Browsed by
Month: August 2016

I Didn’t “Win” Camp NaNoWriMo, But that Doesn’t Mean I Failed

I Didn’t “Win” Camp NaNoWriMo, But that Doesn’t Mean I Failed

July, and the whirlwind that was camp NaNoWriMo is over.  As you may have guessed from my title, I did not ‘win’ the NaNoWriMo challenge I set for myself – writing for 10 hours every week.  I also set a word count goal – 10,000 – because that is how the man at NaNoWriMo has us all catalog progress.  And guess what.  I didn’t reach either of these goals.

To be fair to myself, I might have met the 10,000 words, I just wasn’t very good at keeping track of them, because how do you really keep track of words while revising?  As a super competitive person, who likes to win I thought I would feel bad for not sticking to my goals and not crushing camp NaNoWriMo in the face. But I don’t.  I feel really at peace about the work I did, and I don’t feel like I failed at all, here is why.

  1. I set a super high goal!  On a good week I write for about five hours, so trying to squeeze in 10 hours every week was kind of an insane idea from the get go.  I wanted to challenge myself, set the bar high and see if I could clear it.  This time, I overestimated my bar jumping skills and smacked into it, but it is easy to see there was a problem with my goal, not a problem with my efforts.
  2. I focused on Balance.  Summers are always busy, especially for us Minnesotans who spend nine months of the year in hibernation because of the cold.  Add to that being a new homeowner, adding not one but TWO cats to my household, fourth of July celebrations, not to mention everything else life throws at me and there just wasn’t the time.  Certainly, I could have made sacrifices.  I could have become a social recluse for the month, could have neglected my body refusing to eat well, exercise or get enough sleep, I could have refrained from adopting my adorable kitties and I could have overall put my life on pause for the sake of writing.  But, at the end of that day, that’s not what would have been best me or my writing.  I might not have made it to ten hours a week, but I found a way to consistently plug writing into my daily life and that is a habit I can build on the rest of the year.
  3. I made a lot of progress.  I am not sure if this was just because of how the timing of things worked out, or if my commitment to writing was just that much stronger because of this July challenge, but I made some serious breakthroughs on my story this month.  I have been in revisions since April and it has been sssslllllooooowww.  It’s good, it’s necessary, but it can be super frustrating.  This July however, I finally pushed through a giant chunk of revisions that I had been stuck on, literally since April.  I think it was my third go round getting this chunk right, and I finally got it where I want it to be (for now) it feels amazing!  I finally have some work that I am ready to share with people and receive feedback on, and I don’t know if I would have gotten here this fast if it hadn’t been for my crazy camp NaNoWriMo goals.
  4. I met a few friends.  My cabin for camp wasn’t the most hoppin’ place, but I did get to chat with a couple of other girls who were doing the same thing as me – pushing through revisions!  It was super fun to connect with others who could relate to the process that is editing and to give each other encouragement.  Are they my new BFFs?  No, but it was still fun to connect with and chat with them for the month.
  5. It got me excited for official NaNoWriMo in November!  I was on the fence about participating in November NaNoWriMo, I wasn’t sure if I would be in the right place as far as my drafting cycle is concerned and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put myself through the grueling pace that November brings.  But attempting to reach this goal in July, actually made me more excited for it in November.

Overall, despite not technically winning, I made amazing progress on my novel that I am proud of and if that isn’t winning then I don’t know what is.

How did you do?  If you aren’t happy with how you did?  What can you do in November to make your experience better?  Remember, no matter if you met your goal or not, the purpose of this is to inspire you to write, so whether you got 50,000 words on the page, or just 1 the fact that you tried is amazing, and the fact that you are determined to continue pursuing your writing dreams is pretty cool.
Stay amazing my friends

When Writing Becomes a Chore

When Writing Becomes a Chore

Slave to Time - Overworked Man

Writing is fun, pleasurable, fulfilling. It’s your passion, your love, your life!

Except of course, when it’s not.

This past month I tackled Camp Nanowrimo (shout out to my cabin-mates The Nameless Warriors!). Everything started out great. I was brimming with enthusiasm and I hit the ground running. The first couple of days I was on fire. I was feeling good, meeting my word count goals, and I was on track for success. I was having fun!

And then, all too soon, it wasn’t fun anymore.

My progress screeched to a halt, my enthusiasm evaporated, and I was left feeling bitter and demotivated. Despite how painful writing had become I forced myself to keep going and dismissed the initial high and subsequent rock bottom low as all part and parcel of taking on a challenge that comes with a deadline and pressure to succeed. I made it halfway through July before I broke down.

Why is this so hard? I asked myself. I had set a reasonable goal and I was making time to write, but writing had become a serious bummer. It was a drag and I simply didn’t want to force myself to do it anymore. And that’s when it hit me. I write for the love of writing, but in the thick of Camp Nanowrimo writing had become a chore. The usual joy I received from writing had completely disappeared.

I had found myself in the typical ‘all work and no play’ scenario, and my writing life had become dull.

Writing should be fun. You should do it because you love it, but everything that requires commitment is, at some point, not going to be fun. That’s just the way it is. You love your kid. Is parenting a non-stop joy ride? NO! It’s not fun to change poopy diapers, clean up vomit, or stay up all night with a screeching infant. You love your career, but is it fun to get up every single weekday to a squealing alarm, drag yourself out of your cozy bed and go spend the entire day in an office? NOPE! Nothing in life is ALWAYS fun. Most things are only occasionally fun. And that my friends, is just the way it is.

Writing is not going to be fun all the time. Writing is a job. It’s a job I love, but it’s also a lot of work. There are good days and bad days. During Camp Nanowrimo I had a string of bad days, and I had to remind myself that it’s okay for writing to feel like a chore sometimes. I also had to remind myself that writing is fun, just not all the time, and that is why I do it.

This is how I reclaimed my joy and remembered how fun it is to be a writer:

  • Why this story? It’s easy to forget why you decided to tell your story in the first place. When I hit a low point this July I read over some of the frenzied notes I had scribbled when my story was a fresh new idea. These old brainstorming exercises re-ignited my imagination. I remembered why I was devoted to this story and these characters, and why it was FUN to play in this particular fictional world. Reconnecting with why I love my story gave me the motivation to keep writing.
  • Find inspiration. Halfway through Camp Nanowrimo I was running on empty. I had neglected to re-charge my batteries. I’m the kind of author that needs a steady stream of new experiences to keep the ideas flowing.  I hadn’t been stopping to smell the roses and that’s why my writing was so painfully stale. So mid-July I decided to start reading a new book, take myself to see a movie, and find a different route for my evening walks. And boy did those small things help! I also began taking a notebook with me everywhere. I jotted down whatever struck me as interesting – from the silly to the profound. I brought my notebook into the movie theater, took it along for my walks, and woke up in the middle of the night to jot down illegible scribbles. My notebook became fertile soil for creative seeds, and as I finished up Camp Nanowrimo I always had a source of inspiration to reference.
  • Take a vacation. When you’re toiling under a deadline it’s hard to allow yourself to take breaks, but when you really hit a wall you can’t afford not to. If you’re stuck in quicksand, the harder you fight, the more it pulls you in. Mid-July I gave myself permission to take breaks. I like to think of these breaks as fun mini-vacations. I listened to an audiobook with a talented voice actor, I read for pleasure, watched a favorite action-adventure flick, and went out for eclectic fusion food (if you guys are ever in need of a restaurant recommendation in the Twin Cities let me know!).  And after these mini-vacations I was able to return to my writing refreshed and ready to make progress. Perhaps the best sort of vacation to take when you’re slogging toward a writing deadline is to write something else, something fun! The funnest thing you can dream up! Because you know what’s fun? WRITING! Writing is fun. And that, more than anything else, is why we decided to do it and why we continue to do it. So go back to your old fanfiction and write a new scene, or google ridiculous writing prompts, or check out one of my favorite writing references: 642 Things to Write About. The best way to remember how fun it is to be a writer is to (duh!) write something fun.

I achieved my Camp Nanowrimo goal, woohoo! It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t always fun but it had it’s moments of triumph and joy, and that, dear writing friends, is what it’s all about. Let me know how you did with your July goals. I’d love to hear how you stay inspired when the going gets tough.

Stay tuned for more SS Press awesomeness!

Peace & Love, Kayla