I felt like I was the “last kid to leave camp” this morning as I logged onto the Camp NaNoWriMo website. I went in to get a final look at my word count progress and delete all of my emails (I don’t know why I wanted to do that–it felt like cleaning out my closet, I guess), and get the YouTube link to all of the Virtual Write-Ins. I’ve integrated all of my words into my current manuscript file, and now I’m ready to move on to the next phase: forming these ideas and starts of ideas into a complete draft of my second novel.
This was my first foray into the NaNoWriMo world. I have wanted to try writing a novel in a month for a while, but November is always a time filled with grading papers, hosting family, and other things. (November is National Novel Writing Month.) When I heard about this July NaNoWriMo camp (from Joynell Schultz’s blog) , I thought this is perfect timing! I needed to stop continuously revising my first novel (and instead work on my queries and getting it out there) and actually start creating my second. The idea and a partial outline for this novel had been completed for years, now it was time to draft the thing!
While I didn’t reach my goal (and forgot to change it in time), I did find this month helpful for my drafting process. To borrow a section from my Weekend DIY Girl posts, here are some awesome lessons I learned during July that could possibly help any writer or anyone trying to make it through a project.
1. Virtual Write-Ins are awesome! Camp NaNoWriMo had a weekly virtual “write-in” where we received themed writing prompts and wrote as many words as we could in the time allotted for each prompt. I attended 3 out of the 4 sessions and was amazed that I could write in such a small window of time (even sometimes with distractions around me). Virtual Write-Ins taught me a few things: how to look at my story differently, how to buckle down and focus, and that writing is not always linear. At first, some of the prompts or even themes didn’t readily jump out at me as applicable to my story, but after I thought about them, I could see a way that they could fold into my novel. For one prompt, I wrote about two of my main characters getting stuck walking home in a snowdrift. Will I use this for my final draft? Who knows! But this did get me thinking about how many crises points and conflict scenes I had in my novel (my outline was lacking). Virtual write-Ins also got me focused on writing for an hour in a week where sometimes I could barely find enough time for eating and sleeping.
2. Dares make you think. Each week we’d get at least 1 #CampCarePackage (an email that gave you great writing resources). In each care package was a dare–daring your a character to do something or daring writers to place a character in a certain situation. Some of these I couldn’t use for my story, but some of these made me think: why WOULDN’T my character do that? How would they look if they did? What would the scene be? This has given me more action for my story.
3. The idea of cabins can work, if you have great cabin mates. Everyone that has been to camp knows that cabin mates can sometimes become close friends and great advisers. Same thing here. The cabin mates I had were a little lean on the chatter, though. With the few that did talk, they were very helpful, encouraging, etc. I wish I had a cabin full of them; they can give you that motivation you need.
4. Adjust your goals for your reality and sanity. I think one reason I wanted to write this post was to go over the positive things that came out of Camp NaNoWriMo. Why? Well, because I felt that not reaching my goal put a damper on my “camp time.” It’s almost like when you are leaving a camp and you realize you didn’t get to do something you wanted to do; you don’t want to have any regrets, because that’s what summer’s about–no regrets. If I had adjusted my word count goals and my expectations, I think I would have initially felt that everything learned was that much more valuable.
5.Writing a novel in a month can be fun. I could see myself doing this. I do plan on signing up in July again, and maybe even this November. It’s a hair-pulling, crazed, wildly creative time, but it’s a great time.