Camp NaNoWriMo Redux

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should blog about this or not and came to the conclusion that…it really doesn’t matter, so I may as well. I’ll be taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again in July (aka to-freaking-morrow). I tried camp out in April and failed miserably, so miserably that I didn’t even follow up my original posts about it, but I was winging it in April and juggling a lot of balls (ha). Now, I’ve put Vacancy on hold, I have a good grasp on what it takes to produce an episode of my podcast, and I’m set on working on a completely new project that is almost entirely fleshed out which means I should be able to create some real momentum word-wise in the beginning.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to take part in camp, something about filling in that word count is equally exhilarating and depressing, but the timing worked out perfectly. I’ve had the general idea for this story for a while, but it was literally just an overarching concept. I’d played with the characters in my head, but only wrote down a couple words about it in my note app on my old phone. I started seriously plotting it on May 31st (I know because that’s when Google Docs says I created the document), and I knew I wanted to limit myself here: if I plotted for too long I knew I’d just kind of work the idea to death, and similarly I knew I wanted to plot the majority of it before I started writing so I didn’t write myself into a huge “and then what happens?” hole. I also didn’t want to write the story over a large span of time because I knew my voice would change too drastically (you can see this pretty plainly in the first four episodes of Vacancy compared to everything else), so I planned to write the whole first draft in a condensed amount of time. Season one of Vacancy just ended at the perfect time for all this to come to fruition.

I’ve also been researching writing methods recently, and I wanted to put some of the theories to the test, but with a totally new project and my most recent voice. I tend to pick up old projects because I truly love those old ideas, but I don’t want to abandon what I’ve already written, and I get stuck trying to mimic my old self. Per Stephen King:

The first draft of a book–even a long one–should take no more than three months, the length of a season.

Even without even accomplishing this, I know it’s true. Humans change a lot in a short amount of time, and even if your interests don’t wane, your environment sure does. I find it a lot easier to write happy stories in the sunshine and gloomy creepy stuff in the dark, and that’s probably pretty universal, and while you can fake your environment and you can argue that if you’re a good writer you can put yourself in whatever headspace you need to be in at the drop of a hat, that’s fine, but why force it?

But speaking of headspace…more so that cranking out words, I want to train my brain to get into the flow needed to write quality words. There’s a truth to my writing (and I bet a lot of other writers too): my fastest words are my best. That isn’t to say when I’m writing stream of consciousness, just word vomiting, race-against-the-clock type bullshit that that is my best work. No, no, that’s the warm up, the get-into-the-groove stuff. My actual best work is the work that comes quickly and needs to get out of my brain. Those are the words that feel truly inspired. And that headspace? It’s not divine, but it’s one you can train yourself to be in. At least, so they say. Those hours where you drop a couple words, google something, meticulously craft a sentence, edit it, delete it, rewrite it, then finish up a paragraph? That writing usually sucks. You might get a couple good phrases here and there or you might have a break though plot-wise, but you’re not producing much that’s worth the time put into it. So I’m going to try and train my brain into the “flow state.” And I guess we’ll see how it goes!

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