Camp NaNoWriMo aka The Summer of Writing Dangerously

Hi all! I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted (oops, over a year!), but I promise I’ve been amazingly busy. In addition to finally publishing Into the Sky, I have also completed work on the second book of the Five Stones Pentalogy: A Bright and Distant Star. Currently, it’s chilling out with my amazing editor, Jen Blood, and should be ready to go by November 2016. Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on Book 3, and have joined Camp NaNoWriMo to keep the energy flowing.

What is Camp NaNoWriMo, you ask?

That’s a very good question. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is technically in November. As Thanksgiving nears, a bunch of us crazy writers across the globe all get together to each write 50,000 words (aka a novel, although mine clock in at closer to 90,000) in 30 days or less. The Camp version is more or less the same thing, only in April and July instead.

Erica and Taj Rif
Little me at summer horseback riding camp. That helmet was bigger than my head!

I found NaNo immensely helpful to me when I was writing my first novel. Not only did the constant word count hold me accountable for my writing, it also led me to my brilliant beta reader who I’ve been with for two years now. Working with a group of people doing the same activity – especially when that activity can be lonely, as writing so often is – makes the process flow more smoothly. I get excited seeing others’ word counts. I’m determined to catch and beat them to the goal line! And once I’ve hit that magical 50,000 words, somehow the rest of the novel doesn’t seem so difficult.

Right now, I’m only in the very beginning of the month, and while the chapters are flowing, the lack of an outline for this one means that every day I have to ask myself, how do I get where I’m going? It’s like walking around the city without a GPS. At every corner, I have to ask someone, “Where do I go from here?”

But while I’m normally a plotter (someone who outlines meticulously) and not a pantser (someone who flies by the seat of her pants), I’m actually finding the process refreshing. I’m learning new details about my characters. And instead of babying them by planning ahead for their every action, I’m putting them in situations and letting them think for themselves. The result has been eye-opening.


Challenge of the Day: Think about your memories of the past week. Put your characters into a situation you encountered, and see what they do. Don’t plan, don’t outline, just write.