Summer Camp, one of our biggest events, is almost here! It’s an opportunity to create, share, and grow. It may also be an intimidating and exhausting prospect —and that’s why a solid preparation is key! Anvilites Jacklyn and Tyler, creators of the Ethnis universe, are here with their best Summer Camp tips to make the most out of this July!

Hello! Jacklyn and Tyler here, though you may have seen us around as Ademal and Barron on the World Anvil Discord. We are the creators of Ethnis! Ethnis took part in the very first Summer Camp, and is now at 865,000 words across 1,173 articles. We know a few things about Summer Camp, and we’re here to tell you how to tackle it, Ethnis-style.

Summer Camp tips: it starts with Preparation!

Cultivate a good mindset with a healthy expectation of how long it may take you to complete an article. Estimate based on your longer scenarios, not your best case—the point of Summer Camp is not just to push our prose, but to learn pacing.

How long does it take you to write an article? And how much free time do you realistically have? Divide one into another. How many articles do you think you can knock out? Aim for that goal, whether it’s 10 prompts or all 31. Remember that at the end of the day, this is meant to be a fun endeavor. Do not stress out, be conservative with your estimates, and keep track of days you may not be able to write!

This estimate forms the first half of your Summer Camp pledge.

Here’s World Anvil’s official post about how to make a Summer Camp Pledge document!

Making your Pledge Document

Now that you know about how many articles you can do, let’s focus on what they’re going to be about. The danger of worldbuilding is that it can be an infinite process, so it’s good to focus your efforts so that all of your articles are building towards a certain goal.

Odds are that you’re reading this before seeing the prompts, so you don’t yet know what the prompts are. Having a focus topic means prompts are easier to answer and will feel cohesive with each other. For example, in Ethnis we are focusing on a pair of planets. For your world, it may help to focus on a specific region, or a specific people.

Now write yourself a pledge:

We pledge to write 31 articles focused on two Ethnis locations: planet Saumai and Junkberg Bermuda.

Now, you try it! If you’re interested in expanding your pledge and setting some more bounds for yourself, we recommend checking out others’ pledges here and watching the World Anvil homework streams. Here’s our full pledge article!

Tracking your progress

Now that you know what you’re going to do, we recommend creating a tracking sheet. A tracking sheet began as an Ethnis tradition and has since become commonplace in World Anvil. Everyone has their own way of making one—some are elaborate and some are simple—but the idea behind them is the same: a Google Sheet to track your ideas and articles. Here’s ours for this year.

Summer Camp tips for July: The Journey

Once the journey is underway, the trial begins. Remember: the point of Summer Camp is all about pacing! The prompts are staggered throughout the month, so there’s no point in planning an all-out race from start to finish unless you’re planning to do it in one day towards the end of July.

Control your pacing

Since the prompts are staggered, so you should try to stagger your pacing as well. You could do one a day, or between five and ten on weekends. Whatever you choose, don’t forsake self-care during that time! Stay fed, rested, watered, and in a good mindset—the temptation to suffer for art can be strong, but it’s also the fastest way to burn out!

If you need a break but still want to feel productive, why not review some other article ideas from the community? Or just talk about Summer Camp to others. You might just get inspired!

Avoid Perfectionism

Perfectionism is the bane of worldbuilders. Our craft is one of infinite granularity—we are archaeologists uncovering our paracosms, usually by devouring the knowledge of the real world. We can become so lost in the creation of languages that all other worldbuilding is waylaid; we can spend years documenting the geophysics of a planet’s tectonics; we can get lost in the clothing and fashion trends of the setting. Builder beware!

We aren’t going to tell you how deep to dig into your setting. It’s your setting, and every ounce of effort you put into it is a labor of love. However, we are going to give you some advice which we are both bad at following: keep an eye on the goal

Keeping an eye on your goal

Ask these questions to yourself:

  • How do you want people to interact with your setting? 
  • What details do they need to understand first?

During Summer Camp, you are going to get 31 prompts. Focus them. Each time you get a prompt, jot down all your ideas for it, then think over each one and choose the one you feel most drawn to, or which you think will best explain something critical about the setting.

Talk to folks in a friendly discord, bounce your ideas off of others, but take every bit of advice with a grain of salt! Again, this is your setting.

Write minimally for the prompts. Shove all your ideas into an article, regardless of quality. Don’t let yourself pause and rewrite, note it down and save it for later. There will inevitably be a few you want to polish to show off before Summer Camp ends, but trying to make each one a fully-polished experience is not required! There’s plenty of time after Summer Camp and before WorldEmber to polish those out, which gives you a rather nice to-do list for the next few months!

Summer Camp is an event we look forward to every year, and if you pace yourself and enjoy the journey, we’re sure you will too.

—Jacklyn and Tyler, Ethnis.

Make sure to share your best Summer Camp tips in the comments! And make sure you’re following Ethnis on World Anvil! We’ll see you on Summer Camp!