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  • Karina M. Sokulski

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2020


Let’s not beat around the bush when it comes to what’s happening in the world right now. COVID-19 has temporarily but drastically altered our lives with orders to stay home. It’s a tense time for those who are sick and those who are staying home just to try to prevent the disease from spreading. Understandably, you may not be feeling the motivation to work on your latest writing project with everything that’s happening. Even now, you’re at home and glued to the news because adjusting is hard, and we have no idea how long the quarantine will last.

I propose in our temporary work from home situations you give Camp NaNoWriMo a try. Don’t worry about climbing mountains this session and instead explore your creativity. I find during the toughest of times, an exploration of my creativity or sticking to a routine full of healthy habits will see me through. Below I’ve offered a list of challenges you can undertake for April’s session of camp this year. Some items on the list are more challenging while others offer a more leisurely pace. If you feel ready to give a writing routine a shot, try committing to the following steps before taking your pick:

  • Leave your phone in another room

  • Get into the rhythm of deep breathing (video for help here {X})

  • Create an environment where you can shut the world out (site for help here {X})


50k in Spring


Let’s start off with the classic challenge. If you’re not letting the Coronavirus slow you down and you want to hit 50k, then go for it! You show this quarantine who’s boss. Shoot for 1,667 words a day and claim your win!


50k Editing Challenge


Really don’t feel like producing new content? No worries! Did you hit up a 50k challenge back in November? Why not work on editing that work if you haven’t already? Now’s a great time to test your editing skills and refine what you wrote last year and log your words that way. So many of my friends actually use both the April and June sessions of camp for editing only. It’s a great and equally important challenge to put yourself through!


Boot Camp NaNoWriMo


Still of the opinion that COVID-19’s got nothing on you? Whether 50k sounds like too much or not enough, Camp NaNo is completely customizable. If you wanted to build your own boot camp and arrange your own goal, go for it! Some boot camps I’ve joined have a goal of 60k, others 100k. If you want to shoot smaller and do a 40K or less, go right ahead! There’s no such thing as building a customized boot camp “the wrong way.” If you don’t have a mind to write, then build yourself an editing boot camp. The possibilities with building your own challenge are endless!


Camp Try-a-New-Thing-Along


I’m the kind of writer who has to write completely different projects at the same time. I blame my ADHD brain for this habit. If you’re stuck in your current project, why not pause and write something completely different? I’m not saying start a new book you’ll invest years into like you are now, what I’m saying is challenge yourself to write something for fun. Make it something you turn to on the side. I have plenty of stories I write on the side that I can unapologetically practice my craft on. There are a million plot holes here? Ok, here’s a great opportunity to explore the mechanics of this character archetype I’ve never written before. Oh? I’ve figured out how to fix this? Great! Hey, I can apply this lesson to my actual writing project. This side story is just a messy, non-committal hodgepodge of craft practice. Don’t take it too seriously and see what you’re capable of.


Healthy Habits Camp


Here’s the camp challenge I’m undertaking this month. I’m stressed by the news, too. I’ve been glued to my phone and tempted over and over to social media more than I’d like to admit. I’m not going to be undergoing a 50k challenge this month, but I am going to be tackling a healthy-habit routine. Throughout March I started a routine of forcing myself to write 1k words a day. This is usually my norm but with a recent career change followed by a pandemic, my healthy habits had all but vanished. So that’s what I’m going to focus on this month: reinstating my healthy habits. I’m going to leave my phone in another room, do my deep breathing and set up a sound environment to quiet the noise outside my office door. Then I’m going to write my 1k a day.


Creativity Work-Out Camp


This is the micro version of Try-a-New-Thing-Along. Instead of a new story you work on throughout the month, this is writing the start to a different story every single day of the month. Sounds chaotic but its excellent practice for writing story starters. For an extra challenge, only write the start to new stories in the first week of this month, then in the second week proceed to weed out which stories you don’t care about. Once you’ve done that, in week three you’ll expand on whatever’s left. By the final week of April, you will have narrowed yourself down to just one or two stories you’ve expanded upon and have for side-writing or a new project.


Camp Fan Fiction


I’ve said it like a sermon, fan fictions are great craft-exploration tools. If your creative mind is taking a back seat during this pandemic and you’re having trouble working on your characters, then give both a break. Work on a fan fiction and borrow someone else’s characters and plot lines. Explore craft with an unapologetic, non-committal writing project. You’re still flexing your creative brain and seeing what you’re capable of. Having trouble writing comedy or mystery? Make that fan fic as crazy and zany as you possibly can. Test your limits and be brave with someone else’s toys!


There’s plenty to choose from in the list above but there’s a little surprise from NaNoWriMo below, too! I popped open their newsletter this morning while sipping my coffee and spotted their interesting little hashtag, #StayHomeWrimo .


#StayHomeWrimo

In light of the pandemic, NaNoWriMo.org sent a survey inquiring what they could do to support us during this time and the results are in! We all voted on resources to help engage our creativity, connect with our fellow NaNoers online and advice on activities to do from home! All excellent suggestions and, of course, this post is my throwing my hat in for ideas for Camp NaNoWriMo. You can read all about #StayHomeWriMo on the official page here: {X} . Following NaNoWriMo’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube pages will get you access to routine activities they’ll be posting while we’re safe at home.


It's a nerve-wracking time in the world right now but we're going to get through it. Camp NaNoWriMo is here and no sickness can stop our ideas. During this time remember that your health matters and taking care of yourself and your loved ones remain top priority. Though social media is a constant in our lives, remember to be careful about both what information you take in and what information you share. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 and the misinformation around it matters. For your convenience, here are some official sites to read up on:


Center for Disease Control and Prevention > Coronavirus


World Health Organization > Coronavirus


USA.Gov > Coronavirus


National Health Service > Coronavirus (for those located in Europe)


Stay creative, smart and healthy during this time at home. We're going to make it through this.


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