Time for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Hello friends!

As promised I’m back again this week with my official Camp NaNoWriMo announcement post in which I will share my personal goals for the month-long event and some tips for my fellow busy bees who are crazy enough to want to join me on this journey.

In case you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event that happens officially twice a year in April and July. These events are more relaxed than the official NaNoWriMo event that happens in November in which a 50K novel is the official goal. In Camp, you can feel free to set your own goal and write whatever you want, including scripts, poetry, or even revisions.

I will personally be trying to write a really short first draft of a new novel idea I developed in March.

Disclaimer: This post will not be helpful if you don’t know what you want to write. I do hope by publishing this post two days before it starts so that hopefully you have enough time to scrounge something together!

Word Goal

Because of how busy I anticipate April being, I’m only setting a goal of 20,000 words, which translates to roughly 667 words per day.

Tips

This is my final month of my final semester of grad school so I have a lot of things to do. I have three final projects to complete, all of which involve 12-15 page papers due at the beginning of May. I also have to keep up with my regular tasks of assigned reading and grading which is part of my job as a TA. Oh, and I really need to start looking for jobs! So taking on Camp NaNoWriMo right now maybe is not the best idea, but I’m doing it anyway!

The tips I have to share that I know will get me personally through this month in one piece are:

  1. Be Organized. To do lists are my best friend. I write one every week at the beginning of my weekend. I plan out everything I want to accomplish on each day. And I break down larger projects into discrete units so I have more boxes to feel good about once I’ve marked them off. :)
  2. Set a Reasonable Goal. I’ve done this by setting only 20,000 words as my goal which means roughly 667 words per day. I think this goal should be achievable on top of the writing I will already need to do for my regular assignments and my final papers. Additionally, I think its enough that I can write it in about an hour of uninterrupted writing.
  3. Utilize Writing Sprints. Don’t underestimate the power of writing sprints. Particularly if you feel like you don’t have enough time blocked off to write. The Camp NaNoWriMo official Twitter page if likely to host several sprints throughout the month. You might also encourage your writing buddies to partake in your own writing sprint parties! (Who says you can’t be social during a NaNoWriMo event?!)
  4. Plan Ahead. If there are some days of the week you just know you will not want to write, then make sure you get extra writing done early so that you don’t feel guilty about it.
  5. Don’t Fall Behind. There’s nothing more disheartening than falling behind on something when you still have so many other things to do. That’s why I plan to start Camp off really strong this weekend on April 1st so that I get that rush of achievement early on and do not feel guilty if I don’t manage to write on my busiest days (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Plans

Camp NaNoWriMo begins on April 1st, which this year is Saturday so if you’re a real go getter you could stay up Friday night and start writing right at midnight if that sounds exciting to you. I personally think I may wake up early and have myself a little write-in after breakfast. My plan is to get a good head start early in the month and write a lot during the weekend. Ideally I’ll work on my novel a little every day, even if it’s not properly writing.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo too, let me know in the comments! I hope write weekly updates, but I don’t feel confident committing to that schedule. If I have blogging time I also want to do other posts, some of which I hope will go up next week, so stay tuned for that. Thanks to everyone who’s been showing my blog some love. I really appreciate it!

Thank you for reading!
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What I Learned from Two Weeks of Writing Everyday

In case you did not know, I spent at least 20 minutes for the past two weeks working on my story in some little way, whether by writing an actual scene idea, world-building, or plotting. This idea came about quite unexpectedly and was not as easy as it may sound.

Since I graduated from Iowa State University I’ve semi-regularly kept up with my writing buddy I met there. We are each other’s main inspiration to keep going. We cheer each other on and are there to offer an ear or advice when the other is going through a tough spot. She’s done a good job keeping up with her writing throughout this time. Me not so much. I’ve jumped around from idea to idea and also managed to recycle characters and revise plot so many times I’ve realized I’ve been going nowhere.

So at the beginning of my spring break two weeks ago when my friend suggested we Skype everyday of my spring break, and subsequently hers, I was all for it as a personal goal of mine was indeed to write a little bit everyday and I knew almost certainly that I would fail if left to my own devices.

In today’s post I wanted to share some updates on my writing as well as some of the lessons I’ve learned (or relearned).

1) Getting started is the hardest part.

This is something I’ve long known and still somehow struggle with. I often still find myself needing to trick myself into doing stuff that I need to do, whether it be homework, exercise, or even reading. I tell myself “I’ll just do 10 minutes” and usually once that allotted time is nearly up I realize that it doesn’t seem so hard to just keep going.

Some days it was really hard to get myself to sit down at my desk and log into Skype. I’d feel tired all of the sudden or my parents were about to start or movie or go out and I’d get FOMO. There would be some reason that made writing the least attractive option on my plate. But because my friend knows me, she’d never let me wiggle out of our daily session and even if it was painful I could always end the session glad that she forced me to it, even if I didn’t get much done during it.

2) Twenty minutes is not enough. 

Some days it took about 20 minutes to get back into the head space I was in the previous day just so that I could move forward. These were the saddest days, particularly when I was often lazy enough to say “Hey, I did it, now I can go do something else.”

This is why I now add writing tasks to my sticky notes to-do list wall alongside my homework tasks, so that after I write during my allotted time for the day I spend separate time thinking about what I need to do next so that I go into writing the next day knowing exactly what I need to do.

But 20 minutes is still not enough to get much serious writing done because I’m unable to reach a state of flow that results in stronger writing. I’d say 20 minutes works for doing specific tasks that aide essential to proper writing, like plotting scenes or world-building, but not for diving into a story and living in it the way I need to in order to write really well.

3) Sometimes you have to give up and wipe your slate clean to move forward. 

I think I mentioned this in my last writing post, but I honestly believe that the only reason I’ve managed to have some good progress this past week is because I let go of old characters and ideas to approach the blank page with an open mind.

One thing I have not mentioned online yet is that I had to do this AGAIN. Until three days ago I’d been working on a gothic-inspired of story without knowing where it would go, only about the two main characters and how they’d meet. I’d run into the same problem of not knowing why the protagonist is important or what she’d need to do.

Then I decided that I’d start from scratch again with specific genre in mind: a detective story. Detective stories are plot driven in a way that I’ve struggled to do with my fantasy-steampunk ideas so I decided to start with the goal in mind that my protagonist would help solve a mystery/crime. Since then I’ve managed to envision the protagonist, how she needs to develop as a character throughout the story, and create a mystery that she needs to solve which will help her grow in a way that makes logical sense.

End Note

I’m confident that my story is fun and interesting enough to get me through Camp NaNoWriMo this April so I’m going to spend the rest of March dedicating at least 20 minutes to planning for April. I know the main thing that my protagonist needs to do and how I want the story to end, so I just need to work on the plot of how she will solve the mystery.

I will hopefully have a post on Camp NaNoWriMo April come up this week before I get started. I do not plan on setting a 50k word goal and I have a few different plans in mind for how I’m going to go about writing with my hectic work schedule so I want to do share my plans in case they interest any of you who are similarly busy but would also like to attempt Camp!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter,and Instagram.