Camp NaNoWriMo Fail: July 2019 Edition

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At the beginning of July, I decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo again. During last year’s challenge, I didn’t meet the goal I had set, but I did get some work accomplished on that particular project.

This year was an entirely different story.

By day three, I had decided that I hated the novel that I’d planned out – a psychological suspense with an alcoholic main character and what I felt to be a somewhat far-fetched plot. The protagonist wasn’t likable, the story was a bit on the dark side, and I had no desire to continue on with the project. Instead, I tried to resurrect another novel that I’d set aside a couple of years ago – a lighthearted cozy mystery set in a quaint beach town. I’d talked myself into wanting to write that story. I liked the characters and the idea much more than the suspense novel, so I spent a day or two going over my notes and outline for that story.

And then I did nothing.

For about a week, maybe longer, I honestly don’t remember at this point.

Sometime during the week of July 7th through the 13th, I happened to read my horoscope. The last line read: “Indulge: Your ideas might not be as FAR-FETCHED as they seem!”

That “far-fetched” caught my eye because that is the exact phrase I’d been using to describe the plot for my psychological suspense novel. Kind of a coincidence, don’t ya think? I got super excited. This actually was no coincidence. My horoscope was trying to tell me something, so I took it as a sign and decided to scrap the cozy mystery and go back to the psychological suspense.

And then I did nothing.

For a couple days, maybe longer, I honestly don’t remember at this point.

Then, I filed away all my notes on both projects and haven’t opened them since. I don’t want to work on either of these projects.

Camp NaNoWriMo has taught me some things.

I’m not cut out for NaNoWriMo and I’m not cut out for speed writing a draft of a novel, particularly in a group environment where accountability plays a factor. It just makes me feel like shit when I don’t keep up. And frankly, I’m tired of beating myself up for not reaching goals that were set too high in the first place.

All of my writing efforts have been for one reason – getting published. The idea of getting published has been driving me to stop and start projects and flip flop back and forth between genres. Each time I start thinking about writing a story, the first thing that comes to mind is whether or not it will be publishable. Never once (at least lately) have I thought about writing it just for the love of writing.

I’m done with solely focusing on getting published. I’m done with setting the bar too high. I’m done participating in group writing activities like NaNoWriMo.

Making these decisions has taken the pressure off. I have started writing another story, something from the heart. It’s not a mystery or suspense, just a story about someone on a journey of some kind. I have vague ideas of what that journey will be and what will happen to my protagonist. I’m going to work on this little by little each day and see where it leads, and I’ll be keeping it to myself for now. It’s not for NaNoWriMo. It’s not for family or friends, this blog, writing groups or social media, and I’m not writing it with the goal of getting it published.

It’s a story just for me. To discover who I am as a writer, what kind of stories I really want to write, and to finally find my voice.

Hmm, maybe Camp NaNoWriMo wasn’t such a failure after all.

 

How To Be A Writer: Start Writing

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Over my extended winter hiatus, I’ve accomplished little to no writing at all. I want to be a writer, yet I don’t write on a regular basis. This has been a recurring theme in my life. One that I’m in the process of changing.

The truth is, I have been working on a story idea that first came to mind back in December but I haven’t starting writing it yet. I spend way too much time in the pre-writing/plotting/planning stage. I know deep down that this is nothing more than procrastination and a way for me to avoid writing the actual story, but I’ve convinced myself that it’s okay because it’s “just part of the process.”

But here’s the thing:

  • Planning a story is not writing.
  • Outlining a story is not writing.
  • Thinking about a story is not writing.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve paid more attention to trying to build up my writing habit. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when I take a day or two off, those couple of days can easily lapse into weeks without writing. Getting back into the groove after such a long break isn’t easy and I often feel as though I’m starting from square one every time I do this.

It’s clear to me that I am a person who must write every day, especially while I’m doing the pre-writing stuff for my novel.

I’ve created a goal for myself and that is to set aside a minimum of fifteen minutes a day dedicated solely to writing something. It could be a blog post, the start of a short story, a flash fiction piece, or a writing exercise from one of the many craft books in my collection. What I write isn’t necessarily important, creating the habit is what matters here.

My dream is to be a writer, finish that novel, and become a published author. The one and only way to do that is to start writing and do it often.

Winter Hiatus

Hey Everyone! Did you survive the holiday season? Somehow I managed to make it through Christmas and New Year’s unscathed. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about the things I want to accomplish in 2019.

Writing, of course, is at the top of the list.

In 2018, I managed to write more than I had in past years, but I still feel unaccomplished with respect to where I want to be at this point in my writing life. I’ve flip flopped over what I want to write about, still haven’t found my voice, and haven’t completed too many stories. I’ve been thinking about what’s keeping me from moving forward, and a big part of it has to do with self-doubt and my inability to truly commit to anything. I’ve half-assed my way through life and it’s come time to end that behavior.

Commit is going to be my 2019 word of the year. Instead of wishing, dreaming, and simply saying I want to accomplish something, I am going to commit to putting in the work to achieve my goals. This means major behavioral changes are in order. I’ve done a bit of self-reflection to try and understand what issues are keeping me from getting shit done and I’ve narrowed it down to two things: Distraction and laziness.

These are two of the biggest hindrances in my life, as well as my resistance to stepping out of my comfort zone. My life will never change if I don’t make the effort to overcome these obstacles.

I’ve decided to tackle obvious distractions that get in my way. The internet and social media are problems for me. They’re also part of what creates self-doubt for me. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and their perceived successes. You end up feeling bad about yourself and thinking you suck. I do this with the writers I follow online. It’s just not healthy.

A few months ago, I started cutting back on the amount of time I spend on Facebook and I’m glad for it. FB is a huge time suck. Now it’s time I cut back on the rest of my online activity. For the rest of the winter, I’ll be disconnecting from the interwebs so I can concentrate on writing, reading, and a few other personal things I’ve neglected over the years.

It’d be great if I was going to be holed up in the cabin pictured above all winter. Imagine all the writing I’d get done. Instead, I’ll be wintering in the warm South as always, committing to becoming the writer I know I can be.

Seasons Greetings

Happy Holidays, everyone!

This is my last post of 2018. For the most part, this year has been an uneventful one. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago and instead adopted the practice of choosing a word to help guide me through the year.

The word I chose for 2018 was CHANGE.

I had big plans in January for all the ways I was going to make changes in my life: Write more, submit more work for publication, transition to a healthier lifestyle (aka lose weight and exercise), meditate, earn more money, etc. Welp, most of that stuff didn’t happen. I did write a little more than I had in years past, but focusing on my one word for the year went out the window around mid March.

Needless to say, not much in my world changed in 2018. As of yet, I haven’t settled on a word for 2019, but I have a few ideas mulling around in my brain and I’m looking forward to a fresh start come January.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you all have a great holiday season, and I will see you again in the new year!