Losing July Camp NaNoWriMo

I have arrived in August, my beloved birth month, a loser. And I’m cool with that. Not only is Camp designed to be lighthearted, but it also designed to prepare you for NaNo proper (and writing in general). You learn from camp by tracking your progress and studying your behavior. Do you work better on a team or solo? Is 1600 words a reasonable daily goal? Do you write better in the AM or PM? What distracts you? What pumps you? If you reach the end of the month without reaching your goal, why?

I can tell you exactly why I lost, then come up with a plan for how you can avoid facing the same challenge:SNCover (2)

My Camp NaNo project is a historical romance entitled Sweet NOTHING, in which a plantation property battle results in an arranged marriage in 1813 South Carolina. I got a week-and-a-half head start and started Camp with over 10k words. However, as I entered the last week of July, I stopped writing almost entirely. I had arrived at the climax, and could not bridge it to the resolution. I have 5k words to my 50k word goal, and only three or four remaining scenes. I could have done that in one or two days.

But I didn’t. I became pulled in several different directions and grew overwhelmed.

In June, I sent the second book in the My Name Is Not Heather Stokes series, Two Guns, to two editors. I received feedback from both of them mid-July. Although neither of them pointed out anything major, I still wanted to see if I could revise in time to achieve my goal of releasing it on my birthday on August fifth.

Mid-July I also decided to pursue traditional representation for COLOSSUS for several reasons (that will most likely be a post of its own, although there isn’t much to say on that topic). In order to do this, I needed to create a submission packet of a cover letter, a full synopsis, and a sample.CampNaNoJuly

So toward the end of the month, I had three different projects to work on. In the end, I did not work on any of them; I ended up reading Joe Lansdale’s Two-Bear Mambo instead. Although none of my projects were finished by the end of the month, I decided not to stress. I ended up giving my brain a much-needed break, and now I can tackle the projects one at a time, on my own schedule.

These obstacles also gave me some insight in what I needed to do in order to participate in NaNoWriMo proper. Now, come November, I am going to be recovering from an out-of-state move and living in a crowded house with some good friends, so I’m not certain how much I am going to be able to participate, but this plan with definitely make participation easier should I do so:

Clear my schedule. This will take a bit of long-term planning. It means I cannot be writing or revising any projects come November. This should be easy: August will see Two Guns published and Sweet NOTHING completed. Sweet NOTHING will go into a drawer for a month; I can revise it in October (as I pack and prepare to move), as long as I do not allow that to overflow into November. All projects should be tied up and at a stopping or pausing point come November, and I will not have any looming deadlines, whether self-imposed or otherwise.

Prioritize. Querying COLOSSUS is not a time-sensitive project. I should not have gone off writing a cover letter or revising my synopsis when I could have devoted those 2k words toward finishing Sweet NOTHING. Technically Two Guns was not time-sensitive, either, although I had a goal in mind. My only time-sensitive project should be NaNoWriMo.

Update my outline as it changes. I mentioned I had trouble bridging the climax to the resolution. As the story grew and evolved, I did not keep up with all of the brilliant ideas I had in order to accommodate the changes. I reached a certain scene and hit a wall. I knew where I had to go to, but was not certain exactly how to get there. (I think the main issue was that it was a Sunday in 1813 South Carolina). This was irksome, since I am usually an excellent note-taker.

A little exercise you can commit to now would be to make a list of your projects: writing, revising, querying, what have you. Include your NaNo project on this list. (Remember: Projects should sit for about a month between rewrites/revisions.) List their priority and/or schedule them.

For example:

  • Finish revisions on Two Guns
  • Copyedit Two Guns
  • Publish Two Guns
  • Query/submit COLOSSUS
  • Write COLOSSUS screenplay
  • Revise COLOSSUS screenplay (if necessary)
  • Finish Sweet NOTHING
  • Rewrite Sweet NOTHING
  • Proofread Phoenix Rising – Salvage
  • Publish Phoenix Rising – Salvage
  • Write RUIN (NaNo project)


  • Finish everything involving Two Guns
  • Submit COLOSSUS
  • Finish Sweet NOTHING


  • Proofread and publish Salvage
  • Write COLOSSUS screenplay
  • Query COLOSSUS


  • Rewrite Sweet NOTHING
  • Query COLOSSUS


  • Write RUIN


  • Query COLOSSUS
  • Revise Sweet NOTHING
  • Revise COLOSSUS  screenplay (if necessary)

Want more?

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colossus                                     Flint Ranch


3 thoughts on “Losing July Camp NaNoWriMo

  1. I really like this approach to Camp Nano. Being able to learn what is reasonable for you to accomplish in terms of writing is one of the biggest advantages of normal Nanowrimo as well. There really is no better way to test your stamina.

    The support of the actual Nanowrimo community is also invaluable and can propel you incredibly far. Not nearly as many people come around for camp.


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