Thoughts at the End of Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, it’s the beginning of May, which means it is the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. Did you go to camp last month? Did you find it to be “an idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life”? I can’t say I found it to be an idyllic retreat, but it was useful and I wanted to share a few thoughts now that it’s over.

Unlike its better-known cousin, NaNoWriMo, which happens every November, Camp NaNoWriMo happens in April and July. And, unlike NaNoWriMo, during the camp months you get to set your own writing goals. You can still choose to do 50,000 words in a month or set your goal lower or higher depending on what you want to accomplish.

I decided, on a whim, about two days before April started, to do Camp NaNoWriMo this year. I know, not the best way to go about it, especially when I’m not a pantser. But even though I have strong inner motivation to write, I wanted to really make some progress on a work so I could move into revision mode this summer. So how did it go?

I set my goal at 30,000 words as it was ambitious enough that I’d have to write pretty much every day, but not so high that I’d never be able to reach it and get discouraged. With my teaching schedule this term and other assorted projects, etc., I knew that getting to 50,000 words wasn’t going to accomplish anything.

Then I just started writing. I wrote and wrote, scribbling some notes in the margins with comments for rearranging things later. I didn’t have a plan and I didn’t write in sequence, which is really strange for me. But it worked and when you’re trying to get words on the page and it’s working, who am I to question it?

I got to 30,000 words (yay!) and estimate I have around 10,000 more to write to wrap up this drafting to add to what I already had before April started. Then I’ll have a completed first draft with some parts that are wildly out of order, but that will work with revisions I’m thinking. (Besides, I quite like revising. I just need something on the page to revise.)

So Camp NaNoWriMo might not have been a relaxing or idyllic retreat, but it helped me get more words on the page, to have an “excuse” to carve out more time for my writing, and to find more joy in creating, which I really needed in a topsy-turvy month. Plus, I had my “ah-ha!” moment on the last day of writing and a plot point clicked into place that makes the story work so much better than before. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

Finding joy in creating, being surprised by the writing, and coming away smiling at the thought of doing it all over again the next day.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go back to my cabin and write. 🙂

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