Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 3 – A Time to Chill

Fun fact: I did not remember that A Time to Kill was a movie until I wrote the title for this post.

Was not a pun, is not a pun: I have just come to terms with the fact . . . that I really need to relax.

Week 3 was fine. In fact, Week 3 was wildly productive–I have been averaging 2000-3000 words a day for the past few days, and my protagonists are halfway through the second act of their adventure.

However . . . I have come to some super important realizations in the past few days.

Thing the First: I Am Not Going to Win
Camp NaNoWriMo 2021

I know that sounds terrible, but I am in no way saying that I’m giving up on Memory.

Seriously, I’m going to finish the novel–in part because my process works so well for me that I now find it harder not to write for the day? It’s a weird feeling, but I just naturally think of how I’ll start the next scene and then–with the same energy I used to have when opening Twitter–I just pop open my MS like, “Man, I wonder what Memory and Kole are up to?”

That said . . . I am definitely not reaching 50,000 words by the end of the month.

It’s absolutely because of those days off I took earlier in the month. Lesson learned: if I didn’t take days off and just stuck to the 1,666 daily word goal, I definitely could’ve hit 50,000. But, I did take those days off on the first two weeks, and the result was a quota that kept getting steeper and steeper.

Until today, the first day where I needed to write at least 3000 words. Which would be followed by six additional days, in a row, where I also needed to write 3000.

And, full disclosure: I tried to hit that 3000. That’s why I’m posting so late.

But I ultimately realized . . .

Thing the Second: I Don’t . . .
. . . Need to Win NaNoWriMo?

I’m laughing as I write this because, when I wrote the first version of Memory, this same thing happened.

I took days off, fell behind, “lost” NaNoWriMo 2014, and then finished the book anyway a week later.

But here we are, seven years later, and it’s going to happen again.

The important part being: yeah, just like last time, you bet your ass I’m finishing Memory regardless.

It’s just going to take an extra week or so.

And.

That’s.

Fine.

If it’s happened twice now that I just needed days off and taking them didn’t stop me from finishing a WIP, then I guess the occasional day off is just part of my process now. The same way belting out a novel in (roughly) a month after outlining it for (roughly) a year is my process, so are the days when I wake up, look at the ceiling, and just say, “No.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to accept this. I guess I got caught up in the gaminess of National Novel Writing Month. But I just don’t need to satisfy the win condition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2021. Especially because I knew from the start that Memory was going to run longer than 50,000, as I said in Week 1 post. I guess I just wanted to be able to say that I won?

But I think being able to say, “I tried to win NaNoWriMo twice with the same story and I failed both times the same exact way,” is significantly funnier and more on brand for me. It’s a story and I like those.

And also, I like being able to breathe. This whole air-in-out thing is oddly comforting.

~~~

That said, yes, I’m going to keep these posts running until I finish Memory, because I’m staying honest about it.

If you’d like to find out if it’ll take me one or two extra weeks to finish this WIP, you can give me a Follow via the button on the left sidebar on PC or the upper right drop down menu on mobile. Likes are also always appreciated as a way to gauge what posts you guys enjoy and what content I should focus on.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and if you’re struggling to do something in a way you think it needs to be done, accept that maybe it’s okay to do it the way you want to.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 2 – Oh Yeah, I Jinxed It

I’m still writing.

That’s the important thing.

But . . . man did I take a few hits this week.

Hit #1 – Saturday

I smacked right into another logistics question about a location. Basically, once again, I didn’t thoroughly plot out the floor plan for one setting. Not because I didn’t realize I should, but because Past Louis thought that Present Louis would have fun designing that setting in prose.

. . . Nope.

Dear Past Me,

Never again with that shit, please.

Seriously, any logistical worldbuilding I have to do while writing the novel absolutely destroys my flow.

I got back on track by Sunday, but spending Saturday fumbling with set design sapped an entire day’s worth of Write Energy.

Lesson learned.

Hit #2 – Tuesday

I have to set this up by admitting that, on Monday, I made the total, honest mistake of just taking a day off. That was my bad; I had a rule in week one that I’d save days off for when something really, really wasn’t working, not for leisure.

But I was exhausted from Saturday and Sunday’s bullshit, so I took Monday off.

And then Tuesday hit amazingly hard.

Not writer’s block, but pure, genuine depression stemming from my personal life.

And, of course, I am aware that personal drama can significantly influence my writing–in fact, my entire writing career is about five years behind because of how often depression dominates my time. I have experience with it–I’m almost used to it–but something that had been building all weekend hit extremely hard on Tuesday and I spent . . . about 98% of the day in bed, staring at the ceiling. If you’ve dealt with genuine depression, you know what I mean.

Here’s the good thing though: I still wrote on Tuesday. 1000 words, belted out in the remaining 2% of the day. Which is as good a test as any for my process; if I wrote on Tuesday, I can write on pretty much any day.

And that’s going to be my approach going forward: I’m upping my daily quota to 2,000 words (because I can get to 2,000 pretty easily and 1,666 isn’t going to cut it with the way I’ve wound up writing this draft) and I’m writing every day unless I am genuinely unable.

I have a lot of catching up to do, but even if I finish 50,000 words by July 31st, the stone cold truth is Memory won’t be done by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo regardless. At 18,323 words, I only just got to Chapter 6 out of 21.

That means–with some quick, terrible math–that from here, there’s roughly 50,000 left to go.

I’m going to do my best to keep at it, and hope that nothing terrible happens in the next few weeks.

And I’m also going to end this post here.

If you want to follow my progress, feel free to give this blog a Follow.

But either way, take care, and stay hydrated, especially if you’re drinking tonight–like I am.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 1 – I Can’t Believe It’s Working

Hi.

And also, seriously, I can’t believe the Promises Outline approach is working as well as it is.

If you’re new here, I’m Louis Santiago, a writer from New York who’s been trying to perfect his writing process for sixteen years. Before that, I was in the Post-Its phase of writing (all worldbuilding, no actual writing–outside of a few embarrassing short stories).

But in 2005, I started my first novel, which was extensively worldbuilt and very heavily outlined. It didn’t work; the outline was so detailed that it fell apart the moment I veered off course in prose (the terrible ripple effect of, “Well, let me alter the rest of the outline so it works with this change I just made–and now that I’ve taken 2 days to do that, let me go back to the novel and . . . what scene was I writing again??”). The end result was bad, even after a bunch of edits and a 2010 rewrite.

In 2014, I went the total opposite direction and tried discovery writing a novel. Which was a lot of fun . . . but ultimately very, very messy. I felt like I was getting somewhere, and even submitted that 2014 novel after a few edits, but after a handful of tries, I stopped, because something was still off.

Now, on July 8th, 2021, you’re joining me right at the point where I actually think I’ve figured out my process. It took listening to class sessions that a highly successful, published author posted on his YouTube (Brandon Sanderon is a saint), and a bunch of sessions with my private writing group, but I think I’ve finally got it.

And it’s such a positive, optimistic moment in my life that it’s actually scary.

The answer appears to be both pantsing and plotting. Kind of.

The pantsing part of my brain is sated by worldbuilding and (I know this is going to sound weird but) outlining; I still write detailed outlines so I can hit all of the same dopamine highs, but I also leave those outlines wide open to change.

So the plotting side of my brain can follow a roadmap of possibilities to a finished product (although I’ve discovered that part of my brain loves to just have details cleanly laid out so he can just knock out scenes).

And that is the part that I cannot believe is true, because I was so sure it would be a massive hurdle.

I thought I would get to the first scene and be like, “No. I want this to be completely different,” thus falling into the trap from my first, 2005 novel.

But, even though that has happened . . . I still managed to make the outline loose enough to totally allow for it.

As of right now, I am 11,278 words into Memory, a really heavy rewrite of my 2014 novel. And, yes, the fact that it’s a rewrite makes it easier to belt out–totally.

But whatever. Let me have the giddy disbelief that my excitement from last week’s post didn’t die 20 minutes into July 1st.

Especially considering there have been those tough moments:

On Day 2, I got crazy over-zealous and wrote two day’s worth, absolutely burning myself out for a day, which has made me hyper aware of and respectful to my internal reserves of Write Energy (it sounds less weird than “Write Juice”).

On Day 4, after a break, I struggled with a scene that had a strange flow in outline; I assumed I would be able to use some elements from the original novel, but they really didn’t fit the tone of the rewrite, so I had to make a bunch of tweaks.

Day 6, was an absolute nightmare because I didn’t clarify the location where a scene took place (to specify, not the immediate setting, but where that setting was located in a city). I spent the entire day contemplating extremely esoteric details of a scene that amounted to two pages.

I cannot believe that went through that gauntlet of momentum killers, and I’m still in it. That I have a functional process. I didn’t just give up on Day 6 and turn on video games. I didn’t convince myself I needed a week away just to come back having forgotten every last plot thread.

Sixteen years and I finally found a way to reliably write something whole–in roughly 2 years.

I am so goddamn excited for the next steps. The goal is going to be making that 2 years canon (with worldbuilding, outlining, writing, and editing).

But I’m also going to have to work out an outline for the rest of the Memory series. And then Aixa. Hand and the Tempest.

Just naming those projects made me starry-eyed.

I’m going to end this post here.

And hope that the next time I write to you, it won’t be to report that the other shoe dropped.

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2021, Feels Like Fate

I know that’s a little dramatic . . .

. . . but I just finished editing my outline. Not rushing or stressing. Just at my normal pace, I just so happened to finish editing my outline an hour before July 1st–giving me exactly enough time to write this post.

And that outline didn’t need massive changes–the finale was just good.

And the tweak I made to an earlier scene yielded a significantly better scene.

And there was a thunderstorm as I edited the last bit (and, seriously, if you don’t know, rain and thunderstorms are my ideal setting for writing because of Jurassic Park [a major inspiration for me as a baby writer]).

And a heat wave just ended–on the eve of Camp NaNo.

I don’t know if that’s the requisite amount of things to qualify for auspicious, but it sure feels like it to me.

I would have nerves . . .

. . . if I wasn’t so goddamn pumped to write this novel.

My Camp NaNo 2021 Info

My name on nanowrimo.org is “LouisSantiago.” Feel free to add me if you’ll also be toiling away on a project this July.

My project for this Camp is Memory, a rewrite of a novel I originally completed in 2014. I spent the interim seven years working on other projects, learning more about my novel-writing-process, and outlining the rewrite.

My word goal is 50,000, the lowest total you can select because, at this phase of my writing career, I am extremely concise. There is a chance I won’t write a full 50,000, but we’ll see.

My daily goal is going to be 1,666 words, which would be a bad omen but, ha ha! Fuck you, world! I was a Goth in high school! Your supposedly evil numbers mean fuck all to me! Ha ha!

My weekly total is going to be roughly 5 chapters (the outline tops off at 19), which is probably less lenient than it feels. But, hey, I will at least accept the shoulder-tension-release I’m getting from that potential wiggle room.

~~~

That said, I’m ending this post here, because my ritual lately has been waking up super early and getting to work right away, and I refuse to break that–especially tomorrow.

This will be my post for this week because I want to give Camp NaNo and Memory all of my attention. I figure for this month, I’ll switch to Thursdays, and then go back to business as usual in August.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and, please, no matter what happens, don’t let other people slow you down. I don’t mean that in a weird, lone wolf way. I just mean that if there’s anyone in your life who’s constantly telling you not to do the things you want to do, or manipulating you into second guessing yourself, fuck them. Your dreams don’t have to conform to what they want–ever. Be yourself. Live your truth.

And let’s fucking do this.