It’s July! For me, this only means one thing: Camp NaNoWriMo. Being in the middle of my summer holiday and with no exams or deadlines looming, July is the perfect time for me to write. This July’s Camp NaNo marks the fourth year I’ve been working on my novel, The Secrets The Dead Keep, and I’m really excited to be working on the second draft this month, after finishing the first draft during July 2014’s event. Here’s how it’s going so far.
But first, for anyone who hasn’t heard of NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month, even though it’s actually international… don’t ask me, it wasn’t my idea), it’s a month-long online event which challenges participants to write 50,000 words within 30 days. The original NaNoWriMo is held in November, but a few years ago, the Office Of Letters And Light (the organisation responsible for the event) introduced Camp NaNoWriMo, which is held twice yearly – in April and July. For more information on NaNoWriMo, follow this link, and for more information on Camp NaNoWriMo, follow this link.
The first week of this July’s Camp NaNo has been pretty good; so far, I’ve managed to stay pretty on-track. At this particular moment in time, I’m about 800 words ahead of my current target word count. I only missed the word count on one day, but I made up for my measly 500 words by writing 3,000 (!!!) the day after.
There are generally two strategies for completing NaNoWriMo: planning and ‘pantsing’ – i.e., whether or not you plot/outline your project beforehand, or whether you just start writing on the 1st of July and see what happens. Back in July 2014, when I finished my first draft, I planned. I planned out every single scene and… it felt like following Ikea instructions. The finished product was very functional (my mum loved it), but to me it lacked a certain something. It lacked that passion that was obvious in every line of the unfinished first attempt from way back in 2012’s Camp NaNo.
This year I’m… neither planning nor ‘pantsing’. That is to say, I made a plan more extensive than I did in 2014 (this one actually had an ending before the beginning of July; in 2014 I planned up to the middle of the story before I started writing, and then updated my plan when I actually thought of a suitable ending). But the difference is that this year I’m trying to look at my plan as little as possible. It gives me the confidence of knowing exactly where my story is going while simultaneously giving me the freedom and spontaneity of having absolutely no idea where it’s going. It makes me feel creative even when I’m actually just ticking scenes off a checklist as I write them. It’s bringing life back to my story and characters. At least, I hope it is!
The other thing that’s making me more excited about this draft that the previous one is the plot changes. As I said, I only finished my 2014 scene-by-scene plan halfway through the month. This is because, despite having already been working on this novel for two years by this point, I had no idea how I was going to build up to my conclusion – or even what my conclusion was going to be. Eventually I found something that worked and slapped that in place. It was very obvious that it needed improvement. Plus, when you’ve been writing the same story for four years, you do need to keep it interesting for yourself. The changes I’ve made and the new aspects I’ve added mean I’m currently much happier with my plot. Let’s just hope I’m still as happy with it once I’ve written it!
Good luck to anyone else doing Camp NaNoWriMo this July! 🙂