Tag Archives: Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp in July: Motivation Stops Here

Camp Nanowrimo has famously been difficult for me, except for a couple of times. I do this to myself, of course, over and over, because I must be a masochist. Really, I’m just ambitious. After finding my groove with an older story again, wanting to finish and spurred on by my great energy with the revision of my erotica in April, I picked up where I left off.

And got firmly stuck in the mud, days later.

This has had to be my worst month. I didn’t really keep track of wordcount. I could barely get myself to write every day. I was avoiding the camp website. It was sticky and awful and kind of depressing, to be honest.

I was also having the hardest time trying to figure out why it was so hard for me. When I know there’s a goal in sight, I’m usually steadfast toward it, and make great strides and bounds. This time it was like my neck was craned back, staring up at a billboard that I thought was too high to climb, with a ladder right in front of me.

I refused to think it was motivation. I’ve wanted to write and finish this novel so badly. Inspiration was all there, I knew how to tap into more, how to get my mind going.

But there it was, at the eye of the storm. I wanted to write but I didn’t want to. Were my ideas good enough, was I making enough sense? Had I really read through the more crucial chapters again and actually gotten a feel for what was going on, so I knew the tone to start off with? How was my pacing?

Every question just came at me. I didn’t want to accept it, but I couldn’t deny it, either.

More commonly known as Writer’s Block, it sucks. And sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it but let it pass and relax and not worry until it leaves you the hell alone. Trying to force it away may or may not do something for you.

Even now, I’m having a hard time getting through this. I question my credibility and my ability and whether or not I’m getting off topic or staying on track. Everything is questioned, because I don’t know if I should trust myself or not just by plowing through something. Quieting those questions can be harder because there’s always a nag at the back of your head wondering if you’re doing it right, and that you don’t want to have to overhaul it completely…

It’s the Hot Mess Express, and I’m the conductor, apparently.

But it makes sense, when I think about it boiling down to trust. Trusting myself and what I do and how I do it makes me less likely to move forward. Friend has been having a particularly nasty case of writer’s block as well, where he’s very uncertain of himself. Along the same lines, where he wants it to look good and be a long, great read, but it’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot for him to live up to with every piece and he’s not trusting himself to simply write and come up with something, at all, that’s readable.

The big hurdle here is to let go of all of those insecurities and just do it. Forget everything holding you down and just go. But that is much easier said than done.

Hopefully my NaNoWriMo experience won’t be this terrible. I’m looking to do just as well as last year, if not better. I just have to find a story I want to write…

-The Novice Wordsmith

 

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Last year, in January and onward, I was working on a piece that would turn into a project I’d pick up in April and try to work on for the Camp Nanowrimo of that month. I was sluggish and it was difficult to maneuver through it; though I had a general idea of what I was doing, that was pretty much all I had.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, when I’m about to close out the front of it after doing something of an overhaul on it.

I find it kind of funny, really. I’d sort of been on autopilot with it after camp, and then I just kind of faded and stopped working on it. In August, I found new momentum with it. Parts of the whole story that had once been difficult to tell and sculpt together were coming together with ease. I knew how the story got started, I had villains, I was making a stronger novel out of it. A proper one.

A year after going into it somewhat blindly, with only some interest to back me up, I finally found out how to run with it.

It’s sort of odd in its own way. Usually when I find myself interested in writing something, I actually manage to turn out a decent story. Now I wonder if I just plainly wasn’t ready to write this one at the time. It’s a new experience, to deal with this, seeing myself flounder at first and now flying through it with renewed fervor.

Partially, it reminds me of the ideas we have when we’re young. Our first ideas, the less developed ones we’re rapt with in the beginning and then they fade off, and we pick them up and then they fade off until eventually we get our fingers around them again and don’t let go, to the point we finally finish and have a product we’re immensely proud of and were excited to finish in the first place.

I have yet to get to that part, the forever-with-me idea from my youth, turning it into something, but I’ll get there eventually. It being a supernatural story in essence, I fear it’s been done to death.

But other than the undead story that off and on held my attention, I seem to always come back to one genre. I think we all do, really, we have that go-to that speaks to us and finds us better than the others, because we enjoy writing in it and we’re confident with our knowledge.

My go-to genres seem to be sci-fi, but not action, and not horror or thriller or crime (though I have a space opera waiting to be worked on some more), no. It’s drama. The nitty gritty of social gossip and class warfare in the name of romance. Maybe not so much class warfare, but I think you get the idea.

And for having all of these incredible actiony ideas and blow-you-away profoundness, I feel like it makes me come off as frivolous or silly. But I’ve always loved love. Writing erotica this November was like breathing. Nothing felt challenging about it part from working out pace and flow and how it ended and when things were figured out, so nothing to do with the genre. Writing romance is just my passive skillset, I think, and I love it.

One guess as to what this story is from last April that I’m bounding through now. Yeah. No surprise, right?

Which is why I mention coming back to that genre. You always have something you return to, something that feels comfortable, something you know you can push through with ease. And you’re so good at it because it interests you so much, it gets you thinking, it pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

And no matter what it is that brings you back, over and over, don’t ever feel bad about it. Embrace it.

The Novice Wordsmith

PS- One last little mention. Speaking of Camp NaNoWriMo, it is coming up this April and in June of this year as well. It is unlike NaNoWriMo because you can set your own goal, even if it is just revisions. Give it a look-see over at campnanowrimo.org.

Boston versus Camp

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or even for a little bit, you already know that I have a relationship between running and writing. I’m in love with both, and I see parallels in both quite frequently.

So it should come as no surprise that I’m drawing another parallel, one between the biggest US marathon and a smaller, less stressful month of writing. Both, this year and last, have happened within the same time, with one Camp month of two falling on April. Boston has annually been in April.

This parallel is brought to you by my camp cabin. It had come to me while I was reading about the winners of the marathon, and the times of each. Men are obviously up ahead of women by at least 15 minutes because of natural physiology. Depending on ethnicity, physiology also plays a huge role in how fast a runner is and how much endurance they have. There are a lot of factors that go into what makes that person win, including what they eat, their previous injuries and recovery, and their style of running. Genetics can also have a massive effect on things like endurance, recovery time, and and speed.

Though pace is less important in writing, depending, there is still an instinctual stakeout that I do of the top writers, those who have gotten the furthest in the month. I may not have been able to write as early as others in the cabin, but consistently, I was ahead of the pack.

If you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo has a feature that allows you to “bunk” was 11 other writers in a cabin, to help push you through the month and influence and inspire you. That is the charm of camp, it’s not just you, there’s more with you trying to achieve goals unique to themselves and their writing. Both Friend and I are a bit competitive and definitely ambitious, and seeing others up where our wordcounts were made us want to surge forward.

Being toe to toe with others in a race not only helps you push yourself, but it helps you understand what you’re capable of. Sometimes, you’re going to push too hard and fall out of the pack. The pace is going to get more than what you can handle with everyone else, too much for you to sustain.

Other times, you’re going to be the one setting the pace, and it’ll pull you ahead of everyone else by a longshot or a short one.

I have had very little competition this month so far in terms of wordcount. The closest behind me is 13k short of catching me. I am going to probably break 50k by the end of the month when my goal was 35k and I hit that on Thursday.

This morning, while reading the live tweets of the Boston Marathon, after the women’s winner was announced, I found out that her last time in the race was 2012, and she didn’t finish. This time, she surged ahead in a sprint to win it.

I know it’s ridiculous to compare, but it made me think of struggling through November, how difficult it was for me to finish that novel and do it well or do it any justice. How worried I was about my work and progress. I limped out of November 4k above the goal, and had even stopped writing two to three days before it ended.

Camp is different. Six months later, I’m above my goal and searching more to finish the small novel instead of stopping just because I got where I need to.

Writing, unlike running races, doesn’t stop when you break the tape at the end. It stops when you say it does, when you’re satisfied. In the case of NaNoWriMo and the Camp series that they have, the end of the event may serve as simply a checkpoint for some of us, depending on just how big the story is. Writers have a race to run that takes much longer than two hours and nine or twenty-four minutes, but ours can be taken as slowly as we need to, and with as many people as we want to involve.

In the mean time, I think I’ll grin at my early victory and hope this November goes a whole hell of a lot better than the last one. My training for it should be fairly simple. 😉

– The Novice Wordsmith

Slow Your Roll

In the midst of challenges, pushing yourself and reaching for ambitious goals way above what you’d set for yourself, there’s a need to slow down and take things easy. That need is often overlooked.

I’m not unique. I’m not the first person constantly looking for challenges to round out my writing and make it better, and I doubt I’ll be the last. Usually, my option, and my desire, is to go above and beyond, that when I decide to relax, to go slower and pick up an easier prompt, it feels like cheating. Or I simply feel bad for going easy on myself instead of using all of my ability.

But sometimes, you need to slow down and be good to yourself. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not going to be work.

The inspiration from this comes from Camp NaNoWriMo being around the corner. My choice for next month is to pick up a mild story, something short. I love writing, but being able to sink into it at my own pace instead of gunning for fast and furious feels good. To enjoy what I’m writing and mold it how I feel fit.

Like many of my other posts– though probably not enough– I stress that it’s good to slow down, to take a break. You’re allowed. It doesn’t always have to be push and shove and ambitious reaches for the sky. Breathe and let your writing flow, or take the day off.

I realized a little too late that most of the motivational things I’ll see aren’t very good at reminding you that some days, you’re not going to have the push. You won’t be able to get behind the ball you’d been rolling and keep it going. Some days, that ball is going to feel like a ton and others it’ll feel like a feather.

And consciously choosing to make sure the ball is light is perfectly fine. You know yourself best. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you should be doing more, because they don’t know what your disposition is like. They’re like Jon Snow in that they know nothing!

Nothing is saying you won’t crank out quality work if you go with something simpler, either. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to be good.

If you want to write a short story about vampires, go for it, find what works, and what you like best, and run. Just because it’s been done by other writers– and made worse by some…– doesn’t mean you can’t try it yourself.

The point of Camp NaNoWriMo, and any writing in general, is to enjoy it. Whether that means pushing your limits or kicking back is all you.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Camping Update: Finale, also known as “Can we get to 50k anyway?”

In the beginning of this whole thing, my friend and I decided, for the sake of his sanity more than mine, that we’d focus only on getting to 25k, and collectively, 50k. The plan was, don’t strain yourself. If you miss a day, no big deal, you have a lot more pressing engagements anyway.

We did miss a few days. We skipped days altogether where we couldn’t get up any inspiration or were just more interested in watching movies or running around Calaveras county and doing whatever we wanted. I had days where I’d write 4-5k easily, and he couldn’t get the chance to write more than the 800 or so daily wordcount. We allowed ourselves to relax and not fret about it at all.

And then he finished all of his pressing work and we had three days left with 10k past our goal and we were suddenly eyeing 50k.

“We could do it if we pushed,” he said.

“I’ve written 10k in a couple days before,” I agreed.

And then suddenly it’s July 31st and we’re pulling prompts and ideas to write about from every which direction we can just to pin down wordcount. It’s about 4:45-5:00 p.m. when I realize, he has 47k and I have 43k. He was behind me before he finished his work and now he was kicking my ass like he was teaching me the meaning of it. Not to mention he’s got two hours on me.

So now it’s 11:45, and I’m at 45.5k words, and I’m okay with that. I wonder how much of that was my personal thought of, “I can’t do this,” though, but to be fair, I had dragged myself in deep with being as wordy as possible about everything my MC was encountering and it was dragging me down something fierce.

I will say that I’m kinda glad for July to be over. I think we might finish the story out anyway, afterward, but it’s kinda hard to tell. I’m ready to jump back into other projects and lose myself in the other different ideas and sprawling storylines and the new ones too. Speaking of, he and I had just picked up another story and finally got running with it, so that bodes well.

That story is my first foray into being the “dungeonmaster” of a joined project, so it is providing to be an exciting challenge.

Anyway, all in all, winning Camp Nano with soaring colors this time around, and it feels good. Now the countdown for NaNoWriMo begins!!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Camping Update: Rolling up the Sleeping Bag

I got an extra day in California, and with it, we banged out the last of our goal wordcount for the month. We sacrificed finishing watching a movie, but we had finally found a really strong rhythm for writing that we were having a hard time with the entire week and didn’t want to let go. So we didn’t.

I may not have gotten much sleep because of it, but it was very worth it.

My 3pm flight on Friday got knocked because the plane was having mechanical issues, which I’m grateful for, really, and while I could have taken a flight out at the same time at a different airport, there was no way I was gonna make it. Honestly, I rather liked having the extra time with him and a couple other friends.

So, the 7:30 am flight out the next morning had to do, which was fine, and very productive, because I got a lot of writing done in the span of four hours. I think I knocked out about half of the chapter I was working on, which ended up being just over 4k words altogether, and got an idea or two out of my head and into RTF.

Unfortunately, my next chapter afterward has been stalling for a bit, and we’re being faced with the fact that we strung out the story long, so we may not finish this month. Which is funny, because before, we were having trouble not solving the mystery too quickly.

Technically now, we can hand in our wordcount and get winner’s validation in return, and the temptation to finish the month’s story out slowly is creeping up on us. We still have seven days left! And to be honest, I am quite enjoying it, even if it means I have a giant sized block on the rest of my other writing projects.

Either way, I can’t wait to see what the last week has in store for us!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Update: Not so much Camping

I spent the past six days here in California, soaking up the sun and the heat and the beauty of the land, and I’m just in reach of my 25k goal, with 325 words to go. Mostly, because I’ve been so much more interested in everything else than writing. I’ve had a lot of learning and lessons on this trip, but the writing mojo has been limited because of everything else there is to do.

I have another several hours of travel ahead of me tomorrow, but I’m not sure how much writing it’ll help me get done. Really, we’re kind of at a stand still, where we need to do joint chapters (which feel a lot like roleplaying sometimes), but we’ve been so much more interested in all sorts of other activities to make much headway. Not to mention, he’s had to do work, there have been a lot of naps after coming home from a whole day in the heat, and then there is my need to run at this elevation and without all the humidity.

Still, overall, it’s good for me. I’m ahead of the curve, and this is the first time that skipping days of writing hasn’t super squicked me out. So, progress. In one way or the other.

-The Novice Wordsmith

A Camping We Will Go: Update

We’ve hit week two of Camp Nano, and me and my friend are still trucking through. I am, for once, actually writing more than he is, but I have an unfair advantage because I have nowhere near as much work to do as he does. Originally, he wasn’t even going to do the month, but I’d expressed an interest and we found an idea we liked.

During the previous Nano Camp, I had the worst time ever. I hit a major block, barely grabbing 25k out of my 50k proposed goal and making very little productive revisions.
I am a lot happier with this month’s progress, obviously. It helps me realize that I was only having a bad month and that I blew out of the funk that I’d dug myself into and I am very thankfully, doing better and writing better.
I found it odd in April, because usually I am very motivated when I have a wordcount goal. I know what I need to do and I do everything I can to reach it, but when I put my revision goal in there too, it helped me feel like I’d actually do it, too, since I’d been putting it off. Instead, what I got was clogged up, unable to write or think well and just absolutely sputtering out. It was an upsetting month for me.
Luckily, I can say that I haven’t glanced back at that… whatever, had caused that to happen. My thought was that I’d spent a couple weeks waiting for my laptop to be repaired, in an old room that I felt like I had no business being in. Maybe it just threw me for a harder loop than I expected.
I am not being thrown for any loops this time! I’m at about 21k of a 25k proposed goal, and I should finish by tomorrow or the next day.
I should be happy for the long flights ahead of me tomorrow, too, on my way out to California, but I fear for my laptop’s battery. Layovers are good things that help you recharge, though! I’ve never had a flight come in so late, though, I’ll be touching down at 11:30 eastern and I’m central time, so it’ll be about 1 a.m. my time. Damn. Still, very much looking forward to it.
Anyway, the writing is coming along well. This is my first time doing a joint project, but I’m really liking it so far, and having a partner is very fun. We’ve been blazing through the story and we’ve still got 21 days left!
A little frustration goes to not feeling up to par with my vocabulary as usual, but I’ll get back to normal soon. And, mystery is new and exciting, I’ve never done it before, but I didn’t know if I’d be good at it. So far so good, though, even if I’m a little sketchy about it. It’s all about hiding things and figuring out how to find them, and who finds them and why, and while i know how to do that with some developments, I’ve never made it the whole MO of the story.
If anyone has any suggestions or tips, I’d love to know!
-The Novice Wordsmith

A Camping We Will Go, With NaNoWriMo

Last night, I mentioned that I was doing Camp NaNoWriMo, and then gave a short explanation. Tonight, I’d like to expand on that a bit, for those who don’t know, but I’m going to start with a more basic explanation.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a sort of sister program to NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in the month of November. There’s a website made from the organization that puts the event together (http://nanowrimo.org), and you can create a free account and track your wordcount through the month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge for everyone to take on, to write 50,000 words toward a novel, to dedicate as much of your time and effort to a new idea, or just to see how well you can do it.

There was a motivational letter that went out at the end of November, or I think it may have been in the revision months of December and January, where an author wrote about a friend of theirs saying they failed. The response they gave was, “No, you didn’t fail, you tried, and that’s what matters.”

It’s more about growth as a writer, is the point; whether it’s that you want to write as many words as possible, or you want to finally give some life and body to something that’s been knocking around in your head for a while. That you tried at all, made any kind of effort, is really what the event is about, letting creativity reign.

Unlike NaNoWriMo proper, Camp NaNoWriMo is your chance to write whatever you’d like, it doesn’t have to be a novel. You can do revisions, you can write short stories, you could get some prompts out of the way that you’d had stored up for yourself (read as: something I do for myself), or even use it as motivation to work on something you had in the works before.

NaNoWriMo, or as it’s also frequently called, NaNo, is a very big event, that people all over the country take part in with kick off parties, some at midnight and others in the middle of the day. Some travel across to collect locations on where they go to kick off the month, meeting new people each time. Throughout the month, there will be more meet ups, word sprints, word wars, tons of different things you can do through the forums to help your motivation, and even an IRC chat (I think) that they host.

With 50,000 words, the daily average is 1,667 words, or 1700 if you want to round up.  Which, I will say, if you haven’t worried about wordcount before, may not seem like a lot at first, but it is. It’s certainly enough to make a difference, but don’t let it intimidate you.

I spent last year going, “what is camp nano?” And this year it was, “Oh! These are the months!”

Each year, they change the months, but they’re always in spring/summer. April and July were this year and I believe last year was July and August. So they change annually, but it’s still an invitation to get you writing daily for a couple of months.

A fiction writing professor that I had said several times that if you’re going to get serious about writing, you should have a time that you sit down and do it every day. For me, at that time, I was too scatterbrained to really get to that point, but it takes time, it all just takes time, and effort, and if you’re willing to put that into what you want, you can get there, wherever you want to be.

If you’re having trouble finishing any projects, too, Nano is perfect for you, too. I was a chronic story-starter, but I could never finish anything. Nano laid out for me that I could do something from start to finish, though I admit that the first year I tried, I made it through half the month before giving up.

Whatever you can manage through the month is remarkable. Especially if it turns out a personal best. It gives you, most of all, a goal to reach, whether it’s simply writing every day, or at all, to hit 50k, or 100k, finish early, or finish on time, and even just to meet others an collaborate ideas. At its core, NaNoWriMo, Camp and the month of November proper, is a tool for you to utilize how you see fit, to help yourself. Don’t hesitate.

-The Novice Wordsmith