Every November, bar one, since 2007 I’ve gone a little nuts and tried to write a novel in a month. 50,000 words is the goal which isn’t bad for a first draft, as first drafts do tend to balloon a bit on revising. I wrote a little bit about this last November and now I’m going to be writing about it again. “Hey wait a minute! It’s not November!” I hear you exclaim. Yeah that’s very true but this year I will be taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo.
Camp NaNoWriMo is a smaller program run by the Office of Letters and Light, the not for profit that operates NaNoWriMo. Rebels writing anything other than 50k words of a novel aren’t shunned in November, but they aren’t actively supported either. However, at Camp whatever you decide to write, and whatever word count you decide to strive for, is supported. You can put your custom word count goal onto your page, something that is missing (but should be added for overachievers) from the main NaNoWriMo program. This year Camp is in April and July. Today it’s March 31st, the first day of April’s session is tomorrow.
A little history
As I said I’ve taken part since 2007, excluding 2011. In that time I’ve lost twice and won three times. Well I say I lost, it’s a personal challenge and there are no losers, you end the month with more words than you had at the start, or with a better grip on your story, so the time is never wasted. When I was writing my pre-challenge post at the end of last October I explained the dilemma I faced over what to write. I didn’t have a story jumping up and down in my mind to be told. Oh I had plenty of stories to tell but none that were burning a hole to get out. The one that I wanted to get down on paper I was scared of as it was THE story, the one I’d tried and failed to write a couple of times previously, the one I’d had in my head for over a decade in some form or another.
I’d decided tentatively to try for this story again but when I sat down on November 1st I couldn’t do it. Instead I started writing whatever came into my head, and experienced the most amazing feeling of a story just coming from nothing. I stalled on this story after 5000 words but now I was warmed up, so I swapped to THE story and kept writing. When I typed ‘The End’ at the end of November it wasn’t the end but more the halfway point. However, for the first time I was happy with the first draft I’d got down, it was finally the story that I wanted to tell, it was a good starting point. Which is where my current dilemma comes in – what do I write for April?
So many stories, so little time
I’m a writer, I might not be a very good one, but I can’t stop myself from coming up with plot ideas even if I tried. Give me a scene, and ask me what happens next, and I could give you many different options. Therefore it’s no surprise that I have ideas for at least 10 novels knocking about my brain. However, I’m not a very consistent writer, part of me prefers the purity of the potential of an unwritten idea. I’m also not very diligent about editing so despite my good intentions I haven’t done any editing, or any writing, since last November. Once again I have the same malaise that plagued me in October, no burning story desperate to be written. I once read a quote by a writer that said something along the lines of “if the story isn’t desperate to be told then it’s not worth telling”. I respectfully disagree because passions do die down over time, some of these ideas I’ve had stored away for years. This doesn’t make them bad ideas necessarily, though they could be, it just means I’ve not arranged my time sufficiently, and had the courage to commit pen to paper for each of them.
Where does that leave me? What should I write? I left the story in November at the halfway point, should I write the sequel? Part of me held off on the editing for precisely that reason, I wasn’t done yet, so it would make sense to commit the entirety of the story to paper. If I never finish it, I’ll never edit it, and then it will never be completed. If I never achieve anything else, I want to stamp done on this story. If I don’t write this story then I need to pick one of the others. However, I had this section in my pre-challenge post in October, and most of what I wrote about my plans I didn’t wind up doing anyway. No plan survives first contact with the enemy after all.
So what’s the point of this blog post?
You could argue that there isn’t one. However, the important part of this post is to state publicly that I am taking part in the Camp NaNo challenge. If you don’t tell anyone then you only have yourself watching your progress, if you do tell the world then you have people checking up on you. The desire to avoid public humiliation at saying you’re tackling a challenge, and then failing, has got many a NaNo writer through it. So this is me, stating my intentions in black and white.
My goal is the standard 50,000 words in 30 days, which is the usual NaNo November challenge. I thought about changing the figure but if it was less then I wouldn’t respect my accomplishment, if I aim for higher then I stand the risk of disappointing myself. 50,000 words in a month is doable, as I’ve proved personally three times, but it’s also difficult. Some days you just don’t feel like knuckling down and knocking out your 1667 words for the day. I usually complete the challenge in a lot less than 30 days, if you just count the days that I wrote on. Last November I wrote on 13 of the 30 days, actually completing the challenge three days early as the last day I wrote on was the 27th. Therefore I suppose it’s not actually much of a challenge at all, as if I was consistent I could easily write double the word count. I’m not consistent though and powering through double the word debt does not sound fun.
Where this waffling ends
At midnight tonight I will sit down and attempt to knock out some words. I failed to write anything at that time last November, but the gesture is important. Maybe it’s superstition but the three years I won I started at midnight, the two years I lost I did not. It could be psychological about taking the challenge seriously, it could just be tradition at this point, either way I will be there fingers on keys for the stroke of the hour.
Now I need to find a word counter for the side of this blog as the widget I used in November won’t work. Your irregularly scheduled Warcraft posts will resume next month, too bad I can’t add them to my word count. Happy Easter guys 🙂