Camp NaNoWriMo: Why You Should Take Part!

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Why You Should Take Part

 

April 1st is nearly upon us, which can mean only one thing, right? What, no I don’t mean the day when you make fool of all your family and friends – well, it is, but no, it is also the beginning of this years writing marathons; Camp NaNoWriMo.

It’s easy to think: “What’s the point of taking part in a writing month, when the ‘real deal’ takes place in November?”

It’s true that NaNoWriMo is much more popular than it’s summer alternatives, so at times it can be difficult to find the support base (if you find one at all) to help get you through the month. Which, of course, often means that you need to move forward on your own motivation, but there are immense benefits, but the most important way to look at is, is as a:

Introduction to NaNoWriMo

For a lot of writers – including those who have done it before – the sheer notion of writing 50,000 words in just 30-days is just mind-numbingly, well, we often believe that it is not going to happen. The truth is, it is possible to do, but yep, it takes a lot of hard-work, dedication and a support-unit is always helpful.

However, despite the lack of support (although, don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of support, it’s just very different and on a much smaller scale), Camp NaNoWriMo should be seen as a “light” version of the main event. Why? Because you get full control of how many words you choose to have as your overall monthly goal.

Sure, many writers do choose to work towards 50,000 words, and some crazy so-and-so’s (who I have a lot of respect for) even go a lot high higher than that, but if the idea of writing 50,000 words puts you into a mild state of panic, then don’t feel pressurised into doing that. If you don’t want to jump in with both feet, that is okay, and no one will judge you. If you feel more comfortable dipping your toes in, to test the water and see how well you can do initially – that is absolutely fine.

Personally, I did 15,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo in 2013, and I managed to whip that out in just over two weeks, whilst other months it could take me the entire month to get that many words out – so, I guess you just have to trust yourself and your instincts.

Another awesome thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you don’t even have to write a novel, if you don’t want to: perhaps you are working on a script, or a book of poetry – work on whatever you like, because it all counts!

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself signed up and I will see you at the starting line first thing tomorrow 😉

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Camp NaNoWriMo Day 22

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMoWith a week and a half still to go of the July 2013 Camp NaNoWriMo Day 22 arrives with a huge amount of contentment. Why, you might ask? Because last Thursday, I hit my 15,000-word target.

I’m actually really surprised that I managed it, because this month hasn’t exactly been a quiet month business-wise or socially, which is why I kept the word count low. It feels strange to say: “yeah, I’ve completed Camp NaNoWriMo“, because typically at this stage I am uber stressed out, a long way away from my target word count for the day, let alone the whole month. So, it is nice to have been quite relaxed about the whole thing, without the unneeded stress levels.

It’s also helped that I had a scene-by-scene plan for this month, which I’ve consulted at the end of virtually every scene to make sure that I keep in order. Of course, I’ve added stuff and gone off the plan a little, but I’ve always found myself going back to it.

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 22

 

As you can see I have whooped my target, and the big question now is:

Do I carry on?

There’s a part of me that wants to say “shove it, I’ve done my bit” and spend the rest of the month chilling out. But, I know that I’m not going to do that.

The fact is that I didn’t even notice that I’d past my word count by, and as you can tell from where I did eventually stop last week: I carried on a long way past that word count.

The point is, that I am very much in the right frame of mind to focus on this story. I’m fairly happy with where my story is going, and whilst I’m confident about it, I think it is only right to carry on, instead of allow myself to fall into the abyss of not writing for myself.

Another point is, I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to dedicate time to writing for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing for clients, because I never know what I’m going to be working on and there is something exciting about that. But, it’s nice – every once in a while – to sit down and work on something that is mine. I don’t do it enough!

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 15

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMoAh, so it has finally arrived. Day 15 of course means that we are (sort of) half way through the month, which means that we’re half way through Camp NaNoWriMo. I can’t believe how quickly this month is going, but by the logic of things, I should be at (at least) 7,500 words out of my 15,000 words target.

So, have I reached my target?

What do you think…?

Camp NaNoWriMo 15.07.2013

 

It’s really nice to still be so motivated with this years Camp NaNoWriMo, but then I have to remind myself that I’ve been working with these specific characters for a number of years now, and the ones that have been around since the beginning (I recently dropped two characters, and changed another character) I feel like I know them quite well now.

That sounds really crazy, but I remember an old episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch, when Sabrina’s teacher told her her story wasn’t good enough, because he didn’t believe that she knew her characters well enough. Ever since then, I’ve been a huge believer that a writer must know their characters like they are their best friends.

I’m starting to find it easy to just “know” how two of them in particular, are going to react to certain situations, and that is making it so much easier to write.

Camp NaNoWriMo 15.07.2013 (2)

As you can probably tell from the graph, I took a bit of a break from writing over the weekend, and I have felt a bit guilty about it, because I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back in to the groove. However, I’ve been quite glad to have given myself the opportunity to take a break.

I do think that it’s good to get into a strong routine when it comes to working on novels, however, taking a rest from it is the only way that I am going to keep my sanity – especially with the weather being so nice at the minute.

So that’s how things are going for me, and I’m really glad to be able to say that I haven’t gotten stuck (so far) with moving the story forward, and I know exactly where I’m going, which is really nice 🙂

 

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

Camp NaNoWriMoSo, I’m in that predicament again, as Camp NaNoWriMo approaches and I have to decide whether or not to participate. From past experience, I want to say outright “no”, because I never seem to take it as seriously as I do the November NaNoWriMo. However, since I’ll be turning 30 this November, I just know that I will not have enough free time to actually sit down and write for at least half of the month. It happened both last year, and in 2011, where I got left behind due to birthday celebrations, but as I say, this year I’m expecting to get distracted even more. Oh NaNoWriMo, why can you not be in October when my life is a little quieter – not December, because well, y’know December has Christmas and there’s no way I’m going to have the free time!

Therefore, it would appear that this year’s writing craziness is going to take place in the month of July.

This decision of course opens up the question: What am I going to write?

I know that the idea behind NaNoWriMo – in general – is to work on a new story. But, I hate following the rules and since I have so many novels in the works, I thought I should concentrate on finishing one of them, rather than adding another idea to the ever-expanding pile of “Not finished” ideas.

I actually have six stories currently in ongoing progress, and since I couldn’t decide which one to work on, I decided to write them all down on pieces of paper. The one I picked would be the one that I dedicated July to working on:

Stories on paper

And which one did I pick?

This one:

Felicity Camp NaNoWriMo

I don’t know why but I was a little surprised – in a good way – to pull Felicity out, because it’s the only story that I’ve worked on to the full 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo in 2011. I really love the story behind this one, but I’ve had an issue with a couple of the characters – well, one in particular, because I’ve never felt 100% happy with their personality etc. I’ve also had a few issues with confidence about a certain plot development that centres around this character, and I feel like I only added the plotline in the first place to give this character more meaning.

It’s funny, because I’ve always been of the conclusion that if you have trouble shaping a character, then it’s time to dump them. My problem is that he has too many connections within the story as a whole, I’d be left with an enormous hole without him. And that is when I realise that I’m not having as much trouble in reality, as I let myself believe.

So, yep, this is what the next thirty one days are going to be all about. I’m not doing the whole hog word count of 50,000 words, but rather, the nicer and lighter 15,000 words, which is still a challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

Wish me luck.

Good luck to everyone else taking part 🙂

What is a “Real Writer”?

Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo

Earlier today, I received an email from GoodReads telling me that an author that I follow had added a new blog post. Sounds boring, you might be thinking and to be honest I very rarely ever read them, so what influenced my decision to read this one, I’m not entirely sure. But the point is, that I did and boy am I glad that I did.

Basically, author Catherine Ryan Howard was having a little rant about snobbery, generally from published authors, towards people who participate in NaNoWriMo. The idea being that anyone who does it, isn’t a “real writer” and that they are tarnishing the name of “real writers” blahblahblah. You get the picture.

But, it raised the question: What is a “real writer”? Some people seem to come to the following conclusions:

  • A published writer is a real writer
  • However, a self-published writer is not
  • Someone who has been writing since birth is a real writer
  • Someone who started writing last week is not
  • A person who spends a large amount of time working on a novel, is a real writer
  • A person who can write a novel quickly, is not

To be perfectly honest, I think that this is a load of old rubbish. As far as I see it, as long as you perform the act of sitting down with pen and paper, a laptop, a typewriter, chalk and the pavement or whatever and wherever, and actually piece things together then you are a “real writer”.

Of course, a person might not be a very good writer but surely that is personal opinion and who is to say what is good anyway?

It sounds absolutely ridiculous that we are even having this kind of debate. The world of literature is so broad, that surely there is room for everyone? Does it matter how a book was put together? Is the point not about content? Plus, just because a first draft of 50,000 words happened to have been written in the space of 30 days does not mean that that is the end of the process. I don’t think that anyone is going to try and publish what they write during NaNoWriMo, because I don’t know about anyone else, but what I write during those days is generally a load of rubbish. But that isn’t the point. The point is that I have 50,000 words to edit, mix around and re-write so that they work out into something much better.

It’s almost as if these “real writers” think that we’re trying to publish our 50,000 words of crap, when we’re actually not. A lot of time – post NaNoWriMo – is going to be put into working on second, third etc drafts.

We are all Real Writers. We all have the same dreams.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo August: Day Three

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing
Ah, so here we are again, this time with Camp NaNoWriMo Take Two. I actually got off to a pretty slow start, purely because I wasn’t feeling it with the story I’d been working on, back in June, so I decided to go in a completely different direction. The problem? I didn’t exactly have any idea which direction I wanted to go in. So, two days before the challenge was due to begin, and I went into crazy panic-mode unable to figure out which story to work on.
As a result, I ended up starting a day late, but fortunately, I still managed to catch up to the recommended word count, and my current total is:

I spent a large part of yesterday in the Library hand writing my story, and then typing it up on the Other Half’s Mac PowerBook, which isn’t my preferred method, because I detest typing up notes. And what I detest even more, is when the internet goes whilst you are typing up your work on Yarny.me, and you lose over 3,000 words. It’s one of those occasions when I was glad that I’d been typing up notes, because at least I had the basics of the story still there, unfortunately, I’m also one of those writers who can not just type it out straight, I have to add bits and expand on things. I know it’s perhaps not really in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, but I can’t help it.

Nevertheless, after typing up my notes for the second time, I appear to be back on track, and I’m back to using Microsoft Word to type up my story, in the hope that the internet playing up won’t effect it!

The Story

The story that I’m working on is actually one that I started writing about five or six years ago. At the time, I’d stopped working on because an American television series came out that was incredibly similar to it (not entirely, as it panned out, the series was virtually nothing like my story overall), and I also got to a point where I felt that the story had gotten a bit too “big” for me. By that, I don’t mean I didn’t feel like I could write it, I just felt that I had over-complicated things, and I wanted to tone it down a little and rope it in because over-complicated isn’t just difficult to write, it’s also difficult to read. I obviously didn’t want that.

Stepping back into this story has come amazingly easily, and I feel happier with how things are flowing with it. Yet again, I’ve reverted to third person, but whilst with my previous Camp NaNoWriMo attempt I had struggled to keep it in third person, this one has come a lot more naturally, and I feel comfortable with it.

So far, I am loving work on this novel, so fingers crossed that feeling sticks around!

Camp NaNoWriMo Conclusion

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

It’s now July, so you might have guessed that Camp NaNoWriMo has finished, and needless to say, I didn’t complete it. In fact, I didn’t even make it to the half-way point, with Yarny.me informing me that I managed a grand total of 24,304 words. I really thought that this would disappoint me, but to be fair, I think I got in a little over my head doing it in June, purely because it was such a busy month for me and I lost a good week or so of opportunity to write. I then hit a brick wall with one of my characters.

Basically, the story centres around two leads: one that I absolutely love, and the other…yeah, not so much. I’d started to find him boring, and a little two-dimensional, and as a result I’d begun to grow tired of writing about him. Ultimately, I’ve decided to completely overhaul that character, give him a personality transplant and basically create a new male lead who is much more interesting.

Inevitably, this shake up has pretty much changed the whole dynamic of the story, with a lot of what I’d written – having involved the boring male being well, boring – having to be thrown at the window, at great speed.

To be perfectly honest, I feel a lot happier with my story for doing this. And yeah, I know that the whole point of the NaNoWriMo is to not scrap anything until the second draft, but the way things were going, in which I kept hitting them consistently irritating brick walls, I was never going to make it to the second draft…not without wanting to kill people off anyway. So, I think that I did the right thing, for my story.

So, what now? 

I’m certainly not giving up, and I’m not going to let my failure to complete Camp NaNoWriMo get me down, because as I already said, I took too much on, and was never going to be able to complete it without going slowly insane. So, I’m focusing on taking the next one, in August, a lot more seriously, and I fully intend to keep the same story at the forefront.

I know it sort of feels like cheating by going back to the previous story, but I should point out that those over 24,000 words have diminished to just over 2,500 and it’s taking a totally different path to before, so it really does feel like I’m starting fresh, just with the overall basic roots of the story still there.


Positivity saves the day, yet again 🙂

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Report: Day 6

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

As you can see from the word counter above, I’m still doing really well on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m feeling really very chuffed with myself. I’m quite proud because every single day, so far, I’ve managed to keep my word count way above the line of where it’s recommended I be at, in order to finish on time, as you can see in the below graph:

The orange “bars” represent my word count for each day, so far – see how close I am to the very first milestone of 15,000 words? – and the diagonal line heading upwards is the target that I need to hit each day.

I love being ahead of the game so early on, because it gives me a little breathing space, further down the metaphorical line, allowing for slump days or even days off, which is kind of nice to know.

With regards to the actual story, I am loving the freedom that comes with not having a firm plan to work to, as I did last November, which at the time, I had felt far to restrictive for the way that I personally feel that I write my best.

As this is a story idea that I’ve worked on in the past (although I have started completely from scratch this time around), I have a fair idea about where the novel is heading, however, I’m loving how differently the characters are getting from A to B this time around, compared to past attempts. Noting that these are characters that I have been working with for around five years, and the only thing that has changed about them is the years in which they live, and the amount of detail that I have (initially) gone into, is only basics, for now, I feel like I’ve finally reached into their souls and this is the story I’ve been looking for, for a very long time.

I’m certainly enjoying writing this novel more than I did writing Felicity, which is sad, because for a story that I felt so “attached” to, I’ve grown to wonder if I’ve taken it down the right path, and I’ve got lost in the umming and ahhing of it. But this one, I feel much more content with.

Fancy another sneaky peek? Well, here ya go:

Richard woke with a start, and for a moment couldn’t quite place where he was. His head was throbbing, but he eventually managed to fathom that he’d  spent the night sleeping on the kitchen floor. And now he had awful back ache. And if that wasn’t bad enough there was an incessant ringing inside his head. A ringing that wouldn’t go away. He hit the side of his head, knocking him awake just enough to realise that the ringing was actually the doorbell. He dragged himself to his feet, and over to the Intercom.
“What?” His mouth was dry, and he sounded raspy as hell.
“Richard, it’s me. Let me in.” Recognising his younger sister’s voice, he leant hard on the Intercom until he heard the door click after her indicating that he didn’t need to keep holding the door open, in fact, he probably didn’t need to be holding it down for so long anyway! He unlocked the door and threw himself face down on the sofa. Maybe he could suffocate this hangover out of him. Probably not, he thought, but maybe death would be easier than this.

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Report: Day 2

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

Considering that I haven’t planned out this novel, as I did in November’s NaNoWriMo, I seem to have gotten off to a really good start, which is encouraging! I have, however, amazed myself with how competitive I’ve become this time around, and I’m feeling much more determined to write. With work being quiet at the moment (feel free to send some work my way, to change that ;P), I seem to currently have plenty of time to dedicate to my novel.

Last time that I did NaNoWriMo I opted to share all of my writing on a blog, but I’ve decided not to do that this time around, because let’s be honest, the whole purpose of this task is to just write, not to read back, and definitely not to edit anything. But not editing spelling/grammar mistakes, and errors with tenses always draws people to leave negative comments, which is kind of counter-productive when that really isn’t the point of the task in hand.

However, for anyone who is interested, here is a sneak excerpt of the story that I’m working from. As a quick note, this isn’t the opening paragraph and I’m not sharing where in the novel it features, because it’s meant as just a little teaser 😉

Under normal circumstances Lucy would have turned around and clawed the life out of Geoff Bergstram, the man who for two years, three months and five days was having an affair with her mother. But that day, Lucy didn’t have any strength left, as she slowly sank to her knees and the next five years of her life melted away…

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

Back in November 2011, I successfully participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and since I’ve recently been getting back into the writing vibe again (meaning that I’ve finally overcome the fiction writers block that followed on from last November’s crazy 50,000 word marathon), I thought that this was an excellent time to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo.

The novel that I’m intending to work on for this new challenge is actually one that I’ve already started (cheating I know), but to be fair, I’ve only written the Prologue so far, and that doesn’t count….right??

Typically, when I did NaNoWriMo last November, I didn’t get off to a great start, because I had my birthday weekend right at the beginning of the month, so I quickly go behind on the writing and only at the very last minute (almost literally) did I manage to catch up with myself. For Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be away for a large portion of the second week, as well as the following weekend, which is at least seven days when I’m not going to be able to write to full capacity. Five of those days, I will have the laptop, but I probably won’t be able to reach a high target. So, yeah, as you can imagine this is going to be a good challenge.

But, even though I remember last November being incredibly stressful at times, at least it got me writing and my novel managed to progress much further than I could have imagined, so I have strong hopes for this one.

The only difference this time is that I’m not going to be doing it for charity. I think that I’ll save the charity ones for the November challenge.

I’m starting to ponder how much preparation I should do for this novel, because I did quite a lot for last November, and to be perfectly blunt, most of it just confused me, and I ended up ignoring it, because I think that sometimes it’s good to have a more rough idea of where something is going, and from there just to allow things to flow naturally. If it doesn’t work, well that can be changed at a later date. It’s better to get something down, than to just stop because of limitations caused by a die-hard plan.

Is anyone else planning on taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo through the month of June?