Last post, I said I’d be trying out Camp NaNo and putting my list of assumptions to the test.
And I have. Success! Well, mostly.
It’s now Day 17, aka ‘the day I remembered I was supposed to be blogging as I went.’
On the bright side, the Camp NaNo site provides a helpful bar chart of my daily progress, so I have a day-by-day run-down to make up for my dubious memory.
What it tells me so far is that Camp NaNo is working — I hit 10,000 words on Day 10, five days ahead of schedule, and have spent the majority of Camp at least a couple of days ahead. I’m currently sitting at just over 11,000 words, having not yet written today.
Hold up — 11,000 words on Day 17? Shouldn’t I be seven days ahead of where I was on Day 10?
Yes. Yes I should. Which nicely highlights the second thing my bar chart is telling me — Camp NaNo is not entirely working. Let me explain.
Thanks to my mile-wide competitive streak, I wrote more than double my word goal on the first day of Camp. On a productivity kick, and addicted to the power rush that came with realising I had the highest word count in my cabin, I then spent the rest of the week in vicious competition with myself and my cabin mates.
(I’ll talk more on my cabin experience later, but it’s worth noting that this is a wholly one-sided competition, which consists entirely of me silently stalking their word counts and rubbing my hands gleefully, like some kind of word count goblin).
More than once I hit the NaNo-recommended 1,667 words, and felt briefly like a writing deity. By Day 6 I had hit my goal for Day 10, and was feeling reasonably pleased with my progress thus far. I am an unstoppable writing machine, I decided; and so when the very next day I found myself bedridden with a virus, I thought little of taking the day off to recover.
*Distant sounds of blocks starting to tumble.*
Day 8 brought with it a rush of guilt, and a further 1,000+ words. Okay, not too bad. Day 8 was a justifiable blip on my otherwise illustrious Camp experience. Back on track to finish on April 23rd.
On Day 9, it happened again.
This is when I began to realise the critical flaw in my low word-count goal: by getting ahead, I had created a buffer. Even on days when I did no writing, I was still two days ahead of my goal. I figured that as long as I kept my bar from actually touching the average goal line, I was still ahead, and my non-writing days were an acceptable loss.
I talked briefly in my earlier post about the importance of self-motivation and holding myself accountable. What I failed to say was that these areas are Works In Progress.
Clearly, they’re areas for improvement. On Day 10 I started a new job, and didn’t write again until Day 15. Fortunately, I was by that point far enough ahead that I still wasn’t in too much danger of touching the line. I quickly tapped up to 11,000 words, and I’ve been sitting there ever since.
For the first time, I am in a position where I have to write in order to avoid falling below my average target line. I’m only 300 words off, so my goal is to tap up to somewhere approaching 12,000 and start to rebuild that comforting buffer. The thing is, I’m no longer sure that’s a good thing. Being ahead of my goal gave me space to relax, which kind of negated the ‘daily target pressure’ which had been working so well until then. And it had been working — writing so often this month has led to some huge productivity leaps as far as my main project is concerned, and I now have 11,000 words I definitely wouldn’t have had were it not for this Camp. I’ve also made progress on some other projects: on the days when I haven’t written words for my Camp NaNo story, I have nonetheless worked on other WIPs. I just don’t feel I can count the words, since they’re not part of my document ‘total’.
I’ve also made a lot of planning progress. I am a huge planner, and I’ve recently downloaded Scrivener (which I may blog about at a later stage), which I’ve been using to completely overhaul my outline and restructure my project. None of which would have happened had I not had to sit down and write the damn thing.
So far, then, Camp has been far from a flop. I’ve gotten some good words written and some solid planning done as a result, and I’ve felt more motivated to work on other projects, whose words I’m not counting towards my final Camp NaNo tally. With some extra effort and a renewed mindset, I’m feeling confident about my ability to hit 20,000. (For extra motivation, I’ve also decided that if I win, I’m allowed to purchase Scrivener after my free trial expires. (Using my 50% off Winner Voucher… #motivation).)
Here’s to tentative optimism!
(It’s not too late to join me! Link below:)
Camp NaNo homepage: https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in
My Last Post: Camp NaNo: Better Than NanoWriMo?