Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up: What I Learned & Moving On

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. --Henry Miller

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. –Henry Miller

Oh Camp NaNoWriMo… why, oh why, oh why did I… wait… nevermind. It wasn’t a total failure since I did, after all, learn a ton and have a plan in the making for NaNoWriMo this November!

You know those runners who take off like a rocket and halfway through the race, they cramp up, slow down, and finally trot across the finish line in 20th place? And then there’s the ones who start off slow and steady and by the time the 3/4 mark hits, they have that reservoir of energy to pull from, and go sprinting across the finish line. Winner!

So back to Camp NaNoWriMo… I was the rocket that cramped up and died at the halfway point. Some was life circumstances, but some was lack of planning to get across the finish line. It’s like I wore flip-flops to the race or something.

So I’m going to break it down: what I did, what I learned and what I’ll do differently for NaNoWriMo this fall. And you can bet that being the slow and steady one is part of my plan. ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Did

As I mentioned, I started off like a rocket, blazing through thousands of words the first couple of weeks. At the midpoint, I was so badly prepared that I had no inspiration to keep going. I know, I know, I could have just kept writing everyday, even if it was just writing exercises or a different story altogther, but I have to tell ya, I lost my steam. Literally ran out of the office and abandoned the computer for the last two weeks.

What I Learned

I learned a lot. First, although I felt like I did a lot of research and made a pretty good outline prior to the start day, I didn’t actually bring all of that information down to earth enough to inspire the writing process through the 30 days. Also, part of my outline was so rigid that I couldn’t step away from it even when intuition was telling me to try something new. On the positive side (which I always like to pay special attention to), parts of theย  story flowed so well for me during the first couple of weeks that I will take some time to examine it over the coming weeks, and see if I can figure out why. Also, on my lasy two writing days, I sorta knew I was running out of steam so I left the outline on the side and just went where my heart desired, and I found a new key character that was missing from my original story. I wrote a few scenes with him and he is so important to the story that I can’t believe I didn’t have him there from the beginning. From this I learned that my outlining needs a new approach (as in some serious fluidity!) and I need a better guide for taking the process step by step (which is why I bought and began working through my new favorite book, Mary Caroll Moore’s Your Book Starts Here. So far, so great, and I will get into this book in my next post!)

What I’ll Do Differently For November 2015’s NaNoWriMo

There’s only three months between now and NaNoWriMo this November, but that’s plenty of time to devise a plan. First, I plan to read Mary Caroll Moore’s Your Book Starts Here. I’ll work through as much of the book as I can, with the intent of at least getting through the chapters on developing the book/story. I know Mary Caroll Moore has some wonderful tools for getting the the meat of the story and outlining so I’m hoping to find more clarity in my story and create a solid (and fluid) outline for 30 days on writing this November.

I had such a great time finding this crucial character during my last two Camp NaNo days that I plan to do some serious free writes with my story, characters and setting. Maybe I got stuck because I was not moving beyond the place I was in to get that greater perspective. (Yes, this post does tie in with the Henry Miller quote above. :))

Here’s something I’ll do very differently this November: I’ll carve out time for drafting scenes for the next day’s writing. When I say I didn’t bring my outline and research down to earth, I mean that I became frozen from the amount of information, instead of taking it one step at a time. In other words, not just looking at the book, or chapters, but at each scene in the chapter. And outlining each scene (loosly) before writing. I find that the only way I can create an authentic feeling scene is to be in that scene, 100%. I needed to find these gems, but I didn’t I just sort of stuck to my outline and plowed through each day and although I think it’s important to not stop and rewrite all the time since it gets you nowhere fast, but I still needed to revisit, reflect and plan for the next day. Most importantly, to take smaller bites (scenes) instead of devouring the whole meal at once (writing a chapter). I didn’t do enough of that and what I’ve discovered is that it is so inspiring to be emersed in one scene.

Also, I’m done with the days of working off of one outline! From now on, I work off of a fluid outline. Something that’s in place as a guide, but that gets revisited, and changed as needed, every couple of days. I recently heard about an author who list all the plot points of her story on a sheet (several dozen points), and she revisits it dozens and dozens of times through the drafting process. I love this: structured flexiblity. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m going to try it!

What I’m Into This Week:

Still reading the fabulous book (so good, so good!) by Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus.ย 

Started (yes, started) Breaking Bad. Great storytelling! And what’s even greater? I don’t have to wait for the next episode. All five seasons are on Netflix. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all for now. Any thoughts on Camp NaNoWriMo? Did anyone finish? Run into some stumbling blocks? Have new insights? Have tips to share? (fingers crossed you do!) Please share in the comments if you’d like. ๐Ÿ™‚


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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ch. 2 of Your Book Starts Here (Outer Story vs. Inner Story) | Ellie Lewis

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