Hello everyone, I was asked to compare print books and e-books for a class assignment. It occurred to me that while I’ve seen lots of book bloggers compare the two based on their personal preferences, I’ve never seen a post … Continue reading
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Okay everyone, today I’m trying something a little different and writing a discussion post followed by a review. The discussion is spoiler free. Unlike my usual reviews, this review will contain spoilers. You have been warned! Continue reading
I 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.
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?