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Camp Care Package/July 2016

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This page contains the Camp Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016.

July 2016's Camp Counselors were Ibi Zoboi, Courtney Alameda, Natalie C. Parker, Zoraida Cordova, Alex Gino, and Sofia Quintero.

Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi was Camp Counselor for the week preceding Camp NaNoWriMo 2016's July session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Ibi Zoboi holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her writing has been published in Haiti Noir, the Caribbean Writer, The New York Times Book Review, the Horn Book Magazine, and The Rumpus, among others. Her debut YA novel American Street (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins) is due out in February 2017.

24 June 2016

Daydream! If you've decided to become a storyteller, then you are and have always been a daydreamer. Don't let that go. That is at the core of who you are as a writer. You may not be able to write or read everyday, but daydreams are as free as the wind. Let your mind wander and imagination soar!

Courtney Alameda

Courtney Alameda was Camp Counselor for the week preceding Camp NaNoWriMo 2016's July session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Courtney Alameda is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Shutter, the forthcoming novel Pitch Dark (June 2017), as well as other soon-to-be announced projects. A veteran bookseller and librarian, she now writes full-time and lives in Utah with her husband.

27 June 2016

Get ready, get set, sprint! If you're having trouble getting your daily writing session started, begin with a warm up. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes, and then focus on writing as many words as possible in that window. Give yourself permission to fumble. Don't fix mistakes. Just write.

Find your rhythm, ignore your internal editor. In fact, duct tape your internal editor's mouth shut for a half hour. Some days, all you need to fly is a good running start.

28 June 2016

In the drafting stages of a novel, perfectionism is fear in disguise. Don't forget: Fortune favors the bold! Allow inspiration to take you by the hand and lead you to places you hadn't heretofore imagined for your work, even if you have to trudge through the mire to get there.

I assure you, the most stunning vistas I've encountered in my writing have come when I've allowed the wild girl in my subconscious to take the reins awhile.

29 June 2016

You write what you eat... er, I mean read! With all forms of consumable media--be they books, movies, television shows, video games, et cetera--what you consume will largely dictate what you write. As John Donne once said, "No man is an island, entire of itself." Everything you take in will influence you as an artist, so focus your consumption on works you consider "good."

Also: Consume art widely. Experiment with genres, markets, and forms might usually avoid. Build a rich internal life for yourself, one without borders or limits.

30 June 2016

One thing to remember: Writing your novel's a marathon, not a sprint. Self-care's tantamount to your writing--you won't go far on an empty physical, emotional, or mental tank.

Spend some time today reading a book, going for a walk, grabbing coffee with a friend, or finding another way to recharge. Feed the body, feed the soul, feed the muse.

1 July 2016

Image quote used in care package

"Be brave, be brave, be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as it longs to be known. Without bravery, your life will remain small—far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be." — Elizabeth Gilbert

Natalie C. Parker

Natalie C. Parker was the Camp Counselor for the first full week of July. Author bio included in the care packages:

Natalie C. Parker is the author of Beware the Wild and Behold the Bones (due out from HarperTeen February 23, 2016), as well as the editor of the forthcoming young adult anthology, Triangles: The Points of Love. She is the founder of Madcap Retreats, an organization offering a yearly calendar writing retreats and workshops for writers in all stages of their careers. In her not-so-spare time, she is a grant coordinator for the University of Kansas, where she runs writing workshops for tribal college students in STEM disciplines.

4 July 2016

BREAK THE RULES. It's easy to get distracted by all the "do's" and "don'ts" of storytelling. We've all heard rules. Don't use adverbs! Do use dialogue tags! Don't start with a dream sequence! Do start close to the moment of change!

Writing is about making your own rules. No one has written your manuscript before, so no one knows what's going to work until you show them. So, ignore the noise that says there's a right way to write a book and find your own rules.

5 July 2016

In a rut? Don't panic. This happens to all writers, so first of all, congratulations on encountering one of the capital "T" True experiences of being a writer! Maybe you've hit a wall and can't figure out what happens next, maybe you're just bored by what's happening now, either way, you've found a rut and now it's time to find your way out.

Here's a tip: what is the next thing that excites you about your story? Now, how quickly can you get there? It's possible your rut is due to too much distance between here and there. Can you cut out a step? Do it.

6 July 2016

Whether you're writing contemporary or high fantasy, world building is crucial. Here are some quick tips:

Writing something rooted in this world? Know your naming conventions! The U.S. Social Security Administration lets you look up the most popular names by state and year. It's an invaluable resource.

Writing something with magic? Map out your rules! Where does the magic come from? Who can use it? What are three unbreakable rules that govern its use?

Writing something that requires science? If you don't have a PhD in the natural sciences, try classroom resources offered by research organizations. Like this one from the National Science Foundation. Your world will be richer for every detail you pursue!

7 July 2016

Every story is in conversation with the stories that have already been written. Don't let the stories that came first intimidate you. Instead, consider them closely and know what you're adding. Sleeping Beauty has been told in thousands of different ways. But don't let that one popular interpretation scare you off!

Relax into the knowledge that we are all interpreting familiar stories and you have something to say, something to add. Let that popular interpretation inspire you.

8 July 2016

Writing everyday may not work for you. Sometimes what we think of as a rut or a block is simply our creative brains begging us to give it a rest.

Don't punish yourself for needing a break. It seems simple, but remember when you exhaust your creativity, you'll slow down. Building in room for a day away from the computer may end up allowing you to move more quickly than pushing straight through. Just because it's fun doesn't mean it isn't draining!

Zoraida Cordova

Zoraida Cordova was Camp Counselor for the second full week of Camp NaNoWriMo's July 2016 session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Zoraida Córdova is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and Labyrinth Lost. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. She is a New Yorker at heart and is currently working on her next novel.

11 July 2016

Writers can be their own worst enemies. "This is the worst thing ever!" "No one is going to read this!" "My career is over!" These are just some of the thoughts that run through my head when I'm drafting. We know this is a first draft. All you have to worry about right now is getting the words down.

I have to remind myself to stop hating my work before it's even finished. Stop it. Step away or walk away for a bit. Be kinder to yourself. Especially on the days that writing is the hardest.

12 July 2016

"Stuck in the middle with you." Not just a catchy song, my friends. You've started off with the perfect hook opening, but once you get to the middle, you start to slow down. Here are some questions to get yourself unstuck.

Think about your character's actions.

  1. Where do they need to go?
  2. What do they need to do to get there?
  3. How can you make it more challenging for them to get there?

13 July 2016

If you find yourself losing steam, set something on fire. Dropping a huge obstacle in front of your characters can help you discover something new about them. How do they react to this new challenge? How does it advance the plot?

Most of my drafts have had fiery scenes in them, though they're later removed so that my readers won't think I'm a pyromaniac. But the thing that does stay is the series of events I discover from that challenge.

14 July 2016

I've written most of my books during a NaNoWriMo. The very first one, The Vicious Deep, I wrote whenever I had free time. During lunch breaks at work, during my college math class, on my hour long train back to Brooklyn. It was hectic AF.

Now, I give myself a schedule. It looks like this, but you can change it to meet your needs.

  • 10 AM: Brew coffee
  • 10:30 AM: Answer emails
  • 11/11:30 AM: Write for an hour (start the timer)
  • 12:30 PM: Lunch and internet break
  • 1:30 PM: Write for an hour (start the timer)
  • 2:30 PM: Reading and internet break
  • 3 PM: Write for an hour (start the timer)
  • 4 PM: Gym
  • 6 PM: Dinner

Obviously, everyone's life is different. But the point is to give yourself a routine where you can eliminate distractions by timing your writing sessions.

15 July 2016

"Do or do not, there is no try." —Yoda

I have a necklace with this quote on it. Sometimes I wear it when I'm writing as a motivational mantra. There are times when I do everything I'm supposed to. I write the outline, and follow the advice, and sit down to write, but the novel still doesn't work. I've stopped two almost-novels this year.

Before I let myself break down into tears, I give myself a pep talk. Maybe this isn't the one.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to finish every idea I have. It might not be the right time, or maybe it simply wasn't meant to be. I do know that there are many more ideas waiting for me. Work on something else that makes you want to sit at your computer writing for hours. It'll feel right. Your ideas are waiting for you, too.

Alex Gino

Alex Gino was the Camp Counselor for the third full week of Camp NaNoWriMo's July 2016 session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. They would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. George is Alex's debut.

18 July 2016

When asked to describe something, most people will tell you what it looks like. If a scene is feeling bland, look for opportunities to incorporate the other senses.

What does his hair smell of? What's that taste in her mouth? How does their hand feel? And no, dialogue doesn't cover hearing. Tell us what it sounds like for your character to be nervous, joyful, determined, or lonely. Scents are associated with memory and can be an especially powerful tool for bringing your reader into the scene.

Optional challenge: Include all five senses in your writing today.

19 July 2016

Even though you're working on a draft at the moment, it's still valuable to check in on how individual character arcs are going. My favorite way to do this is search for their name and watch their storyline go by.

A friend was reading a draft of mine once, and pointed out that the mother didn't speak for the first sixty pages of the book. I was trying to show despondence, but clearly, I had gone too far. A quick name search would have caught that.

Optional challenge: Name search your main characters today.

20 July 2016

My great frustration this month is a book synopsis I'm editing. A main character who currently comes into the story halfway through needs to become a part of the story from chapter one. Ugh. Avoidance City.

How did I get myself to work on it yesterday? I opened my journal and wrote about how hard the next part of this project is and how proud I was of myself for even trying such a feat.

Optional Challenge: Write yourself a pep note. Maybe even if it sounds silly. Maybe especially if it sounds silly.

21 July 2016

When I set a timer to write, I can get caught up in exactly how many minutes have passed and how long I need to keep writing. Instead, I sometimes burn a stick (or half-stick) of incense.

That way, I can get a gist in a glance of how far along I am without getting caught up in the details of how many minutes I still need to write for. Most full sticks burn for 30-45 minutes.

Optional Challenge: Set incense going while you write. Don't get up until it's gone.

22 July 2016

For years, I thought I didn't deserve to be a writer because I didn't write every day. (Thanks a lot, depression.) And while many of you plan to write every day this month, some of you will not. And that's valid.

Instead of faulting yourself for not meeting some hackneyed adage, what if you celebrated yourself for putting yourself out there and being creative – even (and especially) when you don't like your product?

Optional Challenge: Put a sticker on your calendar when you write today. No stickers? Draw a pretty picture. No calendar? Use a post-it.

Sofia Quintero

Sofia Quintero was the final Camp Counselor for the July 2016 session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Sofia Quintero is a writer, activist, educator, speaker, and comedienne. She is also the author of Efrain's Secret and has written several hip-hop novels under the pen name Black Artemis. This self-proclaimed "Ivy League homegirl" graduated from Columbia University and lives in the Bronx.

25 July 2016

Kudos to you for getting this far! You're so close to the finish line, but sometimes that's exactly when the inner saboteur strikes. Your fave show premieres a new season or some new fad comes out of nowhere to entice you away from your story (I'm looking at you Pokemon Go.)

I fight distraction with the RescueTime app. Add your biggest temptations to the block feature – Twitter, Facebook, Netflix – and stick to your manuscript. No matter how you preserve your focus and block distractions, stay the course.

26 July 2016

I've got some good news for you... your project is already finished. Don't believe me? Then watch this short video from master screenwriting instructor Robert McKee then get back to work.

You've been getting out of the way of your story all month. Don't stop now!

27 July 2016

Science has proven that music enhances the mind's ability to function. The best music for writing is instrumental and repetitive.

When you're in a final stretch of a project, writing with music in the background beats silence. You can't guarantee silence so if you have it, and it's disrupted, it can be hard to refocus. On the other hand, music can trump any distracting sounds and even act as motivational fuel, just like a catchy uptempo song inspires you to run that extra mile. With the soundtrack to the film Requiem for a Dream on loop, I can write for hours. Here are a few of my favorite Pandora stations that I have in rotation so I never get bored and keep writing. Hopefully, at least one is to your liking.

28 July 2016

Usually when you're on writing streak driving toward a goal, you hit a point where having the end in sight is all the motivation you need. Every once in a while, however, that inner saboteur who wants you to quit tries to derail you with what will feel like boredom. You've been grinding at this project for days and, suddenly, you kinda sorta don't care anymore. Of course, you care. You didn't embark on this piece and sacrifice time and energy if you didn't. So here's one trick to give your motivation a jumpstart.

Go back and give a major character a secret. A secret that you never reveal but lurks beneath all their interactions with others. If you're writing fiction and your main character already has a secret, cool. But now give her nemesis, love interest and BFF a secret, too.

29 July 2016

You may have seen this chart by Maureen McHugh, and damn if it isn't true.

"Maureen McHugh - Novel Chart"
Maureen McHugh's Novel Chart

Do you realize that you're at the second to last point? To get to Point Done, here's what I strongly suggest: stop focusing on how far you have to go to get there and celebrate how far you've already come. You'll be in a better frame of mind to sprint towards the finish line if you honor what you've accomplished instead of wringing your hands over how much work you have left.

In fact, I encourage you to take a moment to share one accomplishment—words written, problem solved, element strengthened—with your fellow Campers and cheer one another on before embarking on the final stretch.