Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018

In hindsight, I recall in my prior 2018 NaNoWriMo post for April how I was confused about it being so early. I still don’t know why there are two, but the more, the merrier! The only things that have changed since April’s camp NaNoWriMo are that instead of being in four classes, I’m now in three for this summer semester, and additionally, I won’t be working on the novel that I have been for the past two NaNoWriMo’s.

To get into my Senior Development class for the winter quarter, we have to submit a portfolio of at least two works during midterms of fall quarter. Fall quarter is when I’m set up for the first half of writing a feature film, and most other people in my graduation year have already taken this awhile ago. So, I have to make up for lost time and write a feature film over the summer, so I have something to graduate with.

Therefore, my July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo goal is to write 110 pages of a feature script for this action-packed suspense/thriller I’m writing, Double Bind. One assassination goes wrong when the targets have fled the country and have instead placed their estranged daughter in their home. To make matters worse, a different assassin is hired to kill them both. They have to work together to survive this ordeal and find out who’s behind all of this.

I’m already at a full 17 pages in three days, so things are going pretty well. I worry about how I’ll do during the second act, but I’m sure I’ll be able to fix any issues that arise. And in regards to my previous NaNoWriMo novel, I wasn’t able to finish it last month, and I’m not entirely sure when I will, but I’ve got some time in the next few months that I’m sure I can hunker down for the last few chapters. If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, I hope your progress is going smoothly, and if it isn’t, it’s only day four, so don’t lose hope on catching up!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2018 – Results

When I posted my last blog, I was a little over a thousand words behind my planned pace. It was also midterms for me. For the next few days I wrote about a thousand words a day and pulled ahead of schedule to complete my goal on the 29th! (Which you could’ve seen ahead of time if you follow me on twitter. 😉)

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In April, I wrote 21,403 words towards my work in progress novel Obscura. I tried to finish it for NaNoWriMo back in November, but that crashed and burned about halfway through. This time, I was able to come back from the mini-crash halfway. It helped to have a smaller goal where I had to write about 666 words a day instead of 1,666 words per day. I found I was most successful when I made it a part of my routine to write an hour or so before going to bed.

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As happy as I am about meeting my goal, I still have a couple of scenes left to get done. I estimate I’ll have about 10,000 more words before I finish the book. It would set the book at about 60,000 words. While I usually aim for 70-75 thousand words, I already have an idea what I’ll have to edit and also rewrite certain sections. Of course, I’m currently editing my novel What Darkness Does, so I’ll save Obscura for after that.

I hope everyone did well on their goals; even if you didn’t finish, you still have more than you started with!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2018 – Weeks 2-4

There’s a reason this blog is late as well as any updates; I haven’t been able to sit down and write for almost the entire first week! Moving took more energy out of me than I imagined. I was so close to 10,000 words –my halfway point– that I felt that I wouldn’t post an update until I at least reached that goal.

I hit it Wednesday night after four nights of being unable to write. The only other writing I managed to do that week was about a hundred words the day before moving, and about a hundred words the first day of my moving process. I had some time to sit down and focus while waiting for the Comcast guy to arrive and setup my TV and internet.
Immediately following that, when I finally got to getting back on track, I got hit with some sort of upper respiratory infection that has given me a low fever since Friday. I had time to write at that point, but my energy and concentration was focused on being able to breath and stay upright.

I missed last night, since I had to catch up on schoolwork that I didn’t have very much energy to complete over the weekend. Otherwise, I’m at about 14,000 words when I should be at 16,000. I’m not too worried about catching up; the past few days (with the exception of last night) I’ve been writing about 800-1,000 words per night. Now with midterms out of the way, I’m confident that I can catch up and finish on time or maybe even earlier. I look forward to finishing this novel, and finishing this marking period of classes since wow 20 credit hours is doing a toll on me.

I hope everyone else’s Camp NaNoWriMo experiences are going better than mine!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2018 – Week 1

I don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m managing to keep up to pace with my word goal. In my first week, I wrote 6,061 words, with a goal of 4,662 words if I went to my predetermined pace of 666 words a day. On average, I’ve been writing about 772 words per day. I generally spend around 30-45 minutes each day to focus on writing my novel, which is a lot considering I have a course load of 20 credit hours a week. My time between getting assignments done and packing to move is very sparse, and I expect to be tested in the upcoming week.

In November I was thrown off my groove from some things, but one of the more prominent being finals. Midterms are approaching. However, I only have one formal midterm test to take. I expect that I might slump a little this weekend with my moving situation, but thankfully I’m ahead right now to hopefully deal with that. I have a couple of other things that are popping up — because when else besides when I’m doing a monthly challenge— like applying for more scholarships and for a potential peer tutor job.

When it comes to writing the novel itself, I’ve discovered that I’ve been shifting different scenes back and forth. While they logically are in better order and my plans are rough touchstones, I worry about keeping track of everything that still needs to be paid off. I usually allow flexibility so certain things can arrive naturally while I’m writing, but it still worries me as I move forward. I think that’s my overhanging sense of general anxiety, however, so I will pursue 20,000 words nonetheless!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

Remember how in a little blog post back in November I revealed I didn’t actually finish my NaNoWriMo novel? I decided to finish it for Camp NaNoWriMo! I was about 29,000 words in, so my goal is to write about 20,000 more words to reach the original NaNoWriMo goal. Due to a crazy amount of pop up issues and events in November, I hadn’t accounted for them to plan around them. In April, I’ve already planned out all of my assignments and when I’m doing them plus about how much time it’ll take to complete them. I may have an overfilled 20 hours a week course load, but I’m up for the challenge.

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s an acronym for National Novel Writing Month (in November), and also a nonprofit organization. The goal for November is to write at least 50,000 words of a novel. There’s also Camp NaNoWriMo, which is where you can set your own goals; whether it be editing or a different amount of words. It typically takes place sometime near the summer (although it’s a little early this year if you ask me; can’t go “camping” if it’s not summer).

For this, I’ll be continuing a novel I’m working on called Obscura. A major issue I had where I left off of writing was how to get between major plot points. I can’t just go from little events to something catastrophic, so finding the incidents to build up to the climactic scene was what I focused on solving in the past few months. Now that I’ve got almost as many events as I had already written, I feel confident enough to continue.

Despite the fact I have three lecture classes and a studio, so far in the first couple days of writing it hasn’t been too difficult. Although I might be overestimating for the difficulty level from being the second week of classes, I don’t think it should be too difficult to find time to work on this project of my own. Because I want to write about 20,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo, I would need to write about 666 words per day. This takes me about half an hour on average, and so far I’ve been able to accomplish such. Because it’s been only school nights so far, I’ve been holding off until my homework’s done to write. It’s a block of time I’m sure I can devote for the rest of April, however, I can see being mentally overloaded from classes to be a potential issue. I’ve only written Sunday and Monday’s additions, totaling 1,845 words. I look forward to working on this for the next month and coming out with a solid first draft after having fixed the issues I was struggling with before.

Writing Sprints Experience

This July, I challenged myself to finish a book I was writing and write 6 pages a day. I treated them as separate goals, considering I know I wouldn’t be able to write on one subject alone for a month straight. That’s just not how I work at all, and in order to encourage me to write every day and keep track of what I was writing, I found that there as an app for it called 5KWPH, created by a writer by the name of Chris Fox. (This is not any kind of sponsored post; it’s just what I learned by utilizing the app.)

The app was easily accessible, and efficient even in its free version. I was only able to keep track of one project at a time, and once discovering that, that’s where I got the idea to test out writing my book with it. I began with 20 minute sprints that I’d separate with about 5-10 minute breaks in between.

In my first couple of sprints, my average was around the rate of 1,860 words per hour (wph). As time went on, I could do more words per hour as I went on, naturally. My highest rate (and definitely an outlier) was 2,442 wph. I got more and more into the challenge of seeing if I could get close to 5,000 wph while I wrote my book. What can I say; I like pushing my limits and seeing what I can do.

I got a lot more done as I wrote, quite obviously. Numbers are encouraging to me. The science of keeping track of my own progress reinforces my confidence in my abilities and –at least for me—is encouraging to continue my passions. I could reach about six pages in an hour, and at the least that meant I could write one hour a day and reach my goal.

Something else I noticed while doing writing sprints was that the more I did them in shorter bouts, the more I didn’t want to write. It was the most unexpected and weirdest effect of this activity. I’d spend so much intense energy focusing on writing that it’d be exhausting on my breaks. I felt like I wanted to spend more time taking breaks than to continue writing.

However, there are a certain number of other factors that if I changed, I wonder if I’d still feel the same. If I switched between projects with this method, whether it be every other day or maybe even every other sprint, would I still feel exhausted? I’ve never had immense difficulty with focusing on certain tasks, but if anything I wind up hyper-focusing and then getting burnt out before I go to do something else.

In order to combat this feeling of intense exhaustion, I decided to see what would happen if I extended the sprints to 30 minute sprints. My rate of work was roughly the same, and at times, even higher than the average rate of 20 minute sprints. I produced about the same results and feel less significant pressure by just adding on ten more minutes, thus only needing one break between sprints instead of two. Additionally, I had gotten used to doing three sprints a day and wound up falling into the habit of doing an hour and a half of writing per day easily, contrary to just the one. I’d be able to get the third sprint in and only then would the exhaustion start to creep in.

The app was certainly helpful. The only two issues I had with the app itself was that it was occasionally buggy. If I paused the sprint sometimes the app would launch myself back a couple of minutes when I resumed it, and others it just stopped the sprint altogether. Usually that happened if I hopped to another app quickly or answered a phone call. The only other “issue” I had with the app (which isn’t really one at all) was the layout when receiving your sprint results. It’d list the project, wph, sprint duration, daily words, and then finally the sprint words. It’d be much more efficient to have the sprint words before the sprint duration, or even the words per hour. That’s the first thing I want to know when I finished a sprint; how many words I did and then the rate. Considering I’d wind up writing past midnight, when I’d try to calculate my own daily words it got confusing to find the right numbers. That’s just my own thoughts on the design, however. Functionality-wise, the app works near-perfectly.

Overall? I’ll definitely be doing writing sprints again, probably for NaNoWriMo. Considering on most days (except like, two) I was able to accomplish the minimum for NaNoWriMo, I am confident with this method I’ll be able to win my first attempt as well. For writing as long as I have, I’m surprised I haven’t discovered this sooner. I’m glad I have!

 

King Challenge 2017 – Results!

This July, I challenged myself to write 6 pages a day, every day for the month of July. (In a previous post, I talked about being inspired to do this from watching a video where George R.R. Martin and Stephen King had a chat.) Originally I had a mini-vacation planned that I was going to exempt from my challenge, but eventually my plans fell apart so I wound up not going anywhere. Therefore, I wrote during those days as well. My second goal of this challenge was to finish writing a book of mine that I started last year. Let’s see how I did.

 

I succeeded! In retrospect, I shouldn’t have had too many issues with succeeding due to my limited amount of plans; the majority of the days were free and I was alone in my cabin with my only distractions being the ones I created for myself. A couple of the weekends I traveled back to visit nearby family, and the travel time was usually around 3 hours, so that took significant chunks out of the day.

There were two days (July 6th, July 22nd) I almost couldn’t get to my goal. The sixth was the day before the vacation when I wound up being mentally overloaded so I called it off, and the twenty-second was my sister’s belated birthday party. Considering the house had over 100 people in it throughout the day, and the fact that for the better part of 3 weeks I had little face to face contact with other people, it was pretty draining.

Both of those days, along with one or two more, I didn’t work on my book. I didn’t want to write such an important first draft with little to no energy, and so I worked on some short stories or scenes for other stories/books. I’m always juggling projects, so it’s not like it’s not helping in any way.

In total, I wrote about 447.5 pages in that month, along with 122,424 words. When I picked up writing my book, I had been at around page 75. In total, my book wound up having 256 pages. So that means I wrote about 181 pages during the month towards it. Less than half of what I wrote that month went towards the book. I found that pretty ironic, considering that finishing the book was my entire goal for doing this self-imposed challenge. When I go through my files from the past month, a lot of them are from the warm-ups or other books I worked on. (I remember on Monday the 3rd I came up with a new book idea and worked almost exclusively on that. My brain seems to never stop, even when I want to sit down and focus on something.)

My writing habits usually are to write in the midday, but during the month I found myself writing fairly late into the night/early morning. There were many days where I’d be deliriously blasting 80’s horror movie music while bopping around and writing. It was great. My sleeping schedule wasn’t as great, but I had nothing too significant to do in a strict, timely manner so it all worked out. Every day I wrote for at least an hour, and near the end I started writing for about an hour and a half to two hours. Usually I can accomplish six pages in an hour.

I also decided to try a sub-challenge as I went on; I later learned Camp NaNoWriMo was occurring, and looked up the general suggestions and rules for it. Because I was aiming for adding around 40k to my book, I felt it would be wrong to put all of my book in the box that you copy in. Therefore, I decided to try to do their suggested ~1,666 words a day. There were two days I didn’t manage to hit that goal, but the others made up for it. For my book, I wound up adding 51,989 words to my book for it to total 72,786. If you’re curious how I kept track of all the numbers, I tried out the 5KWPH app throughout the month to keep track of my writing sprints. I’m going to make a post about my experience with that soon, because through that I learned a lot as well.

So overall, my findings for my experiment were about what I expected, but it’s really cool to see the numbers behind my productivity. I wish I kept track of how much I wrote during January and February when I finished two books I’d been working on for years; it would’ve been wild to see the amount of words I wrote per day then! This experiment also tells me that I can most likely complete NaNoWriMo. It’ll be harder to accomplish from school being in session, but I’m sure I’ll find my way to succeeding with that as well.

I encourage anyone to try this out and see what your results are. It’s an interesting labor of love for writing and experiment to be able to see what you can accomplish. In my case, it wound up being rather encouraging, and I hope it is for you too!

King Challenge 2017

Last year I did my own writing experiment. I didn’t know if I’d be able to accomplish my goal, but I knew I wanted to try. It stemmed from a writer’s event that had Steven King and George R. R. Martin talking about their craft. About 50 minutes into it, one of my favorite exchanges between writers was made. (Here’s a link right to the exchange, but I’ll summarize it here too.)

They were wrapping up their conversation, and Martin asked King, “How the fuck do you write so many books so fast?” with a chorus of laughter following behind. King explained that his writing process involved writing six fairly clean pages a day, 3-4 hours every day that he’s working on a book. Therefore, he could have a manuscript of about 360 pages in two months. Martin asked him if he regularly hit six pages a day, and King said he usually did. Martin then further asked, “You don’t ever have a day where you sit down there and it’s like constipation and you write a sentence and you hate the sentence and you check your email and you wonder if you ever had any talent after all?” And King answered with a no, explaining that spontaneous life events pop up but he still tries to get those six pages in.

That exchange made me reflect on my own writing habits. On a good day, I could get about 6 pages in. Then the thought occurred to me: If Stephen King could do that, then I could do it too. It’s possible, and I was going to do it. I already had a novel planned with its major and minor events, and I decided it’d allow me the perfect opportunity to try to follow that standard of writing.

I had a week to myself with no other distractions in my cabin home, and I had 10 days to see what I could do. Much to my own surprise, I committed to the six pages. In fact, my total page count was 75, and my total word count was 20,817 words. The only downside is that there are some parts that will need more revising before sending out to beta readers, but as far as progress goes, I’d say it worked out fairly well.

This year I’m going to see if I can do it again except instead of a week, I’ll be using the month of July. I have a small 4 day vacation one weekend, but otherwise I’ll be writing every day. I’ll be working on the same book, seeing as I haven’t finished it yet, so my goal first and foremost is to finish that book. With my other two books that I’ve written, it’s taken me years to finish them with agonizingly clear shifts in skill level ridden throughout that I’ll have to rewrite completely to maintain a consistent voice. I refuse to fall into that happenstance again, so therefore, my second goal is to write six pages a day. That way, I’ll be able to finish the book itself within the time frame I have set.

At the end of July, I’ll post an update where I explain my experiences with what I’m going to call the King challenge. See you then!