Beyond Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s the end of Camp NaNo, and you probably have a first draft – or almost a completed first draft – on your hands. Congratulations! But now what? Well, if you’re not finished, completing it is your first step.

If you’re already finished and want to dive into revisions – because who doesn’t love rewriting? – this post is for you. I was looking for ways to jump into revisions in an organized way. [I’m an editor, and I’m constantly trying to learn new ways to edit on a large scale.] Handling plots, subplots, and layers can be complicated and confusing to keep track of, so I read about different authors’ self-editing methods.

By far, this one is the method I could follow. The post is long but detailed. It leaves very little room for questions or confusion. I highly recommend checking it out to help you organize your revisions to prepare to write your second draft.

 

‘Tis the season…to write 50,000 words.

It’s always around this time of year that I remember I have a blog, and I start posting with some regularity. So, if you don’t know or haven’t heard, NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. [That’s national novel writing month, even though it should be called international novel writing month since it has basically taken over the world.] During the month of November, writers take the world by storm and write 50,000 words. It sounds intense, and it is. When you break it down to a daily word goal of 1,667 words a day, it becomes much more manageable though. A 50,000 word story, for comparison sake, is roughly the length of “Of Mice and Men,” so it’s not a complete novel but it’s well on its way.

This year, I couldn’t really decide on which of the several ideas I’ve squirreled away that I’d want to do, so I’m going in alphabetical order. (I’m sure there are worse ways of going about it.)

My WIP is called “All the Pretty Girls.” I’d classify it as a YA thriller, but it has elements of mystery and magical realism thrown in too. I’m really excited about this, and I just need to take the time to plan it.

There are two camps in NaNo – planners and pantsers. Planners create an outline and stick to it. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and, essentially, wing it the whole month. I’m somewhere in between the two. I like to have a road map that shows the beginning, middle, and (to a lesser extent) the end as well as a list of characters and their major roles they play. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time planning 2654 scenes in advance – especially when I know that things tend to change while writing the actual story. (Besides, it feels too much like writing the story without having written it, and my mind just gets confused with that.)

This year, I’m going to try something a little different, and I’m going to move slightly closer to the planner camp. Because I have two small children and a limited time resource (maybe an hour or two a day, post midnight), I want to stay 2-3 scenes ahead of the story. On the first day, November 1, I will have my road map plus the first 3 scenes outlined. Before quitting that day’s session, I will add either 2 or 3 more scenes to tackle the next day. What I’m trying to avoid is sitting around wondering what the heck to write while I’m losing precious time. I’ll see how this new system will work. If anything, I’ll learn something new about my writing process. All through November, I’ll be documenting this journey of writing 50,000 words on here. I hope you join me in this literary endeavor!

If you haven’t signed up, do so here. [If you want to follow me on there and track me in real time, find me here.]

Camp NaNoWriMo

July is here, which means it’s a flurry of NaNo activity and writing. Except it hasn’t been for me. The first couple days of July, I went camping to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday. (There’s nothing like hiking a mountain while turning 3 years old!) Now, I’ve been trying to play catch up and plan the story.

It’s a cross between an adventure, coming of age, and young adult. Two friends drive halfway across the country to go to a funeral, but they learn things along the way. I’ve created the general itinerary, and now I need to write what happens in those cities. My goal is to finish that tonight and begin the actual writing tomorrow. 

My goal for the month is to write 30,000 words. This, along with paring down possessions and gearing up to move at the end of the month. It’s a busy time!

April means going to camp.

I can’t believe it’s April already. Where did the time go? I feel like I overestimated my time and energy levels once again, and I’ve been feeling inadequate, not only as a writer but as a mother too. April marks the time of Camp NaNoWrimo, a chance to create on my own terms. It’s a month-long event where everyone chooses their own word count goal. I chose 31,000 words in an effort to write 1,000 words daily. This is more about me finding my voice and getting back in the groove of writing.

Day 1, I wrote 500 words. Exactly half of my goal. I couldn’t be disappointed, though. It was more than I had written in a few months. There’s always more time to catch up with the extra words. With my story being started, I’m seeing that it’s easier to jump in and write. The blank page isn’t mocking me.

I’m finding that I create freely post-midnight, after both my children are asleep. (This is also the only time I can put down my infant without him freaking out.) Unfortunately, I also notice that most days, I’m too exhausted to haul out the computer to release that creativity.

It’s all a learning process, and I can’t wait to find a system that works for me.

Are you participating in Camp? How do you juggle multiple commitments with writing?

Success – NaNo 2015 & beyond

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This is the first year I feel like I can honestly say I won NaNoWriMo. It wasn’t just reaching the 50,000 word goal this year; I’ve done that before. For me it was about sticking with a project and holding out for those 50,000 words. I ended up writing a grand total of 81,546 words – the most I’ve ever written on a project. Guess what? It’s still not finished! While I wanted to finish a first draft for NaNo, I don’t feel like I’ve failed my goal. I’ve gone further than I’ve ever gone before, and, to me, that’s the most important thing. I have improved.

 

December has been difficult for me. Since I managed to write every day for 30 days, of course writing would be constantly on my mind during December. Yet, here I sit on the fifteenth, with zero words written during the month. Yikes! I’m close to the end. I can feel “The End” burning on the edge of my fingertips. I just can’t seem to get myself to open the document to write more. I decided, yesterday, that enough was enough. I needed to just sit down and figure out all this mess. And I did.

I discovered that I only have 17 scenes left in the story. (Actually, it’s 16.5 because I’m in the middle of the scene. Can you believe I ended NaNo in the middle of a scene, and I didn’t have the wherewithal to finish it? Neither can I!)

I have a goal in mind. I want to finish writing that half-scene today and write 4 scenes per day after that. My end goal is to finish the first draft on by midnight on Friday. I’m giving myself some wiggle room, though. Since I’m pregnant and exhausted after getting home, I’m extending that deadline to Sunday, which is my hard deadline. I want to print the entire manuscript on Monday and start planning WIPs for 2016 that evening.

By sitting down and figuring out where I was, I realized that I didn’t have anything to be worried about. I was closer than I thought! By writing out an action plan and creating soft and hard goals for myself, I have an end in sight. In fact, it’s so in sight that I feel that sense of urgency even stronger than I did before.

Time to get typing!

Writing while pregnant.

I’m 31 weeks pregnant, and I’m also a writer. These seem like completely unrelated facts, but I assure you one affects the other.

I’ve reached the NaNo word goal of 50,000 words, and I’m ahead of my monthly word goal of 90,000 words. This should be good news, right? Well, not really. I’m just over 50,000 words, but I’m only in the middle of the story. My goal, my true goal, is to write a completed first draft, and it’s looking like I’ll need more words than 90K to do so. And for that, I am behind.

I’m sitting in bed trying to catch up on words, and I’m participating in these fun word crawls I found on the NaNo forum. Except I can’t really focus at all because this baby is kicking, jabbing, and prodding me constantly. Sometimes I feel like he’s in a starfish shape because he’s everywhere all at once. And the ribs. Oh, the ribs are so tender right now from being used as punching bags (or those pieces of wood that Karate kids break in half).

It’s difficult to focus on typing words, much less figuring out what the heck to type, when this is happening. (And all of this is without the help of caffeine!)

For now, I’m grinning my way through it because I have some serious catching up to do if I hope to finish.

Sunday goals:

  • Write at least 5,000 words. (Total count: 56,000)
  • Plan the rest of the scenes until the end of the book (or get a rough outline written).

 

Validation for NaNo, being a writer, and being alive.

I have an informal writing blog on Tumblr. It’s a place to keep snippets of quotes and images that I find inspiring so I can revisit them often. During NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, I update frequently to feel connected to a blogging community.

Tonight, I stayed up until midnight to validate my word count on the NaNo website. I wrote this blog post afterwards and published it on my Tumblr blog. It tells parts of my story about being a writer, the struggles I’ve gone through with feeling like a failure, and how my mental illness has contributed to my writing journey.

Day 20 validated

Spoiler alert: It has a happy ending.

 

I wanted to share the post, even though it is more informal than not, because validation is something I struggle with on a daily basis. After talking with several writers (and non-writers), I discovered it’s a universal battle. By sharing the post in several spots, it’s my hope to reach as many people to help inspire them to continue to reach for their dreams, whether that includes writing or something else.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that life is a journey, and sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and not give up.