Posted in Writing

What I’m ‘packing’ for Camp NaNoWriMo 2017

I know I don’t have to pack for a virtual writing retreat but I love a good theme. Here’s an overview of what I’m aiming to do and the things I’ll be packing for Camp NaNoWriMo to help me succeed.


Unlike November’s 50k goal, everyone at Camp NaNoWriMo gets to set their own target. This year they’re accepting not just word count goals, but goals in hours, pages or lines to better accommodate people who are spending their camp editing, writing poetry or whatever else they choose.

I’ll be working on an untitled new adult urban fantasy novel which I’m hoping to publish this year. Successful books in this genre tend to be around the 85k mark (epic fantasy is much more likely to be 100k+). Since I tend to underwrite in a first draft, I’m setting a goal of 80k words for Camp NaNoWriMo 2017.

However, I should be able to hit that by the middle of the month so I’m setting a couple of stretch goals. In order of importance: fully outline book 2 and do the first editing pass of book 1. I’d be surprised if I can’t at least finish book 2’s outline but hitting these stretch goals is a bonus, not a win condition.

Camp NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

No camp packing list would be complete without some emergency supplies although mine are less ’emergency’ and more completely vital.

  • The outline -I subscribe to the Garrett Robinson school of outlining so my outlines are comprehensive and I keep adding detail until I’m so excited to start writing that I just can’t wait any longer.
  • Character sketches – I tend to have fairly detailed backstories for my characters as well as psychology notes about how their brains work. This time I used the Myers-Briggs types as a starting point but they’ve developed far beyond their four letters now.
  • Tracker spreadsheet – if you want to optimise your writing output, it’s important to know what works best for you. I track my writing sessions – date, start and end time, words, location – and figure out my most successful combinations. If you’ve read Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k book, you’ll know what a difference this can make to your daily word count.
  • Coffee – I never used to be much of a coffee drinker but lately I have at least one cup every day. It’s not the super caffeinated stuff, in fact it’s mostly (almond/rice) milk, but I find it comforting and it helps me think.
  • Candles – I find a burning candle very relaxing. As someone with anxiety and depression, it’s especially important that I look after my mental health and candles are part of my self-care kit.

Tool kit

These are the tools I use to plan my books, get my words and ideas down and keep myself productive:

  • My computer – I don’t have a laptop so I’ll be writing on my desktop pc. I’m fortunate to have a sexy mechanical keyboard so my fingers will be well looked after.
  • Noisili – when my home is empty, which it often is, I don’t have any sound on at all but when my daughter is with me I use Noisili’s rain and thunder or fire sounds to help me stay focused.
  • Scrivener – I plan on moving to Novlr once my paid subscriptions moratorium is over but for now I use Scrivener. My research is all in there and by the time April 1st rolls around, my outline will be too.
  • Google Sheets – I’m a bit of a Sheets addict and I use it for everything from basic to-do lists to planning room layouts. My outlining is generally done in Sheets and it’s also where I track my writing and monitor my progress.
  • Toggl – Whilst I do long term time tracking in Google Sheets, Toggl makes it easier to track my start and end times as they happen, particularly if I get interrupted.
  • Hourglass – I use this timer for word sprints (where you see how many words you can hit in a set amount of time, ‘word wars’ if you’re competing with someone). Chris Fox advocates sprints in his book 5,000 words per hour (which I can’t hit without dictation, and even then I think that’s never happening for me, but his tips can still increase your current counts).
  • Pacemaker – this tool is new to me but it looked interesting and it has pretty graphs so I want to give it a try. You tell it your target and your strategy for getting there – consistent effort, short bursts, ramp up, no Mondays, etc. – and it sets milestones for you to hit along the way.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive – I never want to worry about losing work so I sync to Dropbox and periodically add stuff to Google Drive for redundancy.
  • Traveler’s Notebook – a TN is basically a cover with some elastic to hold multiple notebooks. Mine has 3 notebooks: my bullet journal, my long term collections and the last for my writing ideas and notes. Whilst I prefer to do most things digitally, sometimes paper helps me think better. Plus I need to justify all the pens and inks I own.
  • Google Keep – Keep is the default notes app on my android phone. Since it’s Google, it syncs everywhere so this is what I use to jot down ideas when I’m out and about (also for grocery lists). I used to use Evernote but I find Keep quicker and easier.

I’ll also be packing comfy clothes and tasty food, of course. I will be stocked with fruit and spinach for smoothies to give me a boost and some dark chocolate for when I need a hug.

Tell me what’s on your Camp NaNoWriMo packing list!


Multi-purpose geek. Mum. User Experience Designer. Retired WoW player. Reader and writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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