May Goals

How is it May already? Time to recap my goals for the last month, and set some for the new month.

My Goals for April were:

  1. Write 18,000 words. (15k on the Steampunk Novel, 3k on whatever I want) DONE! and I tried
  2. Use my NaNo style spreadsheet for any writing or editing I accomplish. DONE!
  3. Find at least two nights to sew. DONE!

I won Camp on the 25th. I had enough time to get another 3k, but I other things kept cropping up. My son’s birthday is tomorrow and things for that had to take precedence over my own writing.

I had forgotten my goal to sew at least two nights. Lucky for me I made a quilting update post in the middle of the month. I am further along on my Shoo Fly quilt which means I must have found at least one night to sew after that, and I know I did some sewing on at least one night before that.

My goals for May are:

  1. Write 8 times.
  2. Continue to use my spreadsheet.
  3. Read at least one book.
  4. Finish (100%, REALLY finish) the digger quilt.

I prefer to have a goal related to number of words rather than number of writing sessions, but I have no idea what I’m working on right now. The book is beause I haven’t been reading much. Time to get back to reading a book before bed instead of playing Sudoku. My son really wants his digger quilt, and this month is his birthday so I think he is right and it’s time to finish that thing.

Did you accomplish everything you wanted to in April? Have you set any big goals for May?

Camp NaNoWriMo vs Regular NaNoWriMo

I’ve won NaNo in November nine times. This year I won Camp NaNo for the first time. About halfway through the month I found myself thinking about the differences between the two versions of NaNo and what I liked about each one. Now that I’ve won both, I thought it was time to put some of my thoughts into somewhat readable words.

50,000 vs Pick your own
50,000 words is a lot to write in one month. I’ve gotten better at it over time, but it’s still a LOT of words. It’s the number of a words a lot of professional authors aim for in the course of a writing month. Most of us have families, jobs, friends, other commitments. Getting to pick your own word count during camp lets you have complete control. It can let you set a daily writing habit, or force you to stretch your current writing commitment. However when everyone has a different word count winning can feel a bit anticlimactic. This year I wrote 15,000 words. It was a lot for me with everything else going on in my life right now, but many people in my cabin went for higher word counts which left me feeling a little insignificant.
Winner – Tie

Cabins vs Writing Buddies
During Camp you can assign yourself a random cabin, or make a cabin with friends. This year I did a random cabin assignment. During November you can link up with friends by being Writing Buddies. Meeting new people in my writing cabin was fun, but overall the motivation was low. Roughly half my cabinmates met their goals for the month, and because I didn’t know these people I wasn’t sure how to help motivate the others. Many cabin members disappeared after a few days or weeks. With Writing Buddies you can have as many as you want, while cabins are limited to 12. In cabins you see stats for yourself, as well as you entire cabin. I found it disheartening as other members of the cabin stopped writing. My cabin is only going to reach about 75% of its total goal for the month.
Winner – Regular NaNoWriMo

What to write
Unless you want to be a rebel, the rules for NaNoWriMo are clear. You must start a new novel(la) and write for 50,000 words on that project. Camp is more flexible. You can write a collection of short stories, or write a script (script frenzy no longer exists). When it comes right down to it a lot of people bend the NaNo rules. People write on existing projects but only include the words written during NaNo, write a collection of short stories, or just count the words they write on multiple projects over the course of the month. I have always done NaNo as intended. Overall I think Camp feels a bit less ridged than Nano, possibly because you are already picking your own word count. Writing 50k on an existing project you care about is really intimidating, but getting 20k on something you care about seems easier.
Winner – Camp

Overall I enjoyed Camp. I prefer NaNo in part because it has become such an important part of my yearly writing cycle. Writing 50,000 words with a group of people who have the same goal is much more motivating for me than writing however many words I want while everyone else does the same. Isn’t that just like every other month?

Have you done NaNo or Camp? Which did you prefer?

Back on Track for Camp NaNoWriMo

campnanostatsGetting back on track this month took longer then I expected. On the 11th, when I gave my last update, I was still four days behind. I managed a double day that night, the 12th, and the 13th. I was in great shape to catch up on the 14th. Except that isn’t what happened.

I didn’t actually manage to catch up until the 16th. Not writing on the 15th certainly didn’t help, but I had other things that needed to get done. The whole point of setting a low goal this month was that I wouldn’t have to write everyday. The story is slower going than I expected though, and writing even a thousand words often takes twice as long as it usually does during NaNoWriMo. Once I get going, I sometimes manage to zoom through an extra 500 hundred words in the blink of an eye.

On the 17th I prove that point by writing triple my one day word count. That sounds amazing right? Except that I took the next two nights off. It didn’t put me behind, but it took away that great buffer of words I had. When I started writing yesterday I was on track, but needed a solid day of writing to stay there. I manage to get a day and a half of words. If I can do that again today, I’ll be happy. It would be nice to have a bit of a buffer again.

At this point I know I can win. As long as I keep hitting the keyboard, and don’t give up, I WILL win Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s exciting since it’s my first Camp win, but I feel like I’ve worked harder for it than I have my last several NaNos even though the word count is so much lower. At this point I just need to get through the words and win, so I can figure out what I’m submitting to my critique group in far too short a time.

How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going this year? Will you be joining me in crossing that finish line?

First Camp Update

The month started slowly… very slowly. I didn’t write my first word for Camp until the 6th. The plan was to write three times a week, but the first week of camp turned out to be very busy, and things didn’t pan out the way I expected. Between an anniversary, having some friends over, and other life craziness I was sinking fast.

On the 6th and 7th things were looking up. I wrote 2,500 words over those two days. I went from being 6 days behind to only 2. I had big plans to be completely caught up by the end of the weekend. Something that should have been easily obtained …

Then the weekend hit. Saturday afternoon I picked my mother up from the airport. That night I had a great night out with my critique group. We barely talked about writing, but had a great time. Well worth the missed words. Last night I had plans with the husband. I tried to write during the day, but my son was extra clingy and wanted to spend time as a family. My dreams of being caught up by last night were dashed.

I’m 2,500 words behind where I should be when I go to bed tonight. Lucky for me Monday is a writing night. I don’t plan to get caught up all in one shot, but I should be able to write 1,500 words without too much trouble as long as I log the butt in chair time. At this point I’m confident I can meet my camp nanowrimo goal by the end of the month. The faster I get caught up the better, but if I don’t fall any further behind I’ll make it.

How is your writing going this month? If you’re doing camp NaNo, are you behind?

Tracking my Writing Goals

I enjoy writing, but numbers are my first love. I’ve always been a big math fan, and I get excited when I have to spend time at work playing with spreadsheets. It should come as no surprise that I created a very cool (if I do say so myself) spreadsheet to track my writing.

I enter my total words for the day (positive or negative) as well as the novel I was working on. It colour codes the words based on preset values, tracks my words per novel and per month, and spits out one of five charts based on the options I pick. Below is my cumulative word count for the month of March via a NaNoWriMo style chart.

NaNo Style March 2016 Chart

I love that I can tell at a glance that I spent the middle of March editing. You can see a tiny increase on March 19th, then a drop on the 20th and 21st. I actually spent the 22nd and 18th editing as well, but the change in word count was so small you can’t really see it next to the larger increases on other days.

For March I worked on two different projects. The larger jumps at the end of the month were from my MG Sci Fi, everything else was from the new Steampunk novel (previously referred to as Mystery Project) I’m continuing to work on during Camp NaNo this month.

Do you track your writing progress? If you do, how do you track it?

p.s – I know it isn’t Friday, but I’m going to try a Monday/Thursday blogging schedule for a  while to see if it works better for me.

April Goals

My delayed goal post as promised 🙂

My Goals for March were:

  1. Write 3,000 words and submit it to my crit group on March 22nd. Done!
  2. Use my NaNo style spreadsheet for any writing or editing I accomplish. Done!
  3. Write twice each week. (I need to start somewhere right?) Done!
  4. Finish one of the grammar books I am working my way through. Done!

I’m very happy with my progress over March. The week before my critique was due I worked on my writing five nights in a row. That’s my best streak since November. In the end, instead of reading a grammar book I had on the go, I reviewed the one from a course I took a few years ago. It helped me remember a few things I’d forgotten, and taught me a few things I wasn’t ready to learn the first time. I earned my new running skirt and if I get my butt out for a run I might even get a chance to wear it.

My Goals for April are:

  1. Write 18,000 words. (15k on the mystery project, 3k on whatever I want)
  2. Use my NaNo style spreadsheet for any writing or editing I accomplish.
  3. Find at least two nights to sew.

I’ve gone back and forth on what my word goal for the month should be. I want to challenge myself, but I don’t want to give up my life to writing the way I do every November. I need to find the right balance. I set my Camp NaNoWriMo goal at 15k, but I would love to get some writing done on more than one project, hence the higher goal for the month.

What are your plans for April? Did you accomplish everything you set out to accomplish for March?

Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s time to go to camp. Camp NaNoWriMo that is. I’ve done NaNoWriMo in November many times with great success (2016 will be year ten!). For those who are new to NaNo I’ve written a variety of posts about it in the past. Here are a few of the most useful.

The last four of those posts are actually half of my NaNoWriMo Series. I guess I could have just linked to that instead, but a list of two didn’t seem like much of a list 🙂

This year will be my second attempt at Camp NaNo. One thing I really like about Camp is that I can set my own goal. This month I’m aiming for 15k on my Mystery Project. I decided to keep it short for a variety of reasons.

  • I don’t want writing to take over my life the way it does to get 50k in a single month.
  • I want the time and space to write on more than one project.
  • The novel I’m working on is taking more time than usual.
  • I really want to keep working on my new quilt (see point one above).

Are you doing Camp this year? Do you have any must have tips for getting through a NaNo month?

p.s – Don’t worry (I know, you weren’t) my usual monthly goal update will be posted on Monday. I promise it’s already queued up and ready to go for those sitting on the edge of their seats to see if I earned my new running skirt. Today I needed to talk about Camp instead.

Unexpected Consequences

I don’t often have reason to keep secrets. It isn’t that I can’t keep a secret, I can , but when it is something I am bubbling to share or talk about, it gets hard. This time it is also a secret I’m keeping from an unexpected group.

I started a new writing project a few weeks ago. It isn’t anything special, but because it is being sent to my critique group so quickly I decided to keep it a secret. Before now, I hadn’t considered what having my sounding boards be part of a larger critique group would mean. In this case I have a brand new story idea I am itching to share and hash out with the usual suspects of my writing group. Since I am submitting it so quickly to the critique group though I’m in a position of being able to get an opinion untainted by any previous knowledge.

It turns out there are unexpected consequences of having these two writing groups overlap. It has brought out questions I wasn’t expecting. Am I always going to want a completely fresh opinion on my work? Will I only care about having fresh opinions when it’s a brand new idea? Are there benefits to having people who know some of the background before diving into the work, while others know nothing?

In this case, no one knows anything. I’ve kept the genre, age, and type of story to myself. I haven’t told anyone about the characters, plot, or expected story arc. They are all going in blind. I guess I’ll be able to start answering some of those questions after the April meeting of the critique group.

Do you have a writing or a critique group? How do you deal with the overlap if there is any?

Camp NaNoWriMo Approaches

April is the first round of Camp NaNoWriMo for 2016. I am a long time participant in NaNo during November. This year will be my tenth year (and hopefully my tenth win). I have thought about doing Camp NaNo a few times. I even signed up last year with the intent of doing a smaller goal (around 15k I think). I didn’t get much further than signing up though. As so often happens life got in the way.

I think the main problem last year was I wanted to continue a story I’d already started. It’s a story I care about, one I’ve been chipping away at for a few years. As it turns out, I can’t write at a NaNo pace on something I care about. Not even a much smaller/slower NaNo pace. I should have realized I was going to struggle since the story I chose was one I’d been writing at a slower pace since the first few scenes.

This year I’m considering signing up for Camp NaNo in April. I have a brand new Mystery Project I’m working on and I’m not sure where it’s going. If I work on it through March, then I can continue to work on it through April. This might be especially useful as I only have the very beginning plotted out. I do well on NaNo when I don’t really know where a story is going. Sometimes I don’t even know where I want it to end. This time I have a few things I’ve figured out about the ending, but it has a lot of wiggle room. I don’t have much invested in this story, and will likely have even less once April hits and my critique group takes a run at it.

Maybe committing to work on it through April will force me to keep going even when the critique group pans it. Maybe I just need to commit to a piece of writing for a while to get over this hump. Maybe the ‘quantity not quality’ side of NaNo is exactly the kind of freedom I need right now. Maybe my eventually having a successful Camp NaNo is inevitable.

Do you plan to do either of the Camp NaNo’s this year? Have you finished Camp NaNo in the past?