Each November, I take part in National Novel Writing Month. I skipped attempting this in 2014, but have completed the task seven times.
Each year, the offerings and forum spaces have changed and the movement has grown. Unofficial months replicating the national one sprung up, and now NaNo runs two ‘camps‘ where people can set smaller (or bigger) goals for a month.
I signed up for one of these camps in 2013, but didn’t actually begin a project. This year, though, I’m working my way through the challenge.
My annual goal is to write 100,000 new words across the year, only including actual drafting (not words written in a plan, for example). That works out as 8,334 words per month.
But so far this year, I’ve fallen short.
Now, this isn’t surprising to me. I tend to find the winter months are my most active in terms of writing, and with a new year, I focus a little on new ideas and opportunities. I wrote a short story in January which required a lot of editing over drafting of new words, and I like to plan out the ideas for new novels in time to let them settle before November. Equally, if I’m aiming to complete 50,000 words in November, I only need 4,545 words for the remaining 11 months to hit that annual target.
But now we’re into April, I want to at least get those habits back on track, and use the word sprints, cabin motivations and bank holiday weekends to my advantage.
I signed up last on April 1st, so was already a day behind, without any project planned.
It’s day 15 of 30, and in the past 14 days I’ve written 3,273 words of a little novella set in Iceland. I really wanted a break from my fantasy settings, and an urban fantasy set in a city I’ve visited always opens up space to just write instead of figuring out what a road/house/person would look like in this world.
Being 619 words behind isn’t a great deal, in reality – but a key block comes from the lack of plan. I had a character and a setting, with a vague “she wants this but this obstacle exists” but no real “plot.” Thus, I’m planning the next scene based on the one before it, often using the first thought that comes to mind.
It’s not the greatest way to write a book, for me, at least, but this is where well-explored goals are vital. The goal of me participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is not to write a best-selling novel. It’s not even to finish the story, at this point. My aim is to get my monthly word-count up, and to explore descriptive writing of a setting I know.