Camp Nanowrimo 2017 Day 1

In addition to the regular Nanowrimo even in November, there is Camp Nanowrimo in April and July. I didn’t participate in April, but my fellow #TurtleWriters on Twitter convinced me to join them in July.

Camp Nanowrimo is different from the regular event in several ways. You get to set your own goal (go ahead, set it as low as you want and rejoice in meeting your goals!), you can revise, write short stories, nonfiction, ect, and you can join a cabin.

The Cabin features is possibly my favorite part. You can join a random cabin or choose one filled with friends or people with similar interests. (I’m in the #TurtleWriters cabin this year) The cabin is basically a chat section where you can cheer on your fellow cabin mates and complain about how behind you are.

If you already knew all this, I apologize. Thought I’d sum it up for my family/friends dutifully following this blog so I’m not talking to myself.

I was originally going to work on a detailed outline for my Untitled Mystery Series so I’d be well-prepared for November, but a few days ago I got a better idea.

My novel Running Away is about a widower raising a little girl. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to return to this novel and get started on revisions. I thought a good way to do that would be to write a short story, a prequel, something I can share for free and (hopefully) build interest for the upcoming novel. The prequel will explore Clarke’s first days after he loses his wife and the support his large family gives him while he struggles with the sudden single parenting of an infant.

father photo

My goal is 10,000 words, but I’m going to go where the characters take me. If I feel the story has been told before then, I’ll move on to one of my many unfinished projects or try to stockpile some blog entries for when I’m feeling uninspired.

All blog entries this month will include my current word count and a short update on my progress.

Day 1: 1,124 words.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo? What are your goals and what are you working on?

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How Nanowrimo Changed My (Writing) Life

I was nineteen the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). I wrote about 2 thousand words and quit. It had been a whim and I was by no means surprised that I hadn’t finished.

I’d never finished a story in my life.

Not really, anyway. I’d been writing for around a decade, and I could count the number of things I’d finished on one hand. And I wouldn’t have needed all the fingers. I’d certainly never written anything close to 50 thousand words.

The next year I purchased Chris Baty’s book No Plot, No Problem. I read it from cover to cover. I decided I was going to try again.

It was 2005 and I was in the process of moving to New York State to live with my sister. My laptop had broken in October, so I was waiting for my new one to come in the mail. I spent the first two weeks of the month with a pink notebook, scribbling until my fingers were screaming and writing the word count at the top of each page (I literally counted each word separately).

When I finally got my laptop, I was behind. I wish I remembered how far behind, I just know it was a lot. I had to type in two weeks of words as well. It seemed impossible.

A couple hours before the deadline, I validated my novel.

That last week was a blur. I remember sitting cross legged on my bed, with trashy court television shows playing in the background, typing as fast as I could. Somehow, I had made it.

The feeling was indescribable. I had never written that much in a year, let alone a single month. I couldn’t believe I’d done it. I ordered a winners t-shirt to commemorate the occasion. (That t-shirt finally became so transparent it had to be thrown out a couple years ago. I wore the heck out of it.)

Over the next 11 Novembers, I participated in Nanowrimo ten times. I won nine out of those ten times. I completed eight novels (2014/15 was the same novel). In 2016 I had to give up at 40 thousand because my mom had knee replacement surgery.

Nanowrimo changed my life. My writing life at least. I learned how to turn off my internal editor and just write. I learned how to let go and let my characters do my own thing. I learned how to finish.

I left that first novel alone until January 1st, when I printed it out and eagerly read it. It was terrible, as predicted, but something amazing happened.

There were scenes I had no memory of writing. Best of all, I wasn’t as terrible as I’d expected. I’d learned so much about my characters. I suddenly saw the holes in my plot. Best of all, there were some gems in that first draft that I never would have seen if I hadn’t finished writing it.

In 2014 (and 2015) I decided to revisit that first Nanowrimo novel. In two Novembers I achieved a new personal best: 100 thousand words on a single novel.

I couldn’t have done it without Nanowrimo.

 

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