Organizing Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, as long-time readers will know, I’m big on the Camp NaNoWriMo thing. I participated last April, and managed to completely neglect my set project of finishing an article series with the aim of 10,000 words by the end of the month. Instead I actually managed to get to 50,000 words in 20 days! I was pretty pleased with myself, but he novel remains unfinished and neglected. There’s a whole mess of reasons why it’s only maybe half way complete, which I don’t really want to go into, but either way, I accomplished my goal and then some, though just not on the correct project. Woops!

In all honesty, July rather snuck up on. I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Mentally, I’m still stuck somewhere in the first week of May? I think Easter was last week, wasn’t it? Either way, July is here, in all its summery glory, and I am just completely not prepared. In fact, so under-prepared am I, that I wasn’t even going to participate at all in this Camp NaNoWriMo.

But then, I got to thinking. I realized that I have a whole slew of projects that I need to complete, and that I might as well use this month to get them done. However, July also happens to be quite busy for me.

I’m living in a tourist town in Wales, which means that as soon as all the schools let out, everyone is here. I also happen to be the manager of an ice cream shop, so that means that I don’t really get to take time off, nor does it really leave much room for slacking while I daydream about my projects. In fact, what it does mean is that I have to be here a little later each day so I can do the stock ordering, and in the mornings I have to be here a little earlier in order to deal with the stock being delivered.

On top of the general demands of work, my mom is coming over for a visit. I’m actually quite looking forward to it. However, it means a day where I’m going to get her from the airport, a three hour drive away, spending a weekend adventuring with her, and we’re also spending a day where we’re going to spread Granny’s ashes (speaking of her ashes, that’s also something on my things I’m doing next week: driving the four hours to fetch them, and the four hours back). Plus my general spending time with my mom and other family that might be in the village during that time. Definitely not complaining, but it’s adding to my schedule.

Like I said, come July 21st, the schools are letting up, and so after that, the quietness of the weekdays will be gone, so I can’t even be cheeky and write during my shift like I am now.

So, I decided that I would make a list of everything I needed doing, and try and organize my time off with little word count assignments, so that I’ll hopefully complete my projects all this month, and with minimal stress.

Actually, when I added up all the projects, how many words I expect them to be at the end, it was only something silly like 24,000 words, which is less than 800 words a day. Nothing. Easy peasy. However, I also included things I have to get done—including this blog (were you wondering why I was just waffling on without much direction?).

So, I suppose, how on earth do I help you, a potential fellow writer to do the same?

  • Make a Calendar
    There are much easier ways of doing this, one being going online and maybe downloading a calendar you can print out. You could make one in Word or Excel, you could buy a planner, you could use Google Calendar, the calendar in your phone—whatever! I drew one because I don’t have access to a printer, I was bored and had some downtime, and because I want to be able to see the whole month on one page.
  • Make a list of your Things to do for the month.
    I made a list with different sections. I made one for

    • Scheduled Events
      • I’m really good at forgetting that I have obligations, and so I have to make sure those are the first thing on my list. So for this I put down work, my mom coming into town, hanging out with certain people, the cinema opening I’m meant to go to (that one is a fib), and so on.
    • Must Do’s
      • These are my essential projects, things that have a deadline. At the beginning of this year, I had a goal for my novel to be completely edited, revised, and polished to start being submitted into the world for publication by July 1. That didn’t happen (but only because I had to completely re-write the ending and that forced me to tweak a whole bunch of other things). But that was my own personal deadline I set on myself. Now I actually do have deadlines on a few projects, which need to be done this month. Those are on my Must Do list.
    • Would Like to Do
      • These were the things that I wanted to aim to do if I had enough time, but if I didn’t get to it, there’s no immediate deadline for. I am going to university come October, and it would be a good thing if I got ahead on a few of my future deadlines, even though they’re two to seven months out. I know I’ll be busy, and knowing me (as regular readers will as well), I’ll probably get behind and stop regularity, and thus reliability. So, since I’m using this month to kick my rumpus into gear, I’ll use this month to get ahead on a few of these projects.
    • Color Code Your Lists
      • I’m a pretty visual person when it comes to organizing. So, my calendar is in pencil, my Scheduled events are in black ink, my Must Do’s are in Red, and my Would Like to Do’s are in blue. I’d actually like to vary this a bit, but I’m lacking pens (who on earth would have thought that would happen?!?)
    • Apply Your Lists to Your Calendar
      • I know, sounds silly, sounds basic. But, just do one list at a time, leaving room for other things to be added as the month goes on. I know, sounds nit-picky, but there have been so many times I just scribble on my calendar and then suddenly something important happens that I HAVE to remember, and I have nowhere to write it, so I go into other boxes and before I know it my Calendar is a mess and I don’t want to look at it because it stresses me out. Trust me, you want to be neat with this. Go one list at a time, one day at a time.
      • Also, be sure to add the wordcount for that day to your list. So for me, for example, I have to write an episode of one of my series each Wednesday, and so I put 1,000 words for the goal for that day. I have to have a piece of Flash Fiction every Friday, so I have a 1,000 on Fridays.
        • I don’t have a daily word count for each day. This is to allow me wiggle room incase one day I’m too stressed out or the day is just to busy, so I have time for a make-up day. For example, so far my Tuesdays are sailing clear. I don’t work Tuesdays, and I don’t have any projects scheduled to work on that day. So if on Sunday I don’t manage to write out my episode for my other series, then I can work on that Tuesday and get caught back up.

Writing Calendar

Now, since Camp NaNoWriMo wants you to record how many words you’ve written, and I don’t want to be going back and forth between documents and tallying up how many words each one is just so I can enter it in my little box on a website I can only access half the time because my internet is dodgy—I created a little table in Word!

Projects

I know, this is kind of ridiculous for something I’m supposed to be doing for fun. But it is fun! And there are benefits (which I’ll write about in a later entry). I will say this though: it keeps me on the ball. Most of all, it reminds me about the importance of organizing my time.

At the age I am, in the place I am, I want to do everything and anything, and it’s easy for that all to get on top of me while trying to maintain being a grownup as well. So for me, making lists, organizing them on calendars, it’s the way to sooth any anxiety, and to help me manage my time well.

I hope this was helpful to you as well, dear reader. Even if I did waffle on for quite a while there.

Six Ways To Prepare the Returning Student

It’s kind of nerve wracking, going back to school after a long break, or for some, going into the next level of school: college. Trying to keep my eye on the prize and my goal focused is rather tricky!

And so, I must constantly stimulate myself, prepare myself, for what is to come. Think like a student, live like a broke student, divide my time as a student would. Hell, I even bought two cookbooks designed for the vegetarian college student on a budget! – OK, that’s not entirely true. I’ve had those cookbooks for a couple of years, they’re just a bit more applicable now.

So, along with my daily brain exercise (which admittedly, I’ve been lacking getting fully in the habit of – mainly because we don’t have a chess board as I thought we did, and yesterday I experienced and all day intoxication, which doesn’t do too well for yoga or cooking with consciousness (I gorged myself on cereal, fruit and nachos)), I have been training myself mentally for becoming a full time adult student.

6 ways to prepare the returning student

  • Remembering My Goal
    It’s so easy just to think that I’m going to school just to get my Associates’s degree before I go on to transfer and do bigger and greater things. However, I have to remember that my goal is my English degree, and not only that, but my goal is my Master’s degree, a step beyond the BA. Not only that, but my goal is not just to finish so I can call myself a scholar, but to write.
    I am going to school not just so that I can have a fuller looking resume, or so that perhaps publishers will take me more seriously when I send something into them, but so that I can gain different aspects of the written word, to fully understand where this language comes from, understand the culture that has helped to develop it, and gain more strengths and techniques in my writing style.
  • Organization
    I am a selectively organized person. I don’t necessarily organize say my chore list, but I do organize my blog entries, and my trips into town, and my generally daily need-to-dos. But to be a successful student, I need to be able to prioritize and organize all aspects. I can’t just say that 45% of my time goes towards home work, 10% goes toward class time, 10% goes to eating, 5% goes to traveling, 20% goes to chores and then the remainder 10% toward sleeping – that’ll run me down in no time!
    What I can use this upcoming month for is gaining a regular sleep schedule – paying attention to how much sleep I need to be as functionable as possible, so that I can be an optimum student. Do I work better grazing with many small meals a day, or have a few hearty, very nourishing foods? Does coffee help or hinder my capabilities through the day? Would fresh juice in the morning give me the get-up-and-go that I need? Do I feel drowsy when I eat bread?
    How can I multi-task between writing, doing laundry, cooking, and learning new things?
    Getting myself ready for a full schedule now will help me out in the long run.
  • Research Professors
    With each class I will be presented with (most of the time), there will be a series of options of times, dates, and teachers available. While knowing what I want from each quarter, it is important to have a good idea of who’s class I should be aiming for to get my optimal needs met.
    I once, long ago, when I was doing Running Start, decided to take Political Science at the college instead of taking Citizenship at the high school. I, being an extremely liberal hippie-in-training, was met with a very obviously conservative professor teaching the class. From the get go I knew we wouldn’t see eye-to-eye. Granted, with what I have gained over the years, I don’t think that a professor’s political stance would take any effect on me. However, lacking the maturity and insight that one gathers as they go into the adult world, I couldn’t see past our differences.
    While I understand and see the problem within myself during that class now in hindsight, what’s to say that I have the maturity and capability to understand the bigger picture in a different class in a different situation?
    This is why I say it is important to research your professors. After all, had I looked into that Poli Sci teacher, I might have see student reviews which remarked that if you try this approach, they respond better, or allow for a deeper understanding of the teacher’s background which might explain the development of their approach to teaching.
  • Challenge The Self
    You know what? I have a full month until I start my classes. Do you know what that means? Live it up before it gets crazy!
    Wrong!
    This is the time when one should be challenging themselves, making them get into habits they wouldn’t normally have the ambition to get into, get used to researching, training yourself to be trained. This is the time for the warm-up before the work out. By intellectually challenging myself every day, I am limbering up my brain to be ready for the marathon of hard academic work ahead.
  • Putting the Talents Out There
    Being a student requires some level of confidence. After all, I know that I’m going into a situation that I’m not entirely certain of. It’s been ten years since I’ve set foot in a learning establishment. The way kids learn is different, they all have fancy technology, their sarcasm is different, and being in a classroom full of different peers is trying.
    Oh yeah, and did I mention I haven’t been in school in ten years?
    This means that everything I have learned and known all throughout my schooling history is at least ten years old. That means things have changed, that I have changed. What I was once good at is now a rusty tool in the shed.
    I need to build myself up, but not only that, learn to take criticism.
    To do that, I need to get my writing more underway.
    The fiction I write is my baby, and if I am going to learn to be mature enough to handle anything a professor or a fellow student might throw at me as far as feedback goes, I need to be able to take it from strangers. So, I need to put my writing out there and teach myself to take it as feedback instead of direct insults and hurtful jabs.
  • Read
    Life has torn me away from reading. It used to be my love, it used to be the inspiration for me to write. But these days I never have time, and when I do have time, I’m so picky about what I read (since I never have time, I want it to be worth it!), that I can never decide on it.
    That has just got to go out the window.
    Especially with the goal to be an English Major, I need to make sure my reading-wheels are well oiled, and that I am ready to read obscene amounts of literature. Not only just get into reading, but get that analytical thinking cap on, so that I can delve into the under-skin of what I am involved in.
  • Meditate
    I know, sounds like some hippie ruling (what can I say, the dreadlocks don’t lie), but it’s true. I am about to embark on a journey that the adult me has never come across. Meditation is the best way for me to center myself, to calm the anxiety before it happens, and learn new tools to be able to take on the upcoming workload.
    After all, even if I don’t get it right, it’s just breathing, what’s that harm?

It all seems so far away! But those classes will be here before I know it, and I definitely want to be prepared.

Comment below – let me know your ways for preparing for the school year to come!