Sheryl R. Hayes

Figuring out writing one word at a time.

Writing at “Summer Camp”

I admit it.  I’m not the most disciplined of writers.  It’s hard to get me motivated.  I’ll finish a scene or a draft and let it sit while I’m paralyzed with indecision about what to do next.  So I finally decided to do something about it.

I spent the last month participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.  It’s NaNoWriMo’s younger sibling with a few differences.  Its two sessions start the first of April and July, so you can pick which one is a better time for you to participate in.  You can set your word count, although they do encourage the 50,000 word goal.  The social aspects of it are summer camp themed.  I have mixed feelings about the social parts, since if I’m writing this intensely, I don’t have time to chitchat.*

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before with mixed results.  Since November is a crazy month because of holidays, conventions, birthdays, a family anniversary that can be emotionally rocky, not to mention my full time job, I always feel my odds of completing 50,000 words are iffy at best.  So this year I decided I would give the July session a whirl and use it to work on the third draft of my book, tentatively titled Black Oaks.  I set my goal for 25,000 words and dove in.

It’s gone surprisingly well.  Based on feedback I had been given at a Baycon’s Writer’s Workshop (I got a lot of helpful information from this two hour session.  Do it if you’re in the Bay Area.) I restructured and rewrote the first quarter of the book, paying attention to tone and a nasty overuse of the word “and” at the beginning of sentences.  And (see what I mean?) I tried to stick to a goal of 1000 words a day, figuring if I failed at that, I’d still be close enough to make the 25,000 goal.

I have hit a point in the editing stage I’ve heard a lot of novelists discuss, but never understood.  I am, despite reassurances to the contrary, certain that I am writing absolute crap.  But it’s my absolute crap, and I will continue slogging my way through it.  I wrote about 34,000 words of it during the month of July, and I’m motivated to continue onwards.

As for publishing my crap, I keep reminding myself that the phrase “You can’t polish a turd” has been busted.

*Except with a few friends through IM services.  And occasionally Twitter.  And an email that comes in… oh dear.  When did I get a virtual social life that’s more active than my real one?

1 Comment

  1. Some people’s socializing is exclusively on line. That is why it was so hard on me going without internet for two months.

    I had never heard of that phrase until now… and wow, it’s a myth! I am happy to hear that. 🙂

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