If you follow me on Twitter, you likely already know about my adventures with July 2018’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to talk about it anyway! Saturday night (6/03) at around 10:30 PM, fellow Writers of Queer Fiction founder, Amy Nowacoski asked me if I was participating in Camp NaNo. My initial reaction was:
I’d heard of NaNoWriMo–I mean, what writer hasn’t? Okay. I’ll bite. If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, here you go:
NaNoWriMo is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. It’s every November and it’s free to do. The first session was in July 1999, started by freelance writer Chris Baty. That first year, it had 21 participants all in the San Francisco Bay area. The goal? To write 50,000 words (the accepted standard for a full-length novel) in ONE MONTH. Yeah, writers are masochists, and Baty is our King sadist! In 2000, it was moved to November, where it remained. Why was it moved?
To more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.
According to Therese Walsh, at least. (Yeah okay, cause the Bay area totally has miserable weather. Excuse me as I stare dubiously off to the side.)
Anyway, it has gotten more and more popular and more and more successful each year. Now, it has developed into a full-blown fundraising event! I never had any anticipation of being involved. Please, you expect me to write in ONE month what it takes some authors YEARS to do? I started The Daffodil Witch in late February of 2018. After 4 months, I had JUST reached the 30% mark of my book, and people considered that incredibly fast.
Then, I downloaded this app called Writeometer. Allow me to pimp this app out for a second here. It’s available (for now) only on Android (I’m sure there are others out there for you Apple fans). This app allows you to track your writing as you go in an organized, easy-to-read way.
It also has a timer built into it for writing sprints (a writing session, usually 25 minutes or so long, in which a writer blocks out everything and gets as much writing done in one session as possible). I had never done a sprint before, but I was having a hard time getting into the swing of writing, and many days would only get 300 words or so in at a time after about 2 hours of sitting at my computer and instinctively checking Facebook and Twitter while pretending to write.
On June 13th, I downloaded this app and set up my book. From that day on, I did 1-2 sprints almost every single night before bed. I went from 30,000 words to 47,000 words in 12 days. (That’s an average of 1,400 words a day, for those of you, like me, who don’t do math.) I managed to do about 700-1,000 words in each 25-minute sprint!
Now, back to NaNoWriMo. Amy asked me if I was doing it, and I was ready to laugh at her and call her crazy (sorry, Amy, if you’re reading this lol). Then I thought about it and remembered that I had been managing to do up to 2,000 words in just an hour some nights. If I could do that almost every night, I could totally do NaNoWriMo… and I didn’t have to do a new project, at this point I had less than half my book left to write–less than 45,000 words. So, at 11:00 PM (for those of you paying close attention, yes all this thinking happened over the course of a half hour) I decided “fuck it, I’m gonna try it.” (Cover your ears kids!)
SO, I signed up and by Midnight, I was ready to go! Now, Camp NaNoWriMo is kind of like NaNoWriMo Lite. It’s held in both April AND July, and you can set your own goal for this one! I set mine to 45,000 since I don’t need 50,000 more words in my book. I made a cabin (cabins are like chatrooms you sign up for with other writers to offer support and watch each other’s progress) for the Writers of Queer Fiction group. (I will ALWAYS link this group because I encourage people to join!!)
And by the way, if you want to join us, please feel free! If you aren’t on Facebook but would like to join our cabin, comment below with your username and I’ll send an invitation!! We’re hip. We’re cool. Come jam with us.
Aaaaanyway, now that Day 1 is over, I thought I would share my thoughts! I am HUGELY goal and deadline driven. I procrastinate terribly, and then when the deadline is upon me, I kick my ass into gear and GET. SHIT. DONE. So, realizing that NaNo was doable for me, I decided to just go for it. I had originally hoped to finish The Daffodil Witch by the end of the year. Now, I am expecting to have it finished BY THE END OF THIS MONTH. How insane is that?!
So, before I went to bed I told everyone and their mother that I was going to do 5,000 words on day one. Most of them rolled their eyes at me or reminded me that it was okay if I didn’t, but I knew that if I told people I was going to do it, sheer stubbornness and force of will meant I would get it done! I decided to be antisocial all day Sunday and have a whole day filled with sprints and nothing else.
SPOILER: I DID IT.
I got up and went on an early-morning 2-mile power walk. While I was on that walk, actually, I got a chance to use the French I am refreshing myself on for TDW when a man from Quebec came to me to ask for directions. His English was shaky, my French was rough, but in the end, we figured it out and I continued on my walk feeling a little proud of myself!
When I got home, I showered, cleaned and sat down by 10:30 AM to write. Over the course of the day, I did NINE sprints. I gave myself a decent break between each one and got things done around the house, ate something, even ran an errand. I promised myself that if I succeeded in meeting my goal, I would go to the Dairy Queen up the street and get myself a Jurassic Chomp (in chocolate because vanilla ice cream is a travesty).
WELL, I GOT MY JURASSIC CHOMP, AND IT WAS DAMNED DELICIOUS!! That’s right, at about 9:00 PM I reached 5,337 words!! Took a break to get my ice cream, and while I was there getting it, had a nice Pay It Forward moment.
To preface, it was near on 100 degrees out yesterday. I only have air conditioning in the bedrooms upstairs so it was a bit rough going downstairs for anything. When I went out to get my ice cream, I thought I might die from the heat.
As I stepped into line, I saw an older gentleman in a full suit standing by, mulling through some change in his hand. He let two people cut him in line, then offered the same to me as he continued to count his change. I couldn’t leave him there counting his change in the hot sun, so when I went up to order, I got my ice cream and turned to him and said “and whatever he’s having. I’m buying his ice cream.” His surprised look and appreciative look after was so sweet, and we chatted for a little while as we waited for our ice cream.
I got home in the best mood ever, despite the heat.
By the time I went to bed just before midnight (I did 2 more sprints and then finished off the last few paragraphs of a chapter while I ate my ice cream) I had written 2 full chapters from start to finish, and got in a whopping 7,211 words for the day!
7,211 words, for those of you in the back!
I’m SO happy I decided to join Camp NaNo, and I’m SO excited to see how much I can get done with this motivation! I hope that today I can keep up that momentum and maybe get 3,000 words in, but I won’t hold myself strictly to that number since I do have to work and am going to the gym later. Still, I’ll be super proud of myself if I can do it!!
Thanks for listening to my rambling. Sorry for swearing at you.