Category: NaNoWriMo

Camp Tip #11 – Why Write

What drives you?

Everyone who writes, has a reason why. Sometimes that reason is because they find it fun to craft stories and characters. Or, maybe they have something they need to say, about the world, about people, about less tangible things like hope, love, fear, choice. Sometimes it can be for fickle reasons and that isn’t write or wrong. Why you write doesn’t have to matter to anyone but you, because you are the one who has to sit down everyday and write. It is this thing that drives you that can convince you to write when you’d rather hang out with friends, or when you had a long day at work, or if your favorite show is about to start. Knowing what drives you is one of the most important things that you can know when writing, and really when you do anything. If you can’t break down your motivations how can you break down your characters?

Is that enough?

This is a bit harder. Is it enough to make you write every day? I can’t tell you that. No matter what your reason is, or how important it seems, no one can tell you if that reason is good enough to write every day and work really hard on something that may be able to make a living from. You have to write for you first, because before readers can care about what your doing you have to care. If you’ve never thought about it much, take the time right now to figure out why your writing, why you want to win camp, and what that will feel like for you.

Keep writing. 

Once you know your reason, and you are sure that its a good enough reason to purse your goal, then the really hard part begins. You have to keep writing everyday. Because no matter what your reason is, or whether its a good enough reason, it will never become a reality if you don’t work really hard and recommit ever single day to your writing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take a day off, but know that that day off is just a break, and don’t let it become a slump. Know your why.

Progress as of this post: 10,013 /16,000

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Camp Tip #10 – Perspective

The Negative.

Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. I find that very interesting, because all of the other sins, (greed, sloth, gluttony, anger, and envy) have obvious reasons why they are bad. With pride, its not as obvious, which is true for a shocking amount of things. Some would call confidence, cockiness. Some say that kids don’t all need an award. That they need to learn that there are sometimes winners and losers. The reality is that sometimes you will fail. Sometimes your best won’t be good enough. And sometimes, it is your fault. But that doesn’t mean that you simply give up. Because if you do, then you can never win. The thing to remember, that so many often forget, is that when it’s darkest, it can only get brighter. When you are at your lowest, all you can do then is rise.

The positive.

The Camp email sad something that stuck with me today. “You’re effort has value”. I can’t express how much that meant to me and how many great things that small statement it reminded me of. It reminded me that I don’t need someone to be proud of me. I just have to be proud of me. I don’t need to wait for someone to see my potential to actualize it. I’m not stuck with my lot in life, or any other cliche. I also watch Dave Ramsy on YouTube, and on thing he says often, that I have always believed is that you can change your life right now. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, or the new year, you don’t have to wait until your next birthday, or that big promotion. You can change your life right now by simply deciding to. You can choice to have a better life today by simply doing it. You want to be happier? Start smiling more, and being friendlier even if that’s not quite how you feel. You want be healthier? Go for a walk. Ditch the junk food. You want to be successful? Start now. Try your best, and learn everything you can. When things are not the way you want it to be, then you look instead at yourself and decide how you want feel about that, and what you want to do about it. If you want to be a writer, go write. If you want to write something that everyone says is done to death, do it anyway, or don’t. Your effort does have value. Your happiness does matter. And most importantly, your choice can change your life if you want it to.

The choice. 

Every time you decide to write, you are taking charge of your life. You are choosing to see a blank page full of possibility and not doubt. How do you win? You decide that failure isn’t an option. If you do fail, you decide to learn and try again until you win. It’s all a matter of perspective. Tomorrow is a lifetime away if you let it be. But today is always right now.

Progress as of this post: 10,013 /16,000

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Camp Tip #9 – Marathon

Start small. 

Before you can run a marathon, you have to get in the habit of running, then get you’re endurance up so that you can run the 26 miles. Writing is very much the same way. You can’t just wake up and decide to write 10,000 words. It’s just not going to happen. You’re going to fail. Instead, you need to practice writing every single day. Once you’ve developed the habit, you then have to work on writing large amounts of words which also doesn’t happen overnight. Once you’ve done that, and the day comes that you wan’t to write a crazy amount of words, you still don’t just sit down and hammer the words out. Start with just a little bit at a time. and really take it one small chunk after the next. It’s a lot easier to write 100 words 100 times than it is to write 1000 words ten times, or 2000 words five times.  Focusing on too many words at once can be really daunting, and cause you to burn out much faster.

Take breaks.

Speaking of burning out, one way to combat that is to make sure that as you’re writing that you are also taking breaks. And not just breaks where you’re still thinking about the scene or chapter you’re in, but take your mind completely off the words, and focus instead on something else. Watch some videos, or read a book for a bit. Maybe go draw, or work out, but take your mind off of the words, and that way you can come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next set of words. However, if you have a long way to go, you want to make sure you are taking structured and limited breaks.

Pace yourself. 

It all comes down to balance. You want to make sure you are writing enough to hit your goal, but not writing so much that you burn out before you get to you’re goal. That is the hard part really. It can be challenging when you know you need to write, but know you need to take a break. Lean too far in either direction, and you may sabatoge your goal before  you can even get going. Anyway, good luck as always, and keep writing.

Progress as of this post:  9,291/13,500

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Camp Tip #8 – Benchmark

Where you started. 

When I started CampNaNoWriMo this year, I hadn’t written consistently in months. I hadn’t blogged. I hadn’t bothered. I was so wrapped up in my regular life, that I forgot about the thing I loved most. Well, I didn’t forget. I knew I hadn’t written, and I knew, that I wasn’t getting any closer to my goals. I just didn’t know how to jump-start my progress.  That is why I joined Camp this year, and why I may always do camp. It gives me focus, motivation, and best of all, a network of people to communicate with. When I started camp, I had a long way to go. But every day that I participate, that I show up and try, I get closer to my goal. It’s so important to know where you started, because otherwise, how can you measure how far you’ve gone.

 

Where you’re going. 

Equally as important, is where you still have to go. What is your deadline? Where are you hoping to end up. Setting a goal like writing 500 words a day is great, but without knowing why you’re doing it or what the end goal of doing it is, can be just as detrimental as not setting specific goal at all. Just like if you say I want to write every day. Without a specific amount, this is a hard goal to achieve anything major with. You have to know what that goal is meant to achieve.  With Nano and Camp you have a predetermined end goal. So you know where you are starting and where you will end up.

 

How you get there. 

With camp and Nano, it also estimates your daily goal. Because knowing where your going and where you’re starting is only half of the problem. You also need to have directions on how to get there. That is where your daily goal comes into play. It tells you how much you need to write everyday to get where you are going. Also, if you are ahead or behind, it will tell you how much based on that information you need to write. It’s a fantastic tool to have. So if you find that you are setting goals and not hitting them, you may need to go back, and make sure that the map you’ve set up for yourself reflects what you are supposed to be working on.

 

 

Progress as of this post:  5,637/13,500

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Camp Tip #7 – Week One

Harder than I thought.

Going into Camp, I had such high hopes of what would happen. I knew there would be times where I struggle, but for some reason, I didn’t think I would struggle as much as I did this first week. I’ve fallen behind quite a bit, and while that makes me a bit nervous, everyday I open my laptop, and write. I work on my blog, or my story, I write notes for the next day, or research something that will help my career as a writer. I do this everyday, and although I still have much to do to get where I’m going, every day I take another step closer.

Many of you may be finding yourself at the end of this week struggling. It can be daunting, but the thing I can’t stress enough with this pursuit, is that it is an every day goal. Do not let yourself get caught up in the words you haven’t written, and instead, focus on the words you have written. Think about the words you will write today, and not the ones you may not get to.

Still excited.

No question about it. Even without the buzz of starting camp with all the hope and promise of good intentions, I’m still so glad I joined. I’m even more glad that I have such a great cabin that keeps each other motivated. With only a quarter of the month gone, there is still plenty of time to push forward and hit your goals. Keep your head up, and stay positive, because we are all here to push ourselves, and though that may not always be easy, or comfortable, it will bring us closer to our goals.

What about week two?

As week two begins, I’m really going to have to work to catch up on some of the ground I lost over the last few days. If your also behind, here are my tips to catch up, and if you aren’t behind, here’s how you can stay ahead.

First, try breaking up your writing session is smaller bite sized pieces throughout the day. Writing 200 words isn’t so hard, even if you do it five times in one day. However, if you’re looking at your word document knowing that you have to write a thousand words, you may find yourself quitting before you even begin. When you can, stop at a part that is easy to pick up from. Depending on your preferences, this might be in the middle of a chapter or during a fight scene. I will sometimes start a sentence and leave it unfinished which gives me a place to immediately jump in. Lastly, if you need to get words, and you keep feeling you’re mind go blank, start describing something. Describe a character, the room they are in, how there feeling in that moment. These might not be things that you ultimately put in your novel, but sometimes you just need something on the page to get you going.

Good luck to you all. May the words be with you.

 

Progress as of this post:  4508/10,500

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Camp Tip #6 – Rest Stop

Exhaustion

I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to blog every day of CampNaNoWriMo, but I’m definitely seeing a downside to it. Over the last week, I’ve been trying my best to not fall far behind on my word count goals for camp. Like me, I’m sure many of you are struggling to stay on par, or catch up to your goal. Before I even started camp this year, I had implemented some huge lifestyle changes, and camp came, and I had so many grandiose  plans for what I wanted this month to be like. But barely a week in, these changes, work, and my personal life goal of writing, is bit more than exhausting than I’d plan for. Maybe your situation is different. Maybe you decided to pursue this goal without an outline and now find yourself struggling. Maybe work or school or whatever has toss more on your plate that you have the stomach for. Maybe writing every day with no days off is just getting to you. I want you to know I feel your pain. I do. I’m still going to blog everyday, because I want to, I enjoy it, I hope its helping some of you, and because it helps me to. Here, it’s not about the word count. It’s not about the story. Its about the other part of writing that I love so much, the connection.

 

Lack of Motivation.

With so much going on this last week, and falling behind on my goal, I’ve definitely found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed, and falling behind on my goal has been a bit demoralizing. This is not the first camp or the first nano that I’ve participated that I started falling behind on. In previous years, falling behind has resulted in quitting. Giving up, and not winning. I think about that at times, and I worry for a moment that this will be another camp I don’t finish. But then, I think of all the great people in my cabin, and all the people working so hard on their own projects, that it reminds me that this is an every day challenge to get words. The great thing about camp is that it doesn’t have to be 50,000 words, it can be whatever you need it to be. So  can this blog. I’ve fallen pretty far behind on my goal, and today I needed to remind myself and you that it’s okay stumble and sometimes fall. Because, we can still get back up, and keep on moving.

 

Reflection.

I’m only at about half of where I want to be, and today, I’m not going to write. Today, I’m going to rest and instead of worrying about falling behind another 1500 words I’m instead going to celebrate that for the first time in months I’ve written every day. Even today, if not on my camp project. I’m going to share with you the joy I have for writing 4500 words on my novel in just one week. In the previous years, I’ve failed Nano and Camp. I failed because I quit. Sometimes its much better to slow down, and finish the race at your own pace rather than having to sit the rest of it out because you’ve strained yourself. So today, I give you permission to take a break, to fail, to fall behind, as long as we can both take pride in how far we’ve come, and promise to keep moving forward.

 

Remember, there is still time to succeed as long as you keep going.

 

Progress as of this post:  4508/9000

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Camp Tip #5 – Scenery

Location. Location. Location.

Whether you’re writing an epic fantasy spanning over several fictional nations, Sci-fi with whole galaxies to travel, or writing a story that takes place in one single room (think Saw 1), where you’re characters are can have a huge impact on your story. Your world, no matter the genre, grounds your characters it your fictional reality. It is their backdrop, and as one it can either make them stand out, it can drown them out, or if its not describe and utilized well, it can leave your characters moving from one hazy void to the next. If it’s bit long winded or overly described that’s fine, you can always fix that in the revisions. Now, in the middle of camp might not be the best time to figure out your world building if its a bit lacking.

If it is lacking, what I would recommend is at least try to make sure your characters are grounded. In any given chapter or scene the things you should try to mention are the time of day, whether it’s inside or outside, and if they are coming or going from the place. Not all of these need to be mentioned all the time, and definitely not all at once. It should be more organic than that, just like describing your character.

 

Atmosphere and Tone.

Another thing to consider is  how your environment reflects the characters or plot. A character who is sad or angry wouldn’t likely be sitting in  a park on a bright sunny day. If they are, there should be a reason, and at the least the cheery environment should be used as a contrast to the emotion the scene is trying to convey. Similarly, if your in a place that a character frequents often, such as their home it should reflect their personality. A busy, lazy person isn’t likely to have a neat and orderly house. Let the characters surrounding serve the story.

 

Relevance.

 Speaking of serving the story. The information you provide should be relevant in some way. When introducing elements of an environment, you don’t need to describe everything in the room. It so easy to get lost in trying to create a vision that in doing so we bog down the story with unnecessary detail that either slows the pace, or distracts from the things that really do matter in the story. This is particularly true when mentioning odd or otherwise memorable detail about a setting. For example, if you mention that a window is on the east of the house, the sunlight creeping through it in the morning better be important, or it better look out into someone else’s house. Otherwise maybe don’t even mention the window. Unless you need it as an escape route later on, then definitely mention it.

 

Progress as of this post:  4508/7500

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Camp Tip #4 – Buddy System

Chill with your Cabin Mates.

One of the great things about Camp are the other people in your cabin. They can motivate you and cheer you on, and even get you involved in word sprints or other activities that can help you get words. In addition to that, you can check your cabin’s progress as a whole, which can be motivating to keep you on track. They are your built in safety net. If you’re feeling blocked or stuck, ask your mates for advice. This may be a self challenged, but you aren’t doing it alone.

Participate in write-ins.

Now, I don’t know how active your cabin is, but if you’re needing a bit more support you can always do a write in. You can meet up with other Wrimos locally and work on your goals. This can be great because writing can be a very solitary pursuit, especially when trying to hit your goal on a deadline. This creates a bit of solidarity, and give you a chance to be social during a time when you might be otherwise canceling plans or delaying social outings.

There are also virtual write-ins for those of you who may not get a chance to get out, or who simply don’t have other writers in the area. Just hope on YouTube and write with people all around the world via internet. The fun thing about this is that they may at times do little prompts or other activities that just make the write-in a bit more engaging.

Utilize Twitter and NaNoWriMo forums.

 If you’re looking for a bit of motivation or support, then hop on twitter or the Nano forums. You can check up on other peoples progress, or follow along with sprints. Either way, there is always something available to help you through this month. Take advantage of the resources and the comradery  available to you. And as always, have fun.

 

Progress as of this post: 3682 /6000

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