• Karina M. Sokulski

Camp NaNoWriMo: Routine, Routine, Routine!

Routine's keep us on track. Routines ensure we form healthy habits. Routines are how we win our NaNoWriMo challenges. In preparation for NaNo, you have to build the very routine you're going to live by during the month. Developing an effective routine is the key to achieving your writing goal.

Building Your Routine

Making writing time fit into your weekly schedule can be challenging and adapting can be difficult. Your fellow NaNoers have figured out a way to deal with this issue. In case you missed it, NaNoWriMo created a quiz titled: "What's the best NaNoWriMo writing schedule for you?" The quiz offers a questionnaire regarding schedule habits, at home life responsibilities and other inquiries that will result in scheduling suggestions for you to consider. The suggestion will break down a structure, the weekly goal and an additional "try this" piece of advice to make coming back to your routine a little easier. There's even a button generated below your result to add the structure to your Google calendar!

Routine Enforcement Tip!

After constructing your routine for NaNoWriMo, try the following steps before you begin:

  • Plug your routine into your calendar

  • Program alerts into your phone for when it's time to get writing

  • Install a focus app on your phone or make a habit of leaving your phone in another room

  • Tell anyone living with you about your plan to write and enforce private time

Set a Daily Goal

Whatever you decide to do for Camp NaNoWriMo this year, you'll still have to input a word count. Let's use the classic 50k goal as an example. Calculate the word count (or edit count) goal you've declared for July and divide it by 31 rather than 30. Let's use the classic 50k word count goal as an example: 50k / 31 = 1,613 words per day. Incredible how an additional day will change up the classic NaNo word count. Don't forget to keep from overwhelming yourself by breaking down your goal into manageable bites. I'm pursuing a classic 50k goal this July, but that nice 31st of July is giving me a tiny break with an expectation of writing 1,613 words daily.

Set the Mood

If you're anything like me, prone to distraction without forcing yourself into a focus environment, you'll want to adopt a habit of setting the mood every time you sit down to write. I'll break down my own routine for the sake of an example and how each beneficial step gets me in the mood:

  • Step #1: Relocate cellphone to bedroom & silence

  • Step #2: Boil water in my kettle and serve myself a cup of piping hot tea

  • Step #3: Kick on my wax melter for some calming scents

  • Step# 4: Read (part of all of) a chapter in a book

  • Step# 5: Kick on some music (preferably lo-fi) accompanied by an ambient (or white noise) drone to block out distractions.

  • Step# 6: Write for a minimum of an hour

Here's the same list, but with their benefits listed in place of the routine steps:

  • Benefit of #1: The most distracting possible device is beyond my reach and requires too much effort to retrieve for use.

  • Benefit #2: Waiting by a percolating kettle is the first trigger for my brain to realize a focus-required routine is underway. Tea is calming and a beverage I regularly consume when I intend to be stationary and working for some time.

  • Benefit #3: A pleasant scent is the second trigger for my brain that the routine is about to be under way. A nice scented wax melt (personally) triggers the creative part of my brain.

  • Benefit #4: Reading triggers my analytical brain to draw inspiration from writing I enjoy and critically draft my own ideas.

  • Benefit #5: Music (preferably lo-fi with it's mostly lyric-less nature) helps drown out background noise and inspires my creative brain. Adding a white noise drone (or an ambient environment) eliminates distractions and boosts my creativity.

  • Benefit #6: An hour of uninterrupted writing is a consistent and reasonable mini goal to set. On a good day, I can get up for ten minutes to stretch my legs, maybe nibble some brain food, and return for another hour. On a tough day, I'll use the hour to write and come back for a few minutes more to simply outline for my next writing session.

Build Your Own Routine

Now it's your turn. See how your routine can be broken down, analyzed, and how each step can benefit you. Breaking down your weekly routine and analyzing it is a great way to reduce the possibility of distractions getting in the way of your work. Use the list below to plug in your routine and list the benefit of each. This exercise will help you establish a healthy, habit-forming routine that will help you focus and eliminate any unnecessary steps that may be preventing you from reaching work. If there's a step in your routine that doesn't benefit you, then it's time to discard it!


-Step #1:

-Step #2:

-Step #3:

-Step# 4:

-Step# 5:


-Benefit #1:

-Benefit #2:

-Benefit #3:

-Benefit # 4:

-Benefit # 5:

Camp NaNoWriMo's July session is on its way! Join me for the next post and our explorationof resources every writer should be taking advantage of!

Happy Writing!

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