Camp NaNo 2016 April — Update 1: Starting NOT at the Beginning

campnano2016-1

My Camp NaNoWriMo word count graph will lie to you. It says things like, “Wow, you wrote almost 40k in the first day!”

Nope. I started with about 37k the first day. And I’m transcribing dictation I did a week ago. Hopefully I will catch up soon and be dictating/transcribing in real time. But the graph is there to mark my progress, which has as much to do with dictating as it does with transcribing.

I’m 100% okay with the slightly skewed statistics I have, because this month of April is all about making progress! It’s all about moving forward and doing the work. For this month, I’m not starting at the beginning of a story, because I already started.

But we don’t have to start at the beginning. This goes for tracking progress AND starting your story.

Even if you’re starting at zero words, who says you have to start at the beginning of the story? Beginning is a difficult task. Sometimes you want to jump to the action (which, to be honest, is probably where you story starts anyway). This post is just to say that when you’re starting out, whether it’s at the beginning of your story, before the story starts, or jumping ahead to where inspiration strikes… it’s all OK.

As long as you get to work and work hard!

Previous: Camp NaNoWriMo 2016: How to Track Revisions, Short Stories, And Unreliable Word Counts

 

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016: How to Track Revisions, Short Stories, and Unreliable Word Counts

WHO. IS. READY.

I am TOTALLY ready.

Ready-ish.

Camp NaNoWriMo (what this is) is a way for me to jump into a month of solid productivity. Typically, I use that space to work on the novel I started in the previous November’s Nano. Since Camp is so flexible, it’s really something you can use at any stage of the writing process.

Here are their categories for writing projects this year:

  • Novel
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Revision
  • Script
  • Short Stories
  • Other

So not only are they directly giving you the option of revising for the month, it also allows for different projects like Short Stories and Scripts. And like the fallen cherry, on the bottom we have “Other.” That means that this month of April is YOURS to personalize, individualize, and dance around!

*pauses in moonwalk*

But wait, how do we track “revisions”? What if we’re starting the month with a chunk of our novels already written?

Fear not, tireless crusader!!

Abnormal Tracking Methods

| Revision |

| Scattershot Revisions, Adding Scenes, Query Letter, etc. |

I used last year’s April to do revisions (yeah, that time I forgot until April 1 that it was happening), with the specific goals of adding four scenes, writing a query, receiving and acting on beta reader materials, and focusing on a polish for the first and last chapters.

So for me, I listed 10k as my goal for the month last year. I figured that would give me some wiggle room for writing/revising the query, adding scenes, and revising on feedback from beta readers.

CampNano15

Ask you can see, it was a step-wise process.  (haha, get it? cause it looks like stairs). Each time I completed something—the query letter, the first chapter revisions, etc.—I added the final word count of that section. And later that year is when I joined Pitch Wars, which led to me getting my agent, so Camp Nano was a big part of that!

The case of the disappearing word count in day 1 and 2 was due to the fact that I wrote a query and then heartlessly crushed it with fire. That’s right. Crushed with fire. Totally a thing.

| Revising Entire Novel/Work |

This one’s pretty easy. I did it in 2014 with one of my longer-standing projects (The Amateur Witch) which is now tucked safely in a lovely trunk.

All you have to do is start revising at the beginning of the story and however many pages you get through, just highlight/word count the ms up to that point.

Quick Tip:

To get the word count of the story up to your current location, hit “Ctrl+A” (this selects ALL the text), then hit “Shift+ Right Click” on the page where you want the word count to stop at. That will leave you with all of the document selected up to your current location.

That’s how you get your current “revision” word count!

And don’t freak out when your word count shifts between sessions or by the end.

CampNano14

I got through the ms in about 1-1/2 weeks, then I spent the rest of the time trimming and cutting down.

Revision for some people involves adding meat to the bones, and for some it involves trimming away the fat. The end goal of revisions is really to get to a muscly golem creature who is more than skin and bones, but not too flabby. And that’s probably the weirdest analogy I’ve ever made for revisions, so I’ll leave it at that.

| Poetry & Short Stories |

This is where you want to know how much work you see for yourself. Are you writing a set of 35 poems for a collection? Are you writing a series of 5 stories or 20? Are you doing flash fiction or longer stories?

This is when you want to take a look at your previous works of poetry or stories. What’s your average word count for each? Do you work in longer works, where your stories are regularly 10k+ or where your poems are 100+?

Either way, all you have to do is a bit of math.

Multiply what you expect your number of stories/poems to be by the average word count. That gives you your goal for Camp!

 

Final Word Count Issues

So what happens if you get your 6 stories or 20 poems written, but your final word count is short of the estimated goal you set at the beginning of the month? Or if, through revisions, you cut a bunch of words, and now you haven’t met your “goal”?

Unlike November’s NaNoWriMo, the monthly goal is totally flexible. You can change it at any time!

The spirit of Camp is to get the work done and put in your time and effort. Given the nature of poetry, short stories, and revisions, it’s tough to nail down a prospected word count. Keep in mind that for Poetry & Short Stories, it was an estimated word count goal, but it was grounded in a more specific goal of how many pieces you’re producing.

The same goes for the revisions! Your word count “goal” was your current word count. That is of course going to change throughout the month. At the end, all you have to do is adjust that Word Count Goal to match your splendid accomplishments!!

 

Join Me!

I’m always more than willing to have writing buddies throughout the NaNo process! My username for Camp is ink.weaver, so shoot me a buddy request or an email if you want to hang out or chat throughout the lovely month of April 2016!

NaNoWriMo 2015 #1— An Experiment in Insanity

I’ve done NaNoWriMo before—successfully sometimes, dread-failure others. NaNoWriMo is the best way to go insane: on a schedule, in a large group, and with no regard for the safety of others.

I tend to warn people when it’s coming.

“Watch out, loved ones. I’m going to go crazy for exactly one month. And then also more than that.”

“You know how I’m an adult, and I’m decently good at shopping, bill-paying, getting to bed/work on time, and general friendliness? The entire month of November will be an anomaly in that system.”

“You’ve reached Rebecca McLaughlin. I’m unavailable to talk right now, so leave a message, or better yet check back with me two fortnights after the first frost as long as the frost happens on November 1st… so basically come back to me in December, but also maybe Thanksgiving because that’ll be where I get the fuel to power through the remaining week of November: the power of left-overs. THANKSBYE–beeeep.”

It doesn’t matter that I’ve done it for years. Last year, I had a spontaneous Book Idea seven days before November. I sketched and drafted like a maniac, flinging post-its and whiteboard markers around the room like a Tasmanian devil. Then I sat down and started writing THE NAMELESS QUEEN.

But because I simply cannot be contained to a single month, it took until mid-February for me to finish the colossal 150k rough draft. I chopped it down to 127k, and got accepted as a Mentee by Laura Salters The Fiercely Fantastic as a part of the fantastic Pitch Wars contest.

Pitch Wars lasted for 2 months, September and October, and I polished it from 127k to a glimmerful (yes, that’s the word I’ve chosen) and palatable 105k. Of course, that’s in addition to rewriting huge chunks, adding new chunks, moving characters like chairs in a game of Let’s Move The Chairs Because Logic (And Because We Can).

The Agent Round (*trumpet sounds*) begins tomorrow, November 3rd. That marks the official end of Pitch Wars.

And the trumpets sounded!

You might have noticed that in a post about NaNoWriMo, I’ve talked a lot about Pitch Wars. That’s because despite having just spent an entire two months in a whirlwind of huge revisions and hard work, I’m diving into NaNo like it’s my job. Which it isn’t, because I have a proper day job that’s also competing for these few wintry daylight hours.

I’m diving into NaNo like a crazy person. A CRAZY person.

Remember how this is an experiment of insanity? Yep. It is. I could snap at any moment. Like a twig under the foot of a creepy forest serial killer.

See? I just compared myself to a twig. And my comparison involved a serial killer.

You should probably run away. Or at the very least, hide all the coffee.

Eternal THIS would be my heaven.

So. Recap. I’m jumping into NaNoWriMo. Join me, if you’re on the edge of insanity and want a gentle push. And by gentle push, I mean I’m going to grab you by the hand, shout like a maniac, and pull you with me as I leap out into the void of NaNo Craziness. FUN RIIIIGHT? *as we descend into the insanity pit of November, with only the scent of turkey and glimmerfulness of snow to lure us out.

Take my hand, won’t you?

Sudden Camp NaNoWriMo — 2015 July

AH. It’s July 1.

Between paying rent, planning for the 4th of July weekend, and being a human who uses Internets and Electronic Devices, I should have seen this coming.

Aside from errands and holidays, I have one major issue:

Today is the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’m not prepared. I just finished inputting my hard-copy edits into the computer. Now I have 4 scenes to write/edit (which hopefully won’t total more than a few thousand words).

Then I want to send it off to a couple beta readers (Twister and a friend) who haven’t seen it yet.

This means I won’t have a lot of actual writing to do this month. Sure, I have anywhere from 3–5 other projects I could work on. But I’m in the middle of revisions, and I don’t know if my brain can handle a whole other project.

And I don’t know if I have a hefty enough revision load left to fill a whole month of productivity. I’ll be in more of a slump of letting my brain recuperate while the beta readers sink their teeth in. (And while I nervously stare at my texts and emails, waiting to hear back.)

Historically speaking, I don’t tolerate inaction well. I can hardly go a day without drifting and then diving into a project. Maybe I’ll spend my off-hours reading instead of writing? I’m already knee-deep in Maureen Johnson’s “The Name of the Star.”

I sort of want to work on expanding the premise of an idea I had for Cold Blood, but I don’t know any deeper details of the character or plot (I don’t even know the MCs gender yet!).

What I can do, however (since Camp NaNoWriMo is quite flexible), is set myself additional revision goals.

Camp NaNoWriMo Goals:

  • Write 4 scenes that need to be added.
  • Polish the first chapters.
  • Write a query letter.
  • Polish the last chapters.
  • Receive and address feedback as it arrives.

Hopefully, these things will keep me busy enough for the month. Especially if I throw in some books to read and some premise-expanding!

Anyone else out there diving into Camp NaNoWriMo?

Anyone else diving in last minute like me? (I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE)

New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Today is the last day of 2014, onto a new odd-numbered year with many a month ahead of writing, stressing, editing, drafting, proofing, planning, and brainstorming.

Amidst all the chaos, these past few days have prompted in many people a desire to self-reflect. Take a look back on the year. How did it go? Good things? Bad things? Miracles and tragedies? Fortune and despair? Fear and luck?

Or maybe your life is a bit simpler for now, and everything about 2014 was like a bowl of tomato basil soup: a bit viscous, with a bit of spice, but overall singularly flavored.

Soup of life… and submarines.

One thing’s for sure. If you’re a writer, then your life can be as exciting or dull, flavorful or flavorless as possible, but a sea of words, art, imagination, creativity, and stress still rage about like chaotic flecks in a shaken snow globe. No matter the highs and lows of this last year, at some point, words have brought us joy (along with myriad other emotions).

That’s what writing does. That’s what it’s good for. No matter if those words were in the form of reading or writing, books, poetry, music, speech, or just the scribbling of dreams on the margins of paper.

The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions was always something I sort of shrugged at. I’m not opposed to making decisions and goals that positively impact my life. I just always thought that those sorts of goals should be made on an as-needed basis instead of being lumped together on a single Eve where the spirits consumed might immediately rob you of the memory of making them (aka: drunk people forget things).

HOWEVER!

After experiencing NaNoWriMo for the first time, I changed my tune. I began whistling praises instead of criticisms, because I finally realized that National Novel Writing Month is the same thing as making a resolution. It’s a time where it forces people to take action (through culture or opportunity) and to make goals, decisions, and promises.

Now, making silly half-promises like “Eat less sugar, lose ten pounds, work out more, spend less, eat less takeout, etc.” are all well and good, except we almost never adhere to our word.

So let’s talk about a more sacred word than our half-assessed oaths. Let’s talk about writing.

Let’s make promises we know we can keep, promises we actually will enjoy keeping. This New Year: Give your word to give more words. Write, read, experience, and create.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

  • Read ten, twenty, fifty, 100 books? Let Goodreads keep you accountable with their 2015 Reading Challenge.
  • Write a book? Try breaking it up into smaller monthly goals. Aim for a monthly word count goal, or to work on X number of pages of drafting/revising/etc.
    • Use Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July.
    • Use your own word count tracker (Microsoft Excel, or the one built into Scrivener, etc.)
  • Write a number of pages/poems/stories? Maybe pin/tape them up on your wall as you finish so you can urge yourself onward to do better and to remind yourself of the work you’ve already done!
  • Keep blogging? Instead of making the vague promise to “keep blogging,” get a monthly, weekly, or daily goal to update the little slice of internet you call home!

When writing (books, poetry, or a blog), it’s better to have shorter, more condense goals, tracked by the month or even week. That way, the project doesn’t seem so insurmountable or daunting!

My writing goals for January:

  • Finish writing my current book, The Nameless Queen.
  • Read at least one recreational novel (might have to wait until I’ve finished writing).
  • Post to my blog at least twice per week.

I even know a couple from February:

  • Read Victoria Aveyard‘s debut novel, Red Queen(No plagiaristic connection to my book, I promise. Though I can’t be sure; hers hasn’t come out yet.)
  • Take a short break from writing and do some hardcore reading.
  • Or go back and fix blatant plot holes/errors in my book.

What about you? Do you have any writing goals for this upcoming year/month? Any books you’re looking forward to reading? Any books you’re looking forward to writing?