Saturday, April 29, 2017

Things I've Learned: Camp '17

Hello everyone! Camp is at it's tail end and I've almost reached my word count goal. This NaNoWriMo camp has been a curved learning experience for me since it's the first event I've participated in since working full time. So, I'm going to share my experience and what I learned from writing in Camp this month.

Time Management

To be honest, I was mainly writing blog posts before camp started up. Sure, I was trying to organize and prioritize my writing, but it had been a few months since I had jumped into writing. I thought having a planner with my word count goals and things to do would be a great way to approach camp. The main problem with a planner is, you have to use it. In hindsight, I always use my phone, so it would have been more beneficial to have writing reminders on there.

One big shift I started about two weeks ago was communicating to my partner that I needed time to write. It was a hard transition at first, usually we watch shows for a long time and then maybe do other things. This last week was much easier, especially since he found a game he enjoys, and I've gotten to write so much more because of it.

Finding a time to write should have been my first priority instead of thinking that time would magically appear. Now I hope to continue this trend, even if it's only a few times a week, so I can still have writing be a part of my daily routine.

Smart Goals

Changing my goals from 50k, to 30k, and ultimately 15k was a hard thing to do. In the past, I probably wouldn't have considered doing such a thing, and then floundered with it. I saw I was having problems getting to that word count that I originally set. As the word count per day needed to finish on time grew, I became more stressed, and less willing to write.

If I would have kept it at 50k, I know for a fact I wouldn't have gotten anywhere near 15k of words, and by changing my goal I was able to get motivated once again to continue writing. Is every word perfect? No. Will it need work? Yes. But, more importantly, did I enjoy writing? Yes.

Now, I had forgotten that with Camp you can choose between: words, hours, minutes, lines, and pages. In the future I plan on using a category other than words, most likely pages, to keep track of my progress. That way I can learn more tricks to keep myself motivated to write and other ways to fit it in my busy schedule. But, there is one other reason why it was so hard to write.


Outlining

Outline is something I try to do, and generally fail, to accomplish before any writing project. There's two reasons that come to mind. First, I don't always know what the story should include and therefore don't have a clear outline. And second, I come up with 'better' ideas along the way, which generally make me question my decision on writing it.

For my current story I had actually started writing this back in August or thereabouts, by hand. Before camp started I knew that I only wanted to pull the characters, and a few scenes, out of that story so I was essentially starting from scratch. The only clear direction I have is to make it a series, since I bought the book covers at a great price, and there were five made for the series. I would love to use all five but I need more time to figure out what the overall plot should be to make it last and be enjoyable to myself and potential readers.

So the TL;DR aspect of this section is that outlines can, and should, be your friend during Camp. Even if you don't listen to them, it'll at least give you an idea of where to go.


Things for the future

I believe encompassing all three of these things I've learned with help me immensely, and I hope it can help you too, no matter what your strengths or weaknesses are. I just happen to be a stubborn procrastinator who gets pretty book covers without writing all of the series first. But, the more I remind myself, the more I can work on it and move forward. Will my time management is perfect? No. Will my goals be the same as other writers? No. Will my next outline be earth shatteringly good? Hopefully not, but you get the point.

Even if you didn't participate this Camp with your writing, how do you think you could better yourself as a writer? It will benefit you, as it has for me, just to identify something to improve upon. It doesn't have to be perfect but it should help you reach your ultimate goal for yourself.

So, if you found my blog post helpful, please share it with a friend or post a friendly comment. I hope to get back into the groove of things in May so please check back in. Until next time, keep writing. :)

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