks, and the occasional suggested candy! So lets begin!

Word cushions

Righty-ho, I don’t know about you but I plan on starting dead on midnight and writing until I reach at least 2,000 words before I get some sleep. No this wont be the only writing I do for the first, in fact I have set myself a 10,000 word challenge for the first (no I don’t recommend this much of a cushion unless, like me, you are hella busy all month and want to use the time that you have got!).

So why 2000 words before sleep if I am just going to carry on writing later? Because I want a cushion, I want to know that when I get to the days that I cant get out 10 words let alone 1667, I wont be falling behind. I will admit, being below the words count is a fear of mine and simply thinking about it sends the anxiety monsters darting around my chest.

But you don’t have to aim that high, even if you write an extra 100-500 words a day, you can soon have days off without worrying!

Quiet space

Now, if you are like me, I struggle to work in complete silence. My mind wonders off in tangents and nothing productive happens. Be it writing, work, or studying; I like to throw on some classical music in the background, but it has to be quiet. Shhhhh. Quiet.

Of course, this is near impossible if you have children and I sympathise… greatly. I often care for my niece (aged 4) who doesn’t like it when I work, unless of course I bribe her with half an hour of Peppa Pig! Surprising how you accommodate to ‘Peppa Pig- oink-oink!’  playing in the background.

Your idea!

Now I know that some people will not work the same way as I, but when it comes to my first draft I like to have all the plans off the computer. Outlines. Character information. Scene orders. If I have worked on them on the computer, I will print these off and keep them on hand for quick reference when I’m busy blasting through a scene and I cant remember whether Red is shorter or taller than Wolf (she’s taller by the way, Red’s a big, tall, strong lady- who will literally kiss you to death!).

Some will prefer to keep everything ‘safe’ on the computer, my only downside to this is having to move away from the scene or document to find the information on another document. There are programmes such as Scrivner (which I am using this year!) that can make this a little easier but I still prefer printing and highlighting… who doesn’t like highlighting?


You have set yourself this aim, to reach however many words you have declared for April. But at some point, you are going to have things that will crop up, that frankly, will outweigh your writing commitment! This. Is. Okay!

I know that on at least one day in April, I will not be able to write- funerals do that to you- so I plan around it. But when you consider a day-to-day breakdown of the month, there will be things you need to do everyday. This is where I plan.

Recently I have begun bullet journaling, which is a combination of a planner, a brain dump device, and lists and lists of tasks. I have been spending 10-15 minutes every morning while I am sat in bed, jotting down every task I can think of that I need to get done. From brushing my teeth to taking the dog for a walk. Everything gets written down.

I then consider how important each task is and how long it will take; if it will take less than five minutes, I get them done first; if they have set times then there really isn’t much you can do but follow the times. But if I look and see that I have uni reading to do for the next lecture, or slide activities to do, these need to be prioritised. But then if I look and see, grab coffee and talk to [name], then I question whether I need to leave the house to see them? How important is the conversation? Can it be done on the phone while I make breakfast/lunch/tea?

Finally, for all those little things that have to get done, I group. Group those babies up and conquer them together. Need to take the dog for a walk, pick up milk, drop the kids off at school and post a letter? Do them all together!

A little organisation goes a long way!

Rewards and snacks!

Guys, snack on whatever you like. Seriously, don’t try and follow someone else’s snacks because you’ll be thinking about the snacks you do want rather than the story in front of you. I do recommend trying to incorporate some fruit into your snacks, even if they are chocolate covered or sugar covered.

Drink plenty of water, yes we are all pretty much going to be relying on coffee for another month, but for each cup of coffee try and have a glass of water. Coffee may stimulate you and keep you up (yeah- coffee does not keep me awake enough to function enough to use a computer at night!) but water will help focus your mind and stop you getting the dreaded coffee shakes. On that note, try and have a day away from intense coffee consumption each week, I know its hard but your body needs time to not be pumped full of the stuff.

But seriously… leave your snacking ideas below!


We are all going to be sleeping like the dead by the time May rolls around, but when you have other life commitments you still need to function. I am not going to preach about 8-10 hours sleep, utter rubbish. I function perfectly fine on 5 hours sleep. I can go down to 3 but then I am a little more coffee dependent and not a nice person for the day.

Honestly,  guys don’t put yourself in danger for Camp. If you are driving anywhere, even to the bottom of your road, don’t do it that tired you cant see the street light walk in front of you. Don’t stay up all night writing because word counts are the be all and end all of camp- that’s crap- it’s not. You hit your target? Well done, in fact a huge congrats! But you don’t? Here, have my certificate because participation is the key!

Your health, physical and mental, come before your word count goal.

Your family dependants come before your word count goal (the important stuff like feeding the kids- not coffee with your sister, she wants coffee she can sit and drink it on the sofa while you work).

Your education comes before your word count goal.

Your happiness comes before your word count goal.

You are more than a word count.

Stop writing when it stops being beneficial.

So for now I am going to get some sleep before midnight and get in a few snacking supplies! I will see you just after midnight for my first line update, and then daily updates!

Good luck

Have fun

Helen x


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