Camp NaNoWriMo 2016

camp nano

With April right around the corner, I find myself prepping for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Last year’s camp project was a disaster. I started out with lots of hope and ambition; I wanted to reach a goal of 60,000 words. In the end I finished out the month with just over 7,000. Some would say that any words written were a success, and in that light they are right, but I was sad that I couldn’t meet my goals.

My pregnancy was a lot tougher than I had expected. Physically, it was pretty mild, I didn’t have too many complications other than my gallbladder, but emotionally I was a wreck. Anxiety would keep me awake for days, just staring at the clock, and then depression would hit and I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. I was still working at the school at the time as well, so between yo-yoing emotions and trying to put on a happy face and work, I was not focused on writing at all.

This year I’m in a much better place. I was really worried about post-postpartum depression, but things have been really positive. The first three months of being a mom were a blur, so I didn’t even attempt NaNoWriMo, but now I feel that I’m in a good groove with parenting, so I’m going to give Camp a go. Baby boy is by no means on a strict schedule, but he does nap several times a day, so I’m taking advantage of those times to get back into the swing of writing.

For this year’s Camp, I am going to be working on the sequel to my first Nano novel. After I finished that one, I realized that it served better as backstory for another character and his journey. At first I was really upset that I had written almost 300 pages of something that only scratched the surface of the story I really want to tell, but in actuality, I feel like I’m in a much better place to write this new story, because of all the work I did on the first.

I don’t have a title yet, but I do have a blurb written:

Hal, an orphaned young man lives in the restrictive confines of the American Resistance Compound. The world outside is a dangerous place; ravaged by war and disease after the North American Power Grid failed twenty years prior, the once free country fell to the oppressive power of the Chinese government.

Now with the ARC’s infrastructure failing and the appearance of a beautiful young Chinese scientist carrying a mysterious vial, the outside world is crashing in. People are getting sick from the plague they have battled to keep out for so long, and the only way to save them is a dangerous journey to a laboratory run by the Chinese that is rumored to have a cure.

Can Hal survive the outside world long enough to save the only family he has ever known? And can he trust his heart along the way?

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I’m really excited to get started! And with Camp’s more relaxed rules, I may just get writing a little early.

Are you participating in Camp this April? What are you writing? Let me know in the comments below!

My NaNo Plan-o

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You can see my hair goes crazy, the later it gets during my NaNo prep sessions!

So it is just one day before NaNoWriMo begins! Many people will be staying up until midnight tonight to write madly as the clock strikes 12. Some areas have planned midnight kick off parties to all get together and write. Living in rural Alaska, I don’t know anyone within 400 miles doing this as well so I will be writing on my own. I am going to pass on the midnight madness though- not because I’m not excited, but I have to be up early to take my dog out, and I’m becoming an old lady who goes to bed early! I blame it on working for the school and having to be up at 7am every day I substitute. Regardless, I plan on getting up early and sticking to my routine for writing. I talked about the benefits of a routine in a previous NaNoWriMo Prep post.

I have been prepping all of October, using a combination of methods that work for me, (Including Snowflake Method, Hero’s Journey, and Pinterest) and I wanted to share the product of that with all of you:

My Plot Outline

My Plot Outline

The photo shows the final plot outline I have created for my novel. It is essentially the final step of the Snowflake method, although I tweaked it a little to make sense in my brain. I have posted it on my husbands whiteboard in his classroom, so that I can see the entire plot right in front of me. I actually learned a lot about my structure and how things were working by getting it all out in front of me in one piece. I love technology, and working on my laptop, but with a file this big, it was begging to be printed. I then was able to read through, making notes about who was in what scene, as well as things I wanted to include or needed to research. It was very helpful to me.

By doing this, I actually saw that there was a huge problem with the original ending I had. This led to a night in turmoil while I freaked out and paced a lot talking to my husband trying to fix the end. Finally, I was able to scribble some notes in my notebook, having figured out how to solve the problem. The next day I added those excel pages to the end of my outline, and was able to see a clean 3 act structure had emerged.

To finish it off, I printed my novel’s Pinterest board, and pasted in the corner the pictures of my main characters and some quotes I found that related to their personalities or the overall story. Now I have inspiration at a quick glance! I am going to post this on the wall next to my table where I write (which happens to be in my dining room) so I will also have a really large, literally looming, reminder to write everyday!

Now I think that the next step is to simply sit down and write. Hopefully this will expedite the process for me, and I can fly through my first draft! I will be updating you all each week on Saturdays with my NaNo Progress.

How do you prepare for Nano? Are you excited to begin? Let me know your strategies (or how you are doing!) in the comments below.

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo!

When we were first thinking of moving to Alaska I wrote a list of things I would do with my time here because I would be essentially unemployed, save some substitute teaching. It was a question that was brought up by the school district in several of Nathan’s interviews, and something I addressed myself in one of my first blog posts. On that list I included “Write something… and finish it”

Ideally, I would love that something to be impactful, and great, and hey while I’m dreaming, I would love to pen a bestseller! But the most important thing is that I will write something… and finish it. As a teen I would write stories all the time. Scattered in notebooks, written in gel pen, bleeding with teenage angst and emotion, and all ultimately incomplete.

This is where NaNoWriMo comes into play. If you haven’t heard of it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is November. The premise of the website is to bring together writers from all over the world to write 50,000 words towards a novel in the 30 days of November. The stress on the word count is important: it pushes you to put your editing mind aside, and just write. Write whatever you are thinking. Write without a critical mind. Write without holding yourself back. Editing can come later, after you have a substantial first draft to work with.

This brings to mind the phrase my English Major Husband loves: Write Hot, Edit Cold. When you are really letting your creative juices flow, and feel like you are really inside the story, it is important to just keep going. Leave the critical eye for editing until a later time, after your passion has flowed onto the page. That is probably what I really needed as a teenager. I was so good at ‘writing hot’, but I never got around to the editing cold part.

NaNoWriMo forces you to have an accountability as well. You make a commitment, and the more you talk about it, the more weight being successful holds. For those in more densely populated areas they have meet ups in person where people can support each other and write to reach their goals. Because I am so far removed from civilization and literally have to take a plane to get anywhere, my meet ups and socialization must all happen electronically. So I am committing to telling everyone that I am setting this goal for myself, so that I will be accountable. I also plan on weekly ‘check in’ blog posts to let you all know how it is going!

Today NaNo’s Facebook page challenged all the writers to write a 150 word “Writer’s Manifesto”. Something that you can look at during the month of November when you aren’t feeling inspired, and remember why you wanted to do this challenge in the first place. Something to galvanize your spirit. I think this is a great idea, and will publish mine here. Having this audience makes me accountable, and less likely to fail.

My Writer’s Manifesto

I will complete what I set out to do, without compromise. I will write characters that embody the compassion I wish to share with the world, and the complexities that are alive in all of us. I will write women who are real, who may not always be strong, but are always true. I will write, even when I am scared, doubtful, and want to throw in the towel. Slaying my inner vampires I will overcome the barriers I create myself, and commit to creating openly and fearlessly. I will strive to write something that matters, something that inspires, something that makes a difference.

If you have ever participated in NaNoWriMo I would love to hear about your experiences! Any Advice, successes, stumbling blocks? Is it your first year too and you would like a writing buddy to help keep you accountable and on track? Let me hear about it in the comments below, and we can all work through this together!