Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo 2017

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time this past April. Sorry it's taken me so long to write about it, but I've been somewhat busy lately. More on that some other time, though.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Camp NaNoWriMo is a more laid-back summertime version of National Novel Writing Month where you set your own writing goal, get grouped into virtual cabins with other writers, and track your writing progress on a particular project over the course of a single month.

The Plan

I intended to use Camp NaNoWriMo as an excuse to finish my NaNoWriMo 2016 novel, because although I actually met my goal for that event, it turned out that my novel was destined to be more than 50,000 words long. Because the 50k word goal is a bit of a strenuous commitment; I decided to set myself a more reasonable goal of 25 hours of writing for camp.

Unfortunately, the website only allows a minimum of 30 hours, so I had to pick that as my goal instead. Still, that seemed doable, and more importantly I figured it was more than enough time needed to spend on my novel in order to finally finish it - it specifically being a second draft that I intend to shop around for publishers upon completion and before torturing myself over any more rewrites.

The Results

It turned out that setting an hour goal instead of a word count goal allowed me to shift my writing priorities in a way that, while helpful, was not conducive to my goal of finishing the actual novel. You see, despite feeling initially confident in the outline I'd laid out for the story when beginning NaNoWriMo 2016, while writing I found myself incredibly dissatisfied with the subplot of the main character's roommate, as well as the roommate herself as a character. Therefor, I ended up using much of Camp NaNoWriMo rewriting that character and her scenes to better fit the story I was trying to tell.  I did get around to writing some new scenes, resulting in a more complete book than I had to begin, but I ended the month with almost the entire final third of the story still unwritten.

What's more is that, as time has gone on, I've found myself increasingly disinterested in the novel as my growing interests pull me toward science fiction stories instead. I still intend to finish it, but the simple fact is that my heart isn't in it like it used to be. Additionally, as I've been developing new stories in my head, I've realized that I've been building this story on a somewhat poor foundation of planning and outlining - by which I mean I wasn't as knowledgeable about conceptualizing what makes a good story when I initially planned it, so it's as if I'm now trying to stack heavy bricks onto various fallen branches that I once found and stuck standing up in the sand. (For those wondering themselves about story structure, I highly suggest reading Dan Harmon's Story Structure as a starting point - a short guide that is available totally free online if you just search for it!)

Ugh, I know, I'm being so angsty and not cool. What can I say? I'm a writer.

Anyway, Camp NaNoWriMo was fun and helpful and I would definitely suggest it to other writers, but it was ultimately not the success I hoped it would be for me, personally. Also, I really wish it was a real thing. Like, I wish there was a month-long writer's summer camp for young adults to go to complete with cabins, bonfires, nature, and writer-based activities guided by published authors.

If any such place or event does exists, please point me in the direction of where I can sign up.

Read some of my short stories based on writing prompts at