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Camp Care Package/April 2015

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This page contains the Camp Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015.

April 2015's Camp Counselors were I. W. Gregorio, Sona Charaipotra, Marieke Nijkamp, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

I. W. Gregorio

I. W. Gregorio was Camp Counselor for the first week of April 2015. Author bio included in the care packages:

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above.

31 March 2015

Rule #1 of writing advice is that there is no single piece of writing advice that is valid for every writer.

There are as many different ways of writing as there are people on this earth, and if anyone ever tells you that you "have to do this" or you "should do this," sometimes the easiest thing to do is smile, nod, and file the advice away (after liberal salting).

Do what works for you (and feel free to ignore this advice!).

1 April 2015

Hold yourself accountable. If you're not the type of person who responds to "rewards" (or if you’re like me, and sometimes give yourself a "pre-ward" bite of cookie before you get your writing done for the day), consider giving yourself a disincentive not to work.

One of my favorite tips is to write a check to an organization you dislike, and send it if you don’t get your work done for the day. It worked for my environmentalist husband -- I threatened to send a check to Exxon Mobil, and he got his work done in record time.

2 April 2015

If you're working a day job or are otherwise distracted by family and life, it can be hard to get into the groove once you sit down to write. One trick that I've learned: leave yourself a little prompt at the end of your writing day, so you have a head start the next time you open your document.

The prompts can be as simple as "The next day my main character is going to get mad", or they can be bullet points about descriptions or settings that I want to overlay in my next session. Then, when I start writing in my next limited chunk of time, I read the last page to get my writing voice in my head, and can go straight into my prompt.

3 April 2015

When you can't squeeze a sentence onto paper, turn your screen off so you can't see what you're typing, or write longhand; basically, allow yourself a different physical writing experience.

Then think about something that you truly love -- it can be a person, or a place, or even a type of food. Your passion will come through on the page. See if you can integrate this passage into your story somehow. Even if you end up throwing out what you’ve written, hopefully the exercise will have gotten your juices flowing.

Sona Charaipotra

Sona Charaipotra was Camp Counselor for the second week of April 2015. Author bio included in the care packages:

Sona Charaipotra is a journalist, and received her MFA in Writing for Children. She is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her first novel, Tiny Pretty Things (with co-author Dhonielle Clayton), hits shelves May 26, 2015.

6 April 2015

Counselor Sona reporting for duty! By now, you may be heading into the thick of your draft—and just maybe getting a little antsy.

If you're a plotter, Week Two is the perfect time to revisit that outline! See what's working, figure out what's not -- and why! Revise the outline, if you must. (And it's highly likely that you will!)

If you're not a plotter, this might be the right time to live a little and try your hand at an outline anyway. I know, I know -- sacrilege. But even if you're a pantser, knowing the basics about your story could mean all the difference. It doesn't have to be a scene-by-scene roadmap. Start simple, with one paragraph each for the beginning, middle, and end. Then break down those three sections into smaller chunks, and you'll start to see chapters fall into place, seemingly with a will of their own!

7 April 2015

Most of us have hectic schedules -- day jobs and families and workouts and pals and kids and House Hunters marathons and Twitter addictions. Squeezing your daily word count into that mess can seem like an impossible task.

One way to get it done: streamline and schedule. Think about when you have the most brainpower. But also figure out what you can actually make time for.

For some people, this means a 5 a.m. sprint every morning without fail. For others, it's tucking into that manuscript late at night, when the rest of the day's commitments are met. Figure out when you can commit -- even 20 minutes is better than zero, right? -- and slot that time onto your calendar. Then stick with it.

8 April 2015

Even the most driven writer can slide when she knows she's the only who's watching. (No, I'm not talking about myself! Of course not!)

Get around a slacker habit by checking in with an accountability buddy: someone who'll pester you if you're not hitting your goals. I go so far as to create a Google Doc for my work-in-progress (titled Terrible First Draft, naturally), and give a few key pals access, so they can see when I'm hitting my word count... and when I go MIA for three days in a row.

The fear of disappointing them—and getting the resulting lecture, of course!—keeps me trucking along.

9 April 2015

If you're having trouble with a scene or a story arc, sometimes it helps to get inside your character's head and see where the problem is coming from. A great way to do this: interview your characters!

Ask them all kinds of questions: goals, ambitions, childhood memories, favorite foods, celebrity crushes. And if you're having trouble figuring out how two characters mesh, have them interview each other. It'll definitely give you some new perspective on your story and the people in it.

Marieke Nijkamp

Marieke Nijkamp was Camp Counselor for the third week of April. Author bio included in the care packages:

Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She is VP of We Need Diverse Books™ and the founder of DiversifYA. This Is Where It Ends, her debut YA, will be released by Sourcebooks Fire. She wants to grow up to be a time traveler.

13 April 2015

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the second full week of Camp! This is the week heroes are made. And whether you're caught up or not quite where you want to be yet, look how far you’ve come already by committing!

For extra motivation, remember what you love about this story. Is it the premise? The characters? (Do you ship them too?) Is it that one scene near the end of the story, where your main character finally confronts their biggest fears? Picture yourself writing those moments. Make a list of them, and save them as a reward for finishing the chapter you’re struggling with, for every bit of progress. One word at a time.

14 April 2015

Are you feeling stuck today? Take the last scene you wrote. What if the main character makes a different choice? What if one of the secondary characters does the complete opposite of what they're doing now? What if they push back instead of agree with your main character? What if they agree instead of push back?

The best solutions are not always the most obvious ones, so challenge yourself to do something different from what you'd normally do. Sometimes it's all a matter of perspective.

15 April 2015

Today, pick up a notebook and a pen to continue where you left of yesterday. It's not the easiest way to track words written, but longhand is a fantastic way of getting the story flowing. It's even better if you can go outside or write in a completely different environment for a couple of hours.

Don't think. Don't worry. Just write and let your pen dance across those pages. Writing longhand helps you be more creative; who knows what solutions and surprises lie lurking under the surface of your story!

16 April 2015

Only you can write your story. So when you think about it today, think about what makes your story uniquely you. Is it the way you look at the world? Do the characters share your hopes and dreams? Does your story explore things that terrify you or secretly fill your heart?

Once you've figured out the truth at the heart of your story, you have solid story gold. And I for one can't wait to find that treasure on the shelves one day.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich was Camp Counselor for the fourth week of April. Author bio included in the care packages:

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner. She lives with her family in NYC where she loves to walk, cook, do crafts in many forms, and needs to get more sleep.

20 April 2015

Did things not go quite as planned? Join the club! Welcome! It's actually not that bad here. There are snacks.

It's very easy to be hard on ourselves, to wouldashouldacoulda all of our energy away. Be kind to yourself. Life happens. Then, jot down a few quick goals for the rest of your time at Camp.

Is there a chapter you really want to finish? A scene you need to outline? A character you need to develop? Make a few notes in the margins, drink some water, and get ready for that last stretch to the finish line.

21 April 2015

Process matters. Make yourself a "cheat sheet" to use as you continue to work on your project. What did you do to get to where you are now?

  • What worked -- was there a particular routine, revision technique, or daily snack?
  • What were some of your biggest challenges?
  • If you were to pick a "Camp song", what would it be?
  • Was there a particular critique partner or mentor who really "got" your work?
  • Are there other Campers in the community that you'd like to stay in touch with?

Make a list and hang it on your wall!

22 April 2015

You may have started with a clear idea of what your project was going to be. You may have had no idea and were just winging it as you went. One of my absolute favourite parts of the writing process is revision. In writing, you get do-overs!

Write down three things—ideas, characters, themes, scenes, anything -- that you now feel must be in your story, that are at the very heart of the tale you want to tell. As you keep going, keep this list in mind to help you "say what you mean and mean what you say."

23 April 2015

"Writing fiction is definitely a universe disturber, and for the writer, first of all. My books push me and prod me and make me ask questions I might otherwise avoid. I start a book, having lived with the characters for several years, during the writing of other books, and I have a pretty good idea of where the story is going and what I hope it’s going to say. And then, once I get deep into the writing, unexpected things begin to happen, things which make me question, and which sometimes really shake my universe." — Madeleine L'Engle

Writing, creating stories -- making, as Ms. L'Engle said, "cosmos out of chaos" -- is magic. Seize the opportunity that writing brings to say what you really, really mean. To sing the song that sits at the heart of your soul. Take a look at what you've got so far. How will you disturb the universe?