Camp NaNoWriMo: How to find an active cabin

I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo seven times now. In the past, I’ve had both cabins that were active and others that were inactive. I’ve found cabin activity critical to staying motivated.

The NaNoWriMo forms have some good tips for finding cabin mates, but today I’m sharing some things I personally have found result in an active cabin. Continue reading

Post NaNoWriMo/November 2015 Wrap-up

Nano 2015 Chart

I technically didn’t win NaNoWriMo, but did finish my first draft. This was my original goal for the month, so I’m satisfied. I also managed to keep up with the progress bar for the first fifteen days as shown above. Considering this was my first semester in college, I’m surprised I managed to keep up for so long.

The reason this draft was so short is in part because my first drafts are very underwritten, and also because I was writing middle grade. My November project follows twelve-year-old Rebah who has grown up to believe she is a robot, and has never seen another human-being.

Reading

I didn’t read much this month because I was so busy writing. I’m actually surprised I found any time to read at all.

Short Synopsis: In this futuristic society children are raised to be turned into horrific “creatures” on their fourteenth birthdays.

Thoughts:  I’ve read many of Garth Nix’s books. As always there was unique world building, but in this case the execution left something to be desired. I never felt entirely invested in the characters and the story.

Rating: 3 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Book six in a series about aliens blending in on Earth while other aliens try to invade.

Thoughts: These books are very addictive. Normally, I would have stopped reading a series I was having this level of enjoyment of, but I just feel too much urge to find out what happens next. That doesn’t mean I’m beyond skimming, though.

I had some issues with plot holes in previous books that were solved in this one. (*book 1 minor spoilers* How were they planning to repopulate a planet with only nine people left?)

Rating: 

3 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Four children summon ancient beasts of legend though a ritual that binds a human and an animal.

Thoughts: Each book in this series is written by a different author, many of them well known. I’m interested to see how the series will progress through each change in writer. This book was a fun introduction to this fictional universe. I have recommended this series to my brother.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Be, Room, Cliff (Writer Version)

In honor of the fact that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and that I plan to participate, I thought this would be something fun to do. It’s a variation of the game in which you chose one character you want to be, one you want to be roommates with, and one to throw off a cliff, but I’ll be using characters from the unpublished novel length works I’ve written and the one I plan to write this November.

This post was inspired by Shaelin from ShaelinWrites on Youtube. You can watch her version here.

I’ll be assigning the characters numbers and randomly choosing three of these numbers for each round.

Round 1

Interesting, this round I got the only two characters I entered from the work I’ll be writing this November. I also got a character from my NaNoWriMo 2014 project that I’ve been revising lately. The reasons the names of my characters from my project this November are capitalized funny is because I wanted to give a sense that this is a world in which robots have replaced humans and capitalizing names that way emphasizes that point to me.

Be: ReBAH1 (Raised by Robots)

Rebah is going to be the protagonist of my project this November. She is the last human on Earth which is a definite downside to being her. Even though I am an introvert, I do still enjoy a certain amount of human interaction, but I’m practically going to be her as I write her story anyway.

Room: GenE24 (Raised by Robots)

This is the robot who raised Rebah. Because she is a robot I do not want to be her, but I think she could make a good roommate because she’d be in her lab most of the time so I’d practically have the room to myself.

Cliff: Princess Glenda (A Rose Like Death)

I can’t remember for sure, but I think in the first draft of this story Glenda fell off a cliff and died in the second or third chapter. I kind of feel bad about that now, and that doesn’t happen anymore. However, I’ve already technically written this scene so its already happened.

Round 2

This round is so hard. I got three of my protagonists and I love them all!

Be: Princess Titania (Not a Faerie Princess Anymore)

Titiania has a lot of really stressful responsibility I would have trouble dealing with, but I think I could eventually adjust. I would also enjoy seeing all of the magic of Faerie on a daily basis even if I had to accept that I could never preform any of it like Titania does in my narrative. I also don’t want to room with her because I have a feeling our room would be very loud.

Room: Parisa (Unidentified)

Parisa could be a good roommate, but her life is complicated in ways I wouldn’t necessarily want to deal with, so I’m going to room with her.

Cliff:  Yuliana (A Rose like Death)

I feel so bad about this because Yuliana may just be my favorite protagonist. I wouldn’t want to be her because her life is terrible, but I also wouldn’t want to be her roommate because she reads minds. I like to keep my thoughts to myself. Unfortunately, this means she gets cliffed. I actually feel like crying because I’m so devastated by this right now!

Round 3

This is a fairly easy round. I’m not very attached to most of these characters as their primarily very minor.

Be: Becca (Unidentified)

Her life is very similar to my own, so the adjustment wouldn’t be difficult. I’d also get to be close friends with Parisa so whenever strange things started to happen I could chose whether I wanted to support Parisa and get involved or just continue on with my life from a safe distance.

Room: Catrine (A Rose like Death)

Our room would be converted into a walk-in closet with beds, but she would make all my clothes. Having my own personalized wardrobe wins over the inconvenience of living in a room surrounded by clothes on hangers. I also think Catrine would make a good friend.

Cliff: Anabelle (Unidentified)

This is a character who is falsely accused by my protagonist of doing a lot of nasty things. She isn’t nearly as bad as she is often made out to be, but she is still far from a great person. She is the character here I care about least so she is getting cliffed.

Round 4

I got two side characters from my NaNoWriMo 2013 project and the main character of the first novel length work I ever finished.

Be: Alina (Unidentified)

Of all these characters she has the easiest life, so I’m going to be her.

Room: Dawn (Martian Murders)

Dawn has a personality a lot like mine and I think we would get along really well. However, I put her though a lot of stuff I don’t want to deal with, so I wouldn’t want to be her.

Cliff: H/Lori (Unidentified)

I like this character, so I feel really bad about this. She’s getting cliffed because I don’t want her life at all, and I’m more emotionally attached to Dawn since I narrated an entire novel length work from Dawn’s perspective.

Round 5

All of these are either characters with terrible lives, or characters who are annoying. That makes this difficult.

Be: Adela (Not a Faerie Princess Anymore)

I don’t like Adela much, but of all the characters here she has the best life so I’m picking her.

Room: Queen Shella (A Rose like Death)

I wouldn’t want to be her because she has so much responsibility, but I also feel too much sympathy with her to throw her off a cliff.

Cliff: Andrea (Martian Murders)

Technically I’ve already killed this character twice in one narrative by throwing her off a cliff. Her murder is the one the title speaks of, and this story involves time travel hence it happening twice in the same narrative. I cried while I wrote that scene because she doesn’t deserve it, but there was no way around it happening.

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 10: On First Drafts and Imperfection

Camp Nano Graph Day 10I mentioned in my April wrap-up that I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. If you don’t know what Camp NaNoWriMo is, but would like to find out I suggest you either read my post about the event, or visit the event’s website. The event is almost exactly a third of the way through so I thought it would be the perfect time to update blog readers on my writing process.

My current word count is 16,685 words which, as shown in my progress graph, is far ahead of my 30K word goal. I’ve thought of raising my word count goal, but decided not to. I’m keeping my original goal because my main project for this session is a rewrite that I expect to be complete at around 70,000 words, but when I started the session 35,000 of those words had already been written.

As my main goal for the month is not to write a certain number of words but to finish this draft, I want to keep my word count goal low enough that I won’t have words remaining towards my goal when the draft is finished. There is also the fact that this is the longest I’ve ever seen the whole cabin meet its overall goal and I enjoy helping to keep it that way.

It seems odd to write a post about first drafts when my focus for the event is a rewrite, but I have much more experience with my own first drafts than I do edited drafts. Like most other aspects of writing there is no wrong way to write a first draft. There are simply ways that work and ways that don’t. Perhaps the most frustrating part of all this is that some ways that work for others do not work for you. I have, however, noticed trends.

This session my Camp “cabin” is made up of twelve participants of which four including myself have finished a novel length first draft before. What I’ve noticed fairly consistently in this session, past events, and in talking with fellow writers is that those who finish something tend to be the ones who come to terms with the fact that their first draft doesn’t need to be perfect. This is not the only factor, of course, other factors include how much enthusiasm someone has for their idea and where writing fits into their priorities, but these aspects are much harder to measure than a persons tendency to go back and rewrite the first chapter fifty times before chapter two is finished.

There are plenty of successful novelists who edit while writing a first draft, and they are not wrong to do so. Most of these writers have managed to find a balance between making their writing the best it can be the first time around and getting words on paper. To finish a first draft finding finding this balance between quality and quantity is a must.

How a Book is Made Tag

Book Tag ImageSince I’ll be participating in July’s Camp Nanowrimo session I thought it would be appropriate to do a writing tag. (Camp NaNoWriMo is an internet based event where participants try to write a set amount of words in a month.) This tag was created by WritingMime over on YouTube. I don’t know if this tag has ever been adapted from video form into blog form before, but it’s just what I was looking for so I’m doing it.

1. Should you participate in National Novel Writing Month to create a book?

It’s not entirely necessary, but even if you don’t win it’s a great motivation and way to meet people online with similar interests. So I would say yes overall.
2. Self-publishing or tradition publishing?

I am going to try to traditionally publish once I feel that my writing has gotten to a publishable point. In fact, one of my current projects is in its third draft at the moment and I’m hoping to be done with major edits by the end of the summer with the intention of querying sometime next year. At the same time I am not opposed to self-publishing. I think its a great option to have. I just don’t really have the money to do it properly like I would want to at the moment.
3. Write one idea at a time or write all the ideas at once?

I tend to focus on one idea though I have tried multiple ideas and I usually end up just focused on one despite my efforts.
4. What genre is the easiest to write?

I don’t read a lot of contemporary, so that is definitely the most difficult for me. The easiest harder to determine, but it’s probably YA sci-fi especially if it’s set on Earth in a modern setting.
5. Where do you need to write to get the work done?

I have to sit at my desk in my room. I try to make it so that my desk is only for writing and homework so that it’s all I work on when I sit there and don’t get so distracted.
6. Where do you find your inspiration?

Multiple places. I’ve written stories based off of everything from dreams to real world events to aspects of other novels I felt were not explored to their full potential.
7. What age do you start writing?

I’ve always been making up outlandish stories, but I didn’t start writing them down until I was in middle school, and with a few exceptions most of what I wrote in middle school was just a few chapters before I decided to just imagine how the rest of the story would go in my mind and just leave it at that. It wasn’t until high school that I started feeling the need to write them out in their entirety.
8. What’s easiest to write? Short stories, stand-alones, series, etc.

Short stories are easiest, but I don’t really enjoy writing them or write them often. I spend most of my time on stand-alones with series potential as I find those the most rewarding.
9. Do you mill your books or take years to write a book?

I can write first drafts quickly if I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, but I take a long time to edit and often rewrite.
10. How fast can you type?

I have no idea. Not extraordinarily quickly, but faster than most teenagers.
11. Do you write in the dark or in the light?

Some of both. My best writing often comes in the early morning or late at night, but I can write throughout the day too and sometimes leave the lights on or off.
12. Hand-written or typed?

Typed, I like how I can back it up and don’t need to rewrite it solely for the purpose of putting it on a screen later.
13. Alone or with someone else?

When I’m actually writing I prefer to be alone for the most part, but sometimes word sprints can be great motivation and I enjoy talking to fellow writers. I can write in public so long as I’m fairly certain no one is reading the words as I type them.
14. Any typing hacks?

No.
15. Are you already published?

No, but I hope to be someday.
16. When did you first consider being an author? HOW? WHY? WHO?

Not 100 percent sure I understand this question, but I probably decided I wanted to publish something when I was well into the first draft of something novel length I’d actually finished in my freshmen year of high school. As to whether I consider myself an author I do not, I consider myself a writer, but not an author because I haven’t written anything beyond short stories I feel is entirely finished in terms of revision.

17. How many books do you have in draft form?

Four at the moment. Three are completed first drafts and one is a half completed third draft I’ve been putting a lot of time into lately.
18. Do you outline or no?

Yes, my first completed novel length draft was not outlined, but since then I have started outlining and they get more detailed with each work I finish.
19. What’s your favorite note-keeping strategy?

Using Scrivener or Microsoft Word to type my notes into.
20. What do you think about writing in different genres?

Two of my completed drafts were young adult, one was middle grade, and the latest could have been either adult or young adult depending on how it develops in later drafts. I’ve written one high fantasy, one urban fantasy, one science fiction novel set in space, and one science fiction novel set on Earth in modern times that borders on contemporary fiction so I’d say I’m okay with writing in different genres.

If anyone has more writing related questions for me, want to talk about NaNoWriMo, or have a suggestion for a future writing related post I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

April 2015 Camp Nanowrimo Pep-talk: Mid-month Slump

It’s now halfway though the month of April. For those participating in Camp National Novel Writing Month this means the mid-event writing slump has come on full force. I see it in my cabin where some of my once active fellow cabin mates are struggling to balance life and writing, and I have seen it during past NaNoWriMo events I’ve participated in. In 2013 I wrote a several thousand words in the first week, only about a thousand words in the two weeks that followed, and several thousand words at the end in an attempt to catch up with my goal.

Those of you not familiar with NaNoWriMo as an event or the more relaxed Camp NaNoWriMo events are probably thoroughly confused. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a month long event that takes place every November in which participants try to write the first 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Camp NaNoWriMo is an event in which participants chose their own word goal and write that much in a month because while 50K might not be an attainable goal for everyone 10,000 or 20,000 words very well might be. This event takes place in April and July.

Writing this much takes effort and discipline. The writer needs to be passionate, and dedicated to write. The motivating community factor of these NaNoWriMo events can help, without these events it took me a year and a half to write a first draft, but in November 2013 and 2014 I had a first drafts finished in about two months, and in July 2014 I wrote an entire first draft in a single month. At the same time it is important to remember that an event cannot make a writer write. It’s still up to writers to put their time and energy into putting those words on paper or a screen.

Finding time to write is hard, and sometimes next to impossible. I’m not suggesting anyone abandon a baby, neglect a major school projects, or a job for the sake of their writing. I’m suggesting that those who truly want to get a story written try to plan out their activities to make time when writing whenever possible. According to a 2013 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics 95% of US citizens participate in a leasure activity, and the average American age 15 and older spends more than five hours a day on leisure activities this means that while I can’t speak for people in the rest of the world, most people in the US have a few hours worth of time they could be devoting to writing instead of watching TV, YouTube, or reading Tumblr.

All the time I hear people I know telling me all about how they went to bed at 2 am and have absolutely no time for anything anymore. Then they proceed to tell me about that new episode of The Vampire Diaries or Game of Thrones they watched last night. Could these people have gone to bed earlier? Probably, but they decided they valued TV over sleep. Well, someone could also decide to value writing over sleep if they’re just going to stay up late anyway.

There are extremely good reasons to not have time to write, but for many people I think the main culprit is distraction. We live in the addicting modern world of the internet, and getting distracted by the internet is far easier and more fun than typing in solitude, especially once the initial excitement of the story has died down.

This month I’ve gotten lucky, and am doing much better than I expected, but it is not without sacrifice. This month I expected to only have time for 20,000 words which I surpassed on the 16th. By watching fewer YouTube videos, spending less time daydreaming, and reading fewer books I’ve been able to free up time I never knew I had. Could I maintain the current rate at which I’m writing for the long term? Unless I quit school, and put some other responsibilities permanently on hold probably not. I’ve been sacrificing some sleep as well, and I’m not one of those people who can function well in the long term without a full seven to eight hours of rest, but the point is that right now I’m finding a way to get what I want to do done, and what I want to do is write.

The April event has actually brought me out of a couple month long writing slump. Between the months of January, February, and March I’ve written only a few thousand words. Before the event my enthusiasm was building, and I now realize how much I had been missing getting those words on paper. With the exception of a few short stories I wrote for school assignments the only thing I’d written for the past three months was nonfiction. As much as I love writing nonfiction pieces like book reviews and this post, I like writing fiction even more. It just has this great quality that when I finish writing I feel as if I have created something from nothing whereas with nonfiction I feel as though I have merely complied preexisting information into a way that is easier to understand.

This month I am writing on my third draft of my November 2013 project, that’s right the same one where I suffered such a massive mid-month slump, and I can honestly say that at this time in the month I have gotten much further writing my third draft than I was at the equivalent of this time of the month writing the first draft even though this is my second time almost entirely rewriting it.

I wish everyone participating this month luck in reaching their goal, and regardless of whether you win or not, or even whether you’re participating or not, I wish all the writers reading this post luck in finishing their current project, because that’s what truly matters. If a writer loses for the month, but have still gotten closer to the finished product than it’s still 2K, 10K, or 25K closer to whatever s/he started out with.

This isn’t my usual type of post, and that I probably should have made a post about my participation at the beginning of the month, but between life and Camp NaNo I’ve just never got around to it. Regardless, I hope everyone enjoyed this atypical post and is having a great month.

If you’re participating in this month I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below! What’s your current word count? Are you suffering from a mid-month slump, or have you managed to stay motivated and pull though? If so, what’s your secret?

Camp Nanowrimo: April

Note: Image provided by campnanowrimo.org.

For those who don’t know November is National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo for short. During November writers of various skill levels from all over the world attempt the seemingly impossible– writing a novel (or at least the first 50,000 words) in a single thirty day period.

Writing 50,000 words in one month can be daunting for a number of reasons. Sometimes November is simply a busy month and work or school get in the way. Camp NaNoWriMo is the solution.

Camp is a more relaxed version of the main event in which participants can chose their own word count goals. Participants don’t have to write a novel either. There are people writing everything from scripts to memoirs to graphic novels. Feel free to edit or rewrite a novel for this event. The general rule for line edits is that an hour of editing counts for 1,000 words written according to the @nanowrimo Twitter page.

This event would not be complete without a summer camp theme. This year participants are sorted into a virtual “cabin” of twelve members. Participants can chose to be sorted randomly or chose cabin members based on the criteria of age or genre.

Cabin members receive an overall cabin word count goal and a “cabin forum” which is private to members of that specific cabin. There are also the camp forums over at nanowrimo.org which allow participants to get motivation from outside their cabin.

The next camp season starts in two days on the first of April, but it’s not two late to join. If April isn’t a good time then there is always the July session. Register at campnanowrimo.org.

The only major criteria to participate on the main site is that you must be 13 years of age or older. Under 13? No problem! Participate in the young writers version at ywp.nanowrimo.org.

Are you participating in Camp this April? Then comment below and share your experience or expectations!