Camp NaNoWriMo Fail: July 2019 Edition


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.


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