It’s that time again. July is Camp NaNoWriMo, round 2 of the year 2016. I continue to feel the need for this kind of support to stay motivated to keep writing. With the onset of summer, I itch to play in the flower beds we so carefully planned and planted, or finally to clear the clutter from that room (all of them), especially when the temperatures lose temperance.
It helps to have a sense of permission to write, as well as a dedicated space–real and virtual–for writing since it’s not part of my daily routine and makes no income for me otherwise.
To reinforce that positive energy, I’ll be hosting a weekly write-in at a cafe for my local NaNo area for the month of July. I see my primary role as offering support for my immediate writing community, and that does include me. Currently, the project I will work on remains unknown to me.
I didn’t get very far with my April novel writing, after feeling so great about the elaborate planning I managed to complete for the plot. Previously posted was my piece about being “Ready to Start” as the month was coming to a close, so maybe I should continue working on that novel, “start” on it again.
Often, I feel as if “real writers” don’t have this problem of what to write about, or even what basic form to write in–prose, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, journal, essay, etc.
Traditionally, I gravitated toward periodicals and books about the writing life in general, but given how little of my collection I’ve actually read or acted upon, I’m less inclined to add to the collection these days.
My dusty library includes classic guides such as On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write, as well as Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, and many others including a variety of Writer’s Digest books and magazine issues on writing and publishing, collected from having worked at the parent company of the WD imprint.
I have significant experience with writing papers for college and graduate school, tutoring writing, and doing editing and proofreading, but that’s not really being a writer.
On the flip side, I don’t consider simply being a published author as being a writer, either. Celebrities, politicians, and businesspeople may employ ghost writers to create their books. I recently took a stab at ghost writing, but that didn’t work out. If there is a dearth of ideas in my own mind of what to write about, my motivation to convey someone else’s message dips below even that level.
There’s been this long-standing pressure, inside and out, for me to seat myself firmly in the writing field and declare myself a writer. More and more, though, I’m sensing that it’s not my primary career identifier. I tend to enjoy learning, research, and teaching, as well as the performing arts, more than either reading or writing novels. Even my poetry doesn’t come urgently forth on a regular basis, though it seems to be my default setting among forms.
Whatever emerges as my Camp focus, the first step for me is brainstorming. I need to pack a case full of ideas to take with me to Camp. Why not use my blog as the duffel bag?
First, though, the physical materials to support Camp participation:
- laptop with all writing files and Internet access
- laptop cable and power strip
- noveling materials from last Camp–notes, drafts, outline, reference sheets
- notebook(s) and various writing utensils
- tab of my blog open in browser
- book/websites of creative writing prompts, inspirational images, writing starters
- tab open of my cabin at campnanowrimo.org to communicate with cabin mates online
- stopwatch (online or on phone) to do word sprints
- fellow writers, supplied
- refreshments (i.e., coffee), brought and available for purchase
- miniature, rubber ninja figurine supplied by our Municipal Liaison during November’s NaNoWriMo as a talisman to boost our writing mojo
Ideas Packed for a Productive, Enjoyable Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2016:
- novel started in April – contemporary realistic fiction set in a high school about a teacher and her experiences with bullying
- alternative version of the bullying novel: revenge fantasy a la Inglorious Basterds
- revamp WordPress blog and plan new content
- continue revising, compiling, and writing poems for a first published collection
- travel writing essay about planning for vacation
- Outlander fan fiction or spin-off using a minor character as the main character
- Outlander season 2 overall review, or series of reviews, on my blog
- develop business plan and materials for in-person tutoring writing clients
- revisit and finish the story for my first novel, attempted in 2011, my favorite so far, about a traumatized ranching family, wolves, and Native American mythologies in Montana, Idaho and Yellowstone
- revisit and develop my 2nd favorite novel from 2013, about Shakespeare’s mistress and her playwright ambitions
- revisit and develop my 2014 tragic novel about a delusional history professor with financial problems
- probe my anxiety dreams for fantastical adventures and horror stories
- set a non-writing goal of learning a new skill, organizational system, research method, or other process for fun or practical application
- make the month an artistic month of coloring, drawing, rap and song writing, crafting, and generally unfettered creative impulses
- follow the same approach as done in April by selecting an aspect of writing to learn about and practice in depth, such as new or less practiced poetry forms (haiku, villanelle, sestina, parody) or subjects, viewpoint experimentation in fiction, short story writing, or truly free free writing
- write whatever comes to mind for a certain amount of time every single day, with no expectations or requirements for specific application to a story or other writing form–just produce, produce, produce raw material for later mining
- play or screen writing
- political, persuasive essays about this ridiculous election cycle, or just satire of it
- novel ideas and plot synopses, one after another
- use the month to repeat The Artist’s Way program or try a new and different creativity-boosting program
And maybe eventually I won’t need a special event like Camp NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month in November to devote the time, thought, and effort to supply myself with the necessary tools for perpetual writing. Only with consistently dedicated time and space, and the steady dual work of reading and writing, can we improve our craft and make something worth writing and reading.
Based on reading my blog posts, do you have any suggestions for my Camp NaNo focus? Feel free to add them in the comments.