Deadlines motivate me

Camp NaNoWriMo is described as NaNoWriMo Lite… but it doesn’t have to be.

I was pleased with how much writing I got done with my Alternate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and/or being a member of the NaNoWriMo Rebels. But during the months since, I have had a hard time motivating myself to finish several of the missing or not quite finished scenes and chapters in the first draft of my novel, The Trickster Entanglement.

Then I found out my friend, Mark, was going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. I had heard of the Camp, but I hadn’t really known what it was. I thought it might actually me a physical meet-up. The organization that runs NaNoWriMo has sponsored such activities, like the Night of Writing Dangerously, so a weekend retreat or something similar didn’t seem unreasonable.

My impression was wrong. Camp NaNoWriMo, which is described as NaNoWriMo Lite is a virtual activity like regular NaNoWriMo. The difference is that you set your own word count, and all the tools for tracking your daily writing and how close you are to your goal are based on that number you have set.

Screenshot of part of my stats page.

Notice how my productivity shot up as the deadline approached.

So, I estimated that I needed to write at least 20,000 words worth of scenes to plug the holes in the book, and set that as my goal. Part of the point of Camp NaNoWriMo is also to motivate people to do things such as rewrites and edits, so you’re encouraged to state your other, non-word count related goals. Mine was to finish the tale.

According to the graph, it looks like I did almost no writing for the first half of the month, and then put my nose to the grindstone. That isn’t entirely untrue. I have known for a long time that a looming deadline sharpens my attention. One of my previous supervisors once described it this way: “You definitely get more enthusiastic the closer the deadline is.”

A screenshot

Family trees of some of the royalty, along with historical events charted out in Scapple.

But it wasn’t just that. During the first half of the month I was working on the story, I just wasn’t writing new content. They are plotholes in the current draft, and some things weren’t obviously coming together as they ought. Plus, this book is the second in a series, so there’s things I have to do to make sure book two doesn’t contradict book one, and that everything is in place for the subsequent books.

So I spent quite a bit of time using an application called Scapple to brainstorm, plot, and graph out some of the relationships and such that are involved in my multi-book storyline. The above screenshot is only one small portion of one of the three files where I did this charting. While I was doing that, I was going into the book file and making small changes here and there to existing dialogue in the previously written scenes to match the things I was discovering by charting the events out.


A scaled down version of my incomplete region map for the setting of my series of fantasy novels.

The other thing I did was work on a map. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been asked by people who have been editing the first books whether there would be a map, so I’ve started on one.

So a lot of my writing time went into those activities.

One other way the graph is misleading is that the only word counts I reported were for completely new scenes. I did a lot of revising of older scenes, particularly during the first half of the month, and that is hard to capture as a word count.

But deadlines definitely motivate me to stop equivocating and actually write. Even when there are no real consequences to the deadline. Which means that I think I need to sign up for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo as well. I’ve already promised Mom that we would be writing buddies for the full-fledged NaNoWriMo in November.

It’ll be fun and productive!


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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I used to publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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