HP Month: Camp NaNoWriMo & Harry Potter

I think for me Harry Potter and writing will be inextricably linked forever.  Harry Potter wasn’t the first book series I got hooked on, the first fantasy series I loved or even the first series I got totally obsessed with, but it was the first series that truly sparked my imagination outside of the scenarios the author had created.  It’s the first – and still pretty much the only – series where I love imagining how the characters and the world would deal with other situations.  Waiting between books, I would throw myself into the world of Harry Potter fanfiction, reading about all my favourite Harry Potter fanon couples, or fun but totally AU plots.  I loved reading it so much I started writing it.  The first, and indeed the only, time I’ve ever won NaNoWriMo it was writing Harry Potter fanfiction, and that sparked a love of writing I might never have found otherwise.

It only makes sense then, that even though I’m tackling original fiction for Camp NaNoWriMo this year, Harry Potter will still be involved somehow.  I’ll be writing fantasy (of course), but Harry Potter will be – hopefully – guiding my writing process a bit more directly too.

Enter – The Harry Potter Word Crawls!

You have to log in to be able to see them on the NaNoWriMo forums, but basically a word crawl is a list of prompts, each associated with a word count or task, which you start at the beginning of and work through in order.  For example, these are the first few tasks in the Harry Potter Year One Word Crawl:

You receive your Hogwarts letter by owl and are completely ecstatic to head out for your first year at Hogwarts. Sprint to 100 words to let out your excitement and energy.

You arrive in Diagon Alley and your first stop is Gringotts, wizard bank. Write for ten minutes. The amount of words you write will determine how many Galleons are in your vault.
Less than 100 words: 1 Galleon
100-200 words: 2 Galleons
More than 200 words: 3 Galleons
Less than 150 words: 1 Galleon
150-250 words: 2 Galleons
More than 250 words: 3 Galleons
Less than 250 words: 1 Galleon
250-350 words: 2 Galleons
More than 350 words: 3 Galleons

You step into Ollivander’s wand shop. Roll a die and multiply your roll by 100. Sprint to that many words.

Finally, you’re done shopping! But before you leave, you decide that you want to purchase a pet. Write for 15 minutes as you search for the perfect animal for you. Pick one: owl, cat, or toad.

There are seven word crawls in total, one for each book.  As you work your way through to the Battle of Hogwarts and the end of Year Seven, the tasks get more difficult.  Hopefully by the end though, you have a lot more words than you otherwise might have done!

There’s one more way Harry Potter usually ties back in to my writing process: background noise!  I love the Slytherin Common Room ambient mix, which stops me writing in silence, but isn’t distracting – although sometimes I change the frequency of the door slam 😉  It works great on it’s own, or in combination with the Parchment & Moss playlist.

My goals for Camp NaNoWriMo

Well…. I’m reviving the project I started in NaNoWriMo 2016 (which I completed HP Word Crawl 1 and 2 during!).  Sadly, while I have a vague idea I basically just made it up as I went along during November’s NaNoWriMo…right up until the point I hit a wall where I realised my overall idea doesn’t actually have a plot! I’m still at that point, so I’ve no idea how Camp will go. On the one hand, I hope if I power through the wall it’ll be a big breakthrough and I’ll eventually finish the story.  On the other, I’m worried I have no clue how to fix it and I’ll be at the end of this month with either the same word count or an additional tiny number of unrelated words that don’t move the story along at all!

So with that in mind, I’m setting my goal at 15,000 words, and hoping to get through at least the first two Harry Potter word crawls.  And hey, if it doesn’t work out, then come November I’ll either be taking on a new novel idea or I’ll be throwing myself back into fanfiction 😉

NaNoWriMo Update: Week 2

 Day 8: +2399
Current WC: 10554

Day 9: +0000
Current WC: 10554

Day 10: +0000
Current WC: 10554

Day 11: +0597
Current WC: 11151

Day 12: +0506
Current WC: 11657

Day 13: +0429
Current WC: 12086

Day 14: +2133
Current WC: 14199

Average words per day: 760
At this rate I would finish on: ….January 5th
Words needed per day to finish on time: 3579

Wow, this week was a bit of a failure, in case you hadn’t noticed…. And I’m actually writing this the day before week 4 begins and can tell you that week 3 is a failure too. Oh dear!  Not giving up just yet though….

If you’re taking part too, how are you getting on?

6 weeks to NaNoWriMo: AKA how to not give up before you even get going

So, there are 6 weeks until NaNoWriMo 2016 which means it’s beginning to seriously invade my thoughts and my sensible-brain is warring with my impulsive-brain incessantly about whether or not to sign up.  I’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo once, back in 2011 and I’m really hoping to make 2016 a second successful year, although my circumstances now are pretty different to how they were back then:

  • I now work full-time, compared to ~15 hours a week of university lectures + however long for assignments
  • I also volunteer one day a week
  • My successful year was as a rebel, working on fanfiction, whereas this year I hope to write original fiction
  • I was a pantser last time, and this year I’m experimenting as a plotter

Last year I hoped to take part, I talked about it briefly, and within about two days I’d given up, so this year I’m starting early with my planning and organisation to try and give myself the best odds. I figure there are three potential big danger-zones I need to work on:

  1. Making sure I sign up in the first place

  2. Making it through the first week

  3. Continuing with the effort until the end of the month

Addressing these three danger zones doesn’t guarantee winning – I could try all month and not hit 50,000 words – but they’re the reasons I’m most likely not to TRY.  If I try and don’t hit the goal, I’ll still consider that a success and buy myself a cake because I am a sugar fiend (though of course, winning would be a bigger success and I’d buy a bigger cake).

Making sure I sign up in the first place

 – Get excited about taking part

For the next two weeks I’ll be brainstorming ideas, creating pinterest boards and generally doing anything I can to try and come up with a story idea I love and can’t wait to write

 – Minimise excuses NOT to sign up

Blogging: Throughout October I’ll be taking part in Blog Ahead to schedule as many posts as I can for November – which also happens to be sci-fi month, one of my favourite blogging events all year! – so that I can take a step back from blogging if I need to.

Reading: I’m hoping to build up as much of a head start on my GR challenge as I can before November begins – while I’m sure I will definitely still be reading, it might be a bit less than normal, since I’ll be trying to squeeze in writing time too.  As well as trying to gain some momentum on my GR challenge, I’ll also be brainstorming a list of manga and graphic novels I’d like to read ready for breaks when my brain is feeling a little frazzled throughout November!

Work/Social etc: There isn’t really anything I can do to make work easier, but I can ensure friends and family know I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo. This both ensures they understand why I might be a little less available than normal, and hopefully also gives me a few cheerleaders!  I’ll be trying to make regular plans as much as possible so that I know that say Wednesday evenings are movie nights, or Friday evenings are gym sessions etc.


Making it through the first week

 – Have a starting point

The last thing I want to do is get prepped and organised and then be intimidated by the dreaded blank page!  I want to have an opening scene pretty well planned out so that I know where to get started.

 – Have an outline/Novel Binder/Some form of helpful notes!

Like I said, last time I succeeded I was very much making it up as I went, in full NaNo spontaneity spirit. But, NaNoWriMo isn’t against planning, and whereas fanfiction gives you characters and settings you’re very familiar with to play with, this time it’ll be all new.  I don’t know yet whether I’ll have a detailed outline, a random collection of bullet pointed notes or a binder Hermione Granger would be proud of, but I know I want SOMETHING I can keep coming back to.

 – Get Scrivener up and running!

Scrivener is what I used before, and while I didn’t love it, I liked it well enough.  I like the added features in terms of word counts for the day etc, and although to be honest I’m pretty happy using Word, using Scrivener just gives it the added special NaNo ritual feel.


Continuing until the end of the month

 – A NaNoWriMo calendar

I am a total geek and I love planners, spreadsheets, calendars etc. I’ll definitely have a calendar with daily target word counts etc to tick off, as a more visual representation of progress – and something that I can’t just avoid by never turning my laptop on!

 – NaNoWriMo survival box

More on what’s actually in my box to come (… when I’ve made it!) but this again comes back to the special NaNoWriMo ritual feel – guilt-free treats as reward, fun things to inspire me etc.

So, there you have my plans for how to hopefully not fail before I’ve even begun!  Since NaNo will be taking up a big chunk of my life/time/brain power, expect to see more posts soon.  Let me know if there’s anything in particular ou’d like to see, but I’m expecting some more planning, progress updates and the survival box contents!  Will you be joining in with NaNoWriMo this year?