Writing Achievements (this month)

Hurrah! I did it! I managed to make my word count goal for this month’s CampNaNoWriMo. My goal was 24,200 (the number for which you can read about here), and today I reached 24,537 – and just 19 days in.

Though I should note, that I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped to be–I wrote more than enough words, but I didn’t complete the projects I’d hoped to complete. I wrote lots of blog entries, but I fell short with my interview I needed to write up, I only got two pieces of flash fiction done, and got half way through the two series I hoped to complete. However, it was a learning experience, something I’ll write more on, later.

Also, the digital edition of the Summer 2017 issue of Carpe Nocturne was released, with three of my pieces came out yesterday. It features the debut episode of my horror series, “The Wall”, my article on the Denbigh Asylum, and I also have a tarot/astrology as well. The digital copy is available on Magzter, though the print copy takes a little while to be available. However, when it is, you can find it on Amazon, Barns & Noble, and Waterstones websites. You can also keep tabs on the magazine in general at www.CarpeNocturne.net.

Denbigh Asylum sUMMER 2017

Benefits of (Camp) NaNoWriMo

I read an article a while ago that was basically slating on National Novel Writing Month (and by extension, the rest of its events such as Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July). The article was called “5 Reasons Not to Participate in NaNoWriMo” by Janice Hardy, representing Fiction University. You can of course read the article yourself by following the link in the title of the article, but I’ll summarize it for you before providing my counter-argument.

The article articulates that we are busy being, and that writing is meant to be creative and fun, and that a daily word count goal can be stressful, which can hinder your creative process, and can hinder you as a person due to competition. If you fail to meet your goal, that can be deterring, and might put you off your project altogether. I think that essentially is the gist of it.

I will, however, give a nod, that yes, ther are some people who just don’t function in the way of pressure as a motivator. But All the writers I know, and all the other creators of anything that I know, all do really well under pressure. And for them, I’ll write this:

Five Reasons to participate in (Camp) NaNoWriMo (Plus Some Bonuses):

  1. Time is Precious
    The article I mentioned does make a good point, we just don’t have time. But I think that’s all the more reason to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and it’s camps. It helps us to learn to manage our time, and to focus on what is important. And at the end of the day, if you are a writer, then that is what should be toward the very top of the list.
    When that is your drive, then you begin seeing little empty spaces of inactivity as opportunistic. Waiting for the bus? Whip out your phone and type out a few lines in your note pad.
    What’s more, because time is precious, I look at the span of my life. I, personally, have a dozen novels knocking around in my head. And if I take three years to write each of them, I might never see half of them complete. This shows that if you break down the minimum length of a novel into 30 days, that you can easily get your first draft done in that amount of time. And you know what it means if you can get your first draft done in that amount of time? Then you can do you second draft in that amount of time, again.
  2. Competition Can Light a Fire
    I’ll start this off by picky-backing on the last point. Because once you completely that 50,000 word count, or whatever it is you accomplish in that month, then you know you can do it again. Or, you can do better next month. You can increase your word-count goal by 5,000 next year, or next month. You can say that You wrote your first draft in one month, you can probably get it revised in two weeks. Then you can have it edited again in a week. Who knows where that personal competition will push you.
    That being said, competition has been used as motivation in academics and the professional world for years and years and years. There is something fun in friendly and healthy competition. And that’s what NaNoWriMo is. You have the option to be put in a “cabin” with other writers and you can strive to keep doing better than they are, make bets with them, whatever. However, it’s that subtle push to motivate you forward when you’re feeling stuck and burnt out.
  3. Support Groups
    Speaking of the Cabins, NaNoWriMo is a great place to meet other writers. Sure it’s not face-to-face, but it’s still allowing you communication. You can run ideas by people in your cabin, you can ask them what they think of a sentence, for alternative words for something, and so on. You can get to know them and then you have a writing connection. A variety of people participate in this events, including agents, publishers, teachers, students, pastors, anarchists, social justice warriors, politicians, and so on. Each individual doing this is a resource to help you through your writing. And you are a resource to them as well.
    Also, while I mentioned that you might not be meeting those in your cabin, you actually might be able to. There are options where you can find other participants in your area who would be wiling to meet up and talk writing in person–just be safe about it!!! You can also create a cabin for you and your friends as well, which is quite common.
  4. Pressure Can Light a Fire
    I don’t know about you, but when I was in college, I could not focus on an essay until the night before it was due, to the frustration of my teachers. They would want drafts and I would hand them outlines with points and give them references. But what was because there wasn’t any pressure. I needed the pressure of the deadline to fuel me. It reaches past my procrastination-finders (such as the itch to reach for Facebook or Twitter, or the need to see what my cousin who I haven’t talked to in years is up to) and finds those wells of creativity and knowledge that I didn’t know existed.
    Forcing yourself to come up with 1,667 words a day (or whatever your daily word goal is) puts that squeeze on you. When I started my novel, I just had a conversation piece. I had no idea where it was going. Then, after trying to force those words out to get to that daily goal, I created the history of a handful of characters, their emotional troubles, their desires, their own forces forward. I created a world.
  5. We Like Numbers
    I recently read and reviewed a fantastic book called The Circle, which is all about social media and how easily it is that we get sucked into a digital world. It sucked me in purely by giving me numbers to focus on so that I could see how well the main character was doing. Numbers are a way of measuring something, a quality/quantity measurement, and we thrive off it, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.
    Participating something that makes you focus on that word count, then you’ve got a way of knowing how well you’re doing.
  6. Forming of Good Habits
    At the end of the day, the reason I got into NaNoWriMo was because it was forcing me into a daily routine. And if you want to get good at anything, you need to have a daily routine for it. Being in the habit of sitting and writing, not caring what it is as long as words are getting on the page is what it is about. It’s getting you into that habit.
  7. It’s Damn Fun
    I don’t think this needs any more explanation. You either dig it, or you don’t!

So that’s my argument to the initial article slating NaNoWriMo. I would love to hear what works, what doesn’t work for you during this time. Do you participate in CampNaNoWriMo? Do you think it’s just obnoxious? I want to know!

Organizing Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, as long-time readers will know, I’m big on the Camp NaNoWriMo thing. I participated last April, and managed to completely neglect my set project of finishing an article series with the aim of 10,000 words by the end of the month. Instead I actually managed to get to 50,000 words in 20 days! I was pretty pleased with myself, but he novel remains unfinished and neglected. There’s a whole mess of reasons why it’s only maybe half way complete, which I don’t really want to go into, but either way, I accomplished my goal and then some, though just not on the correct project. Woops!

In all honesty, July rather snuck up on. I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Mentally, I’m still stuck somewhere in the first week of May? I think Easter was last week, wasn’t it? Either way, July is here, in all its summery glory, and I am just completely not prepared. In fact, so under-prepared am I, that I wasn’t even going to participate at all in this Camp NaNoWriMo.

But then, I got to thinking. I realized that I have a whole slew of projects that I need to complete, and that I might as well use this month to get them done. However, July also happens to be quite busy for me.

I’m living in a tourist town in Wales, which means that as soon as all the schools let out, everyone is here. I also happen to be the manager of an ice cream shop, so that means that I don’t really get to take time off, nor does it really leave much room for slacking while I daydream about my projects. In fact, what it does mean is that I have to be here a little later each day so I can do the stock ordering, and in the mornings I have to be here a little earlier in order to deal with the stock being delivered.

On top of the general demands of work, my mom is coming over for a visit. I’m actually quite looking forward to it. However, it means a day where I’m going to get her from the airport, a three hour drive away, spending a weekend adventuring with her, and we’re also spending a day where we’re going to spread Granny’s ashes (speaking of her ashes, that’s also something on my things I’m doing next week: driving the four hours to fetch them, and the four hours back). Plus my general spending time with my mom and other family that might be in the village during that time. Definitely not complaining, but it’s adding to my schedule.

Like I said, come July 21st, the schools are letting up, and so after that, the quietness of the weekdays will be gone, so I can’t even be cheeky and write during my shift like I am now.

So, I decided that I would make a list of everything I needed doing, and try and organize my time off with little word count assignments, so that I’ll hopefully complete my projects all this month, and with minimal stress.

Actually, when I added up all the projects, how many words I expect them to be at the end, it was only something silly like 24,000 words, which is less than 800 words a day. Nothing. Easy peasy. However, I also included things I have to get done—including this blog (were you wondering why I was just waffling on without much direction?).

So, I suppose, how on earth do I help you, a potential fellow writer to do the same?

  • Make a Calendar
    There are much easier ways of doing this, one being going online and maybe downloading a calendar you can print out. You could make one in Word or Excel, you could buy a planner, you could use Google Calendar, the calendar in your phone—whatever! I drew one because I don’t have access to a printer, I was bored and had some downtime, and because I want to be able to see the whole month on one page.
  • Make a list of your Things to do for the month.
    I made a list with different sections. I made one for

    • Scheduled Events
      • I’m really good at forgetting that I have obligations, and so I have to make sure those are the first thing on my list. So for this I put down work, my mom coming into town, hanging out with certain people, the cinema opening I’m meant to go to (that one is a fib), and so on.
    • Must Do’s
      • These are my essential projects, things that have a deadline. At the beginning of this year, I had a goal for my novel to be completely edited, revised, and polished to start being submitted into the world for publication by July 1. That didn’t happen (but only because I had to completely re-write the ending and that forced me to tweak a whole bunch of other things). But that was my own personal deadline I set on myself. Now I actually do have deadlines on a few projects, which need to be done this month. Those are on my Must Do list.
    • Would Like to Do
      • These were the things that I wanted to aim to do if I had enough time, but if I didn’t get to it, there’s no immediate deadline for. I am going to university come October, and it would be a good thing if I got ahead on a few of my future deadlines, even though they’re two to seven months out. I know I’ll be busy, and knowing me (as regular readers will as well), I’ll probably get behind and stop regularity, and thus reliability. So, since I’m using this month to kick my rumpus into gear, I’ll use this month to get ahead on a few of these projects.
    • Color Code Your Lists
      • I’m a pretty visual person when it comes to organizing. So, my calendar is in pencil, my Scheduled events are in black ink, my Must Do’s are in Red, and my Would Like to Do’s are in blue. I’d actually like to vary this a bit, but I’m lacking pens (who on earth would have thought that would happen?!?)
    • Apply Your Lists to Your Calendar
      • I know, sounds silly, sounds basic. But, just do one list at a time, leaving room for other things to be added as the month goes on. I know, sounds nit-picky, but there have been so many times I just scribble on my calendar and then suddenly something important happens that I HAVE to remember, and I have nowhere to write it, so I go into other boxes and before I know it my Calendar is a mess and I don’t want to look at it because it stresses me out. Trust me, you want to be neat with this. Go one list at a time, one day at a time.
      • Also, be sure to add the wordcount for that day to your list. So for me, for example, I have to write an episode of one of my series each Wednesday, and so I put 1,000 words for the goal for that day. I have to have a piece of Flash Fiction every Friday, so I have a 1,000 on Fridays.
        • I don’t have a daily word count for each day. This is to allow me wiggle room incase one day I’m too stressed out or the day is just to busy, so I have time for a make-up day. For example, so far my Tuesdays are sailing clear. I don’t work Tuesdays, and I don’t have any projects scheduled to work on that day. So if on Sunday I don’t manage to write out my episode for my other series, then I can work on that Tuesday and get caught back up.

Writing Calendar

Now, since Camp NaNoWriMo wants you to record how many words you’ve written, and I don’t want to be going back and forth between documents and tallying up how many words each one is just so I can enter it in my little box on a website I can only access half the time because my internet is dodgy—I created a little table in Word!

Projects

I know, this is kind of ridiculous for something I’m supposed to be doing for fun. But it is fun! And there are benefits (which I’ll write about in a later entry). I will say this though: it keeps me on the ball. Most of all, it reminds me about the importance of organizing my time.

At the age I am, in the place I am, I want to do everything and anything, and it’s easy for that all to get on top of me while trying to maintain being a grownup as well. So for me, making lists, organizing them on calendars, it’s the way to sooth any anxiety, and to help me manage my time well.

I hope this was helpful to you as well, dear reader. Even if I did waffle on for quite a while there.

Making Independence Day About Me: A Writer’s Declaration

With all my time off, I’ve been able to focus on my writing, which has been a really productive thing. I’ve been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, setting my own goal to be 50,000 words in July, and writing 15,000 in two days.

And today, as it is Independence Day, I’d like to celebrate not by chugging beer and barbecuing things and causing things to explode, but rather by focusing on my writing and celebrating my own Independence.

When I decided to go back to school, it was because I was tired of being laid off from jobs because I was disposable or the business flat out died. I also wanted to get out of video production, since that was just not my passion. I wanted a job that revolved around what I love: writing. So I disguised my education as something thoughtful and smart: a very useful and versatile English degree. But really, I just want to write, and have something to help me get my foot in the door of a publisher.

For two years I worked hard in school and took on two jobs outside of school. All my time went to studying and working. Sure, I wrote, and tried to participate in any of the NaNoWriMo events. But it was an activity divided between other obligations and distractions. As soon as I graduated from the community college in December, I picked up a job as well as kept my other two jobs, giving a grand total of 70 hour work weeks, leaving me too exhausted to even contemplate writing of any form.

Now I am down to two jobs again, one giving my only 4 hours a week while the other job is just on weekends. This has left me with ample time to think and discover what it is I really want. The answer to that is simple: to write.

And I have so much time to do it!

So this is my writing Independence Day. It is the day that I know my life needs to revolve around writing to get to be where I want to be. It’s the day I make sure to schedule time for my writing every day. It’s the day that I know that it is what is important for me to grow and to put that growth first. It is the day that I separate myself from the working world and the obsessive manner to which I participated in it. I am a writer, and thus my life will be about writing, from here on out.

Day one of Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, I’m pretty tickled. I decided to be nice to myself as far as my word count goes for Camp NaNoWriMo, and aim for 20,000 words instead of 50,000. So, here’s what I’ve got so far:

CampNaNoWriMo2015

I might have to adjust my word count goal, otherwise I’ll blow through this before I have to go back to school for the next quarter! However, I do have to work all day Saturday and I have some preemptive homework I want to get a jump start on, so who knows!