‘Turtling’ towards Camp NaNoWriMo: Goals, Tactics, Tips, and Turtles!

For the month of July, I have signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo.

My target is 30000 words, and I hope to finish my first draft of ‘Tales from Dragonspire.’

My cabin mates are some of the epic #Turtlewriters from Twitter.

Turtle writers write slowly, and we all support and motivate each other too! There is a weekly chat: The chat question is posted every Sunday, and the discussion lasts all week to give everyone a chance to join in! If this sounds like you, pop over and say hi at #Turtlewriters!

Turtling and Hurtling
Don’t throw the turtle to make it hurtle! You’ll scare the poor thing!


Make time for writing:

You don’t have to write every day. I never do. Based on my usual schedule, (4/7 days a week) I need to churn out 1875 words a day to meet my goal. This isn’t as daunting as the 3200 a day I attempted in April! I’ll be most active on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Participant in word sprints:

I love word sprints. I hope to get involved in lots in July. There is something motivating about writing as a group for 15 minutes and posting a word count at the end. Sprints make me want to keep up with everyone, and it helps to know that others are writing at the same time!

Plan a few scenes:

‘But you’re a pantser,’ you might cry in protest. Yes, I am. But at this point, the natural flow of my writing has fizzled out. I need to list the scenes left to be written, and finalise my plot.

When I do plan, it’s pretty in depth. Behold, some of my plan for my recently re-plotted chapter one! (Thanks Nick, this chapter was completely different before you came along!)

plotting c1
These notes are real notey… I get lazy, I abbreviate, but it helps!

My plans are allowed to be full of typos, spelling mistakes, abbreviations and grammatical errors. What matters is getting the ideas down in a way that I can understand later! 

Spend time outside:

This may seem counter-productive, but it’s really not. I write more when I’m not distracted by my PC (*cough* Twitter *cough*). I take a notepad and a list of scenes to tackle. I sit outside, usually at the beach, and I write by hand in my notebook. Sadly there are no turtles at my local beach, but there are killer seagulls who steal sandwiches!


Hurdles to overcome in my work in progress:

  • Introducing my MC: Originally, Arckia was lonely and had a lot of long internal monologues. His new friend Nick helps introduce Arckia in a more active way, but he also has the potential to hijack my story. I need to chain him down and establish where he fits.
  • My Supporting Characters are without my MC at one point. This highlighted an issue: Most of them aren’t developed enough. I need to define them, and my bad guys, better.
  • My Plan: When I started writing, I planned as I wrote and wrote everything I thought of. I waffled and have a bunch of scenes I can’t use. I need to cut scenes and restructure plot. 

How I’ll overcome my hurdles:

List all of new character Nick’s scenes to work on at Camp. Scene lists are how I roll when I get stuck, and they make great prompts for word sprints!

Plan the last few chapters. At the moment, they’re a mess. I need to know where I’m going!

Use the snowflake method on my main characters, good & bad, to flesh them out and get to know who they are. Here’s Arckia’s snowflake:

This was thought provoking (and spoiler provoking, hence blanked bits!)

The points above are:

  • Situation that one avoids.
  • Greatest failure, regret, or mistake.
  • The lie the character believes.
  • Deepest worry.
  • Emotions that result in pain.
  • Wounding event.
  • Relationship issues.
  • Secret that causes shame.
  • Greatest fear.

Potential stumbling blocks:

Plot Bunnies: (Find a way to deal with them!)

I love having new ideas, but NaNoWriMo is a poor time for them. The focus is supposed to be on one project. Sunday Scribbles gives me the opportunity to work on a different small project each week. During NaNo, this is a blessing and a curse: It’s a break from NaNo, but it gives me new ideas. Last Camp, I had two new plot bunnies jumping up and down demanding attention.

My university campus also had bunnies. They were also distracting when I sat outside to write 🙂

I’ll be honest, I suck at ignoring the little guys. I usually allow myself the distraction, and make notes for their stories. It’s the only way I can get rid of them!

Burnout: (Set realistic targets.)

Some days, usually a few in a row, I get demoralised. I feel burnt out. I hate everything I’ve written. Life gets in the way. I failed my last Camp NaNo goal by 2000 words. I pushed myself too hard, and my goal was too high considering other things were going on in my life.

This time, I won’t push myself so hard. I’ve set a realistic target based on what other commitments and potential stresses I have in July. I’ve also worked on quelling negative thought patterns. In the past couple of months, I really feel like I’ve come out of my shell 🙂

A big tortoise, rather than a turtle, but it does have a shell!

Distractions/Life: (Plan around them the best you can.)

In July, I have two days in Cambridge, a hospital appointment, and a week off with my partner. I think my target is manageable considering these factors, but I may need to write more some days, or write more days a week to make up for non writing days!

Anyway, I’m going back to my music and my plan. Meeting 30000 words will still be a challenge, but it’s one that I hope I can achieve!

Thanks for reading! I hope that my process was interesting and my tips were useful!

Are you a ‘Turtle writer’? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo July? Are you someone who leaves everything until last minute, like me, or are you a planner? What are your biggest distractions? I’d love to hear from you!


  1. Good luck with Camp! Tales from Dragonspire sounds cool!

    I feel I’m better as a ‘turtle’ writer, though I can write fast, the quality goes down and the plot tends to derail.

    I’m also aiming for 30k this year and, personally, would like to make a habit of writing daily. I’m a pantser, (unfortunately). I start with good intentions to plot, but lose patience. I’m aiming to, at the very least, have people/things named and areas mapped out.

    Biggest distractions are most definitely the internet, social media, youtube ect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on taking on this challenge! I want to do this in November or December with my next book. I have a tight deadline and feel a little stressed over it, but I don’t want to rush either. Did you get to achieve your goal in the previous NaNoWriMo?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks 🙂
      I’ve always seen NaNo as a double edged sword. It’s great for getting lots of words out, but I find that sometimes my quality suffers.
      Last November I managed 65000 words, but it was pretty stressful because I pushed myself so hard to meet word count goals. Sometimes NaNo can be the push needed to get writing, sometimes it can lead to burnout!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t heard of turtle writers before but I’ll definitely be checking that out. I’m also doing Camp Nano, I’m not sure how well I’ll do but I like that it’s more relaxed than Nano which I failed miserably at last year 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Turtle writers are definitely worth a look 😀
      Good luck with Camp NaNo: It’s much more relaxed, so long as you set realistic goals 🙂 I’ve succeeded in NaNoWrimo before, but I stressed myself out a lot doing it, so decided to take it easier this time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great blog post, Louise! Makes very interesting reading, especially to someone like me who’s never tried NaNo!
    Thanks for the lovely plug for #turtlewriters – we appreciate it!
    Wishing you luck with your word count!

    Liked by 1 person

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