Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is in one month.
One month.

I am not yet ready for this, but I will be. During March, I’ll be doing prep work for the first NaNo event of the year.

Character development is a large part of my preparation. If I don’t know the characters well enough, writing in their voices becomes practically impossible. So I’m learning all I can about them as I work through a couple of different questionnaires. The loooooong one is only for the two leads, whereas the short form will be for several supporting cast members. I’m diving into their personalities, emotions, and dreams as well as their fears, faults, and sorrows.

One of the neat things I’ve already learned through the long form is that this particular form gives me insights not only into the leads but also into their friends and relatives. Any important relationships they have get explored through this form, which should, in theory, make the short form for the supporting cast go a lot quicker as I’m already figuring out bits and pieces (and sometimes large chunks!) of who these supporting characters are and how they effect the leads’ lives.

Another aspect of preparation for Camp is figuring out the plot. This one will be trickier for me. I’m still learning how to get a proper outline done for a fictional story, as I used to be a pantser who would simply sit down and dive into the story without much planning ahead. Plotting has worked better for me and allowed me to have more complete first drafts without the dreaded slumpy middles. Still, my process has not been perfectly honed yet, so I’m still trying to figure out what outlining plan will work well for me from one project to the next.

Maybe it’s okay for plotting and outlining to look vastly different from one project to another. Each project is unique, after all. So whatever plot/outline I figure out for my upcoming story might or might not work well for the next one or the one after that. Hopefully some aspects of the process will carry over into something consistent, but at least I won’t get bored figuring it out every time if it does remain changeable. (Not that I could truly get bored while exploring new characters and plot points and emotional impacts of those plot points. It’s a fascinating process, planning a book.)

By the time I have the character development and plot figured out, I’m sure Camp NaNoWriMo will be banging down my door. So I should make sure I have the following things on hand for the beginning of this event:

* paper
* pens/pencils
* erasers
* sharpeners
* laptop (with charge cord)
* notebooks
* snacks
* bottled water, hot cocoa, and tea
* blanket (for chilly evenings)
* toilet paper and tissues
* easy-to-make meals
* Post-It notes
* patience (with myself and the story)
* determination
* follow-through
* tunnel vision (for my writing sessions)
* plans for stretch breaks (walking, washing dishes, yoga, etc.)
* prayer, prayer, and more prayer

Already I have most of these things. With un-diagnosed ADD, the follow-through is sometimes tricky to nail down, but I’m certainly trying hard. NaNo events are huge motivators for me, as my mind works well with deadlines most of the time.

Perhaps the most important item to bring into the story is excitement. When I’m excited about a story, the writing of it usually becomes easier. I’m glad to report that I’m thrilled about this story I’m planning. It’s deep and different and quirky and important. It’s challenging in various ways, but I’m excited to rise up to the challenges it presents and push through until the words fill the pages. I’m hoping to dig deeper into my own emotions and experiences than during previous stories, to take my writing to the next level. This may be the largest challenge of all, because exploring one’s own fears and faults and hopes and dreams in relation to a story’s plot and characters and their journeys is not always easy. It’s often tough and hurts a lot, but it also makes me not only a better writer but a better person to boot. So here’s to a month of self-examination, self-exploration, and daring to dig where it hurts in order to become the best author for the story I’ll be writing during Camp NaNoWriMo.

If you’re a writer, how are you using this month to plan for Camp?
(Consider this your invitation to this event, if you hadn’t already heard about it.)
If you’re a reader, what questions do you have about my writing and/or preparation process?

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