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Cabin in the Words

I did a thing! It was fun and brilliant and none of you will ever get to see it. Maybe. We’ll see.

I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo this April. I failed at it, but more importantly, I succeeded at it. It turns out, if I give myself two goals, I have a better chance of hitting at least one of them. At least when it comes to writing. Actually, I can think of some other areas where that works, too, but that’s another blog post or two.

NaNoWriMo normally gives you a goal of a novel of at least 50,000 words. (If you’re going to come into my comments with “50,000 words isn’t technically a novel, it’s a novella” or some such thing, don’t bother. My caring about that distinction is Level: I Don’t. I have a degree in English, I’ve worked in bookstores and libraries for years. I know what I”m about, kids.) Camp NaNoWriMo is less formal. You set your own goal. I went with the default 50,000 words. You can change your goal during the month. After a week, it looked doubtful that I would get to 50,000, so I changed my goal to 30,000.

I didn’t reach that goal. On the last day of the month, I was about 9,000 words short. On a work day. I don’t think I could write 9,000 words on a non-work day. Unless I just typed 9,000 random words, which I didn’t want to do because this time around, I wasn’t writing Dada. Sticking with pretty straightforwardish fiction.

So I didn’t win in that sense. 9,000 words short of my target. Oh well. But my other goal was to write every single day. That’s something I’ve never done. Even doing NaNoWriMo in the past, I’ve skipped days, then played catch-up on other days. And it’s worked, I’ve hit the goal, which is great. Something else that feels great: writing every day. To make my goal, I needed to write 1,000 words a day on average. I gave myself a rule that I had to write at least 500 words every day. There were a few days when I just didn’t have the energy and only wrote around 125 words. Other days, I didn’t feel like I had anything in me to write, but I made myself sit down and write anyway, and then I would look up, do a word count, and find I’d written 500-plus words and I still wanted to keep writing. I averaged about 700 words a day, which I think isn’t bad while also working a full-time job, having a social life, and keeping up with the TV shows I watch.

Funny thing, I’ve discovered I quite like first draft writing. It’s not good writing, but there are little gemstones that shine amongst the just-get-the-story-told writing. There are massive plot holes, and thin, uneven characterization, and dialogue that desperately wants to be funny and only kinda-sorta is chuckleworthy. But there’s effort there, and it’s honest and earnest. It’s a skeleton of a story, but it’s a cute skeleton with glitter and feathers glued to it.

I wrote fanfic. Self-insert fanfic. Utterly self-indulgent fankwank self-insert fanfic. Unless you’re a member of my ride-or-die inner circle, you will almost certainly never see a word of it. If I say that as first draft writing goes, it’s actually not too bad, you’ll just have to take my word for it. But as I wrote about in my earlier post, I enjoyed the act of writing, the process, and doing it every day felt…

Oh yeah, in that post, I also talked about meditation, something else I’ve tried to do daily and not always succeeded at. Well, today was the 30th day in a row that I’ve meditated at least once, sometimes twice. That’s a new record for me, and I’m going to try to keep that chain going.

Success and failure at the same thing, at the same time. Sounds about right.

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