After April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I blogged about things I learned from the experience. July’s Camp was very good for me too. The summer has been a lot crazier and more stressful than I anticipated, so I ended up only going for 10k words in July, instead of the 25k I had thought I’d attempt. That was definitely the right choice, because I barely got out my 10,000 words. But I did make it! It was a little doubtful that last week, but I ended up with a total of 10,003 words the last night.
With no time for planning beforehand, and not a lot of opportunity for writing in July, I had to make it up along the way. Among NaNoWriMoers, it’s known as pantsing, flying by the seat of your pants. As I wrote in the previous post, a lack of confidence is my biggest obstacle when it comes to writing. Couple that with perfectionism and you have a death sentence for productivity. I had to lock up my inner editor, silence my inner critic, and just write, whatever I could get out. I worked on various projects I already had going, plus started a couple of stories for a fantasy epic world I planned on eventually starting. I hadn’t really started the world building yet, but I had an idea and started. So I have a couple of characters writing first person narratives about their experiences. First person is easier than third when you have no idea what the characters are named! I didn’t want to name characters until I figured out basic language ideas for the world, and didn’t see really starting for a few years. Apparently that plan changed!
I also found some fun writing prompts in the NaNoWriMo forum that got me a lot of words too. Such as this bit of a story inspired by the first line prompt, plus a prompt including a trunk with some of the items I included:
In hindsight, taking candy from a stranger might not have been the best idea. It all started when I bumped into the fellow waiting on grandmother’s doorstep. He offered me a peppermint, just like grandmother used to give me, and I couldn’t refuse. Those eyes looked so sad, as sad as I felt. After a moment of silence together on the porch, I finally got the nerve to ask more. “So how did you say you knew grandmother?”
“Oh, we, um, worked together years ago. This was hers.” He motioned to the large trunk he was sitting on. I hadn’t noticed it before then. I just assumed he was sitting on a chair of some sort.
“What’s in it?”
He gave me a mysterious look, or at least tried to. “We best get inside before I show you that.”
After a few minutes of huffing and puffing as I tried to pull the trunk inside, I finally got the bright idea to call the butler for help. Because let’s face it, I’m not in the best shape, and the old dude wasn’t much help. “Jeeves!” He’s old too, but much more fit than either of us were at the time.
The butler appeared, quickly and silently as ever. “You called, sir?”
“Yes, could you give me a hand with this trunk? He says it’s grandmother’s and I need to check it out.”
“Certainly. However, I can’t imagine your grandmother ever owning such a distasteful piece of luggage.”
I grabbed one end of the trunk and motioned to the other. Jeeves lifted his end and we carried it into the front hall. After setting down the trunk, Jeeves brushed off his gloved hands, looked disdainfully at the trunk, and strutted off. I’ve tried to point out his strut, but he insists that he doesn’t do anything as low as strut.
I knelt down next to the trunk, and the old guy knelt next to me. I turned to him and held up my hand. “Wait. Before we go any further, I have a question for you. Uh, who are you?”
“Well okay then. Let’s get this opened.”
I turned back to the trunk and tried to pull it open, to no avail. “You don’t happen to have a key, do you?”
He held one up.
“You could have given me that earlier.” Boris was quite the interesting person. I took the key and inserted it into the lock, turning it with not a little effort. The lid creaked so badly as I wrestled it open, I was afraid it would break off before opening all the way. Once I got it stuck open, I found myself hesitant to look through the contents. I carefully pulled up some previously black fabric, which turned out to be a heavy cloak. The disturbance caused a flurry of smells to attack my nose. Dust, mold, and peppermint are not the most pleasant combination.
Wrapped up in the cloak, and I can still hardly believe it myself, I found a few sticks of dynamite. I almost dropped them in my shock, then realized just in time that dropping them would be about the worst idea possible at the time. Short of a match, of course. Which I actually found beneath the cloak, a whole box of matches, in fact. Along with an old, dirty pocket watch, that would probably be considered vintage, some costume jewelry, and an abundance of peppermints scattered throughout the trunk. What on earth was grandma up to decades ago?
That’s completely unedited so far, so don’t judge too much! Also, it’s another example of a project I started in first person from the perspective of an unnamed character. I have too many characters to name now!
So July was very good for me in letting go of my perfectionism in my writing. I think it will help me a lot long term and make it easier for me to write more. I’m already thinking ahead to November’s NaNoWriMo. For the first time, it’s not a question in my mind of if I will write a novel in a month. I fully intend to do it and believe I will. That confidence will go a long way toward me getting the novel written. It might be crazy and ridiculous, and absolutely horrible, but that’s okay! Editing can come later. That’s something I’m working on with the writing challenge this month too. I haven’t planned much for it, and I’m mostly just making it up as I go along. I’ve written down a few key words relating to some of the prompts, and I’m developing some backstory for the characters as I go, but it’s mostly just spontaneous. The hard part is restraining myself to only three sentences! Each day, I feel like four would be so much better, and of course, can think of what I want to say in four sentences. But three? It’s tough! As my husband likes to say, constraint drives creativity, so hopefully this will push me to be more creative! Follow me on Instagram or watch #writeastorychallenge if you want to keep up with the challenge.