A Little Writing Update – Camp NaNo, A Competition and a Writing Challenge

One of the things I always try to do – but often fail at 😉 – is push myself beyond the limits of my comfort zone. And recently that has meant I have been trying to engage with any writing opportunities that I stumble across.

Since the beginning of July this has manifested itself in three different writing projects, with the three different goals.

Camp NaNo – July 2022

So you may remember how, for once, I was ahead of the planning game for July’s Camp (you can read about that here). You may also remember that things were a little up and down for the first two weeks of the challenge (you can read about that here). Well, I can now confirm that things continued in the same fashion for the rest of the month.

I went for another 10 days without adding a single word to the project, then added just over 1500 words (cumulative) over the next three days, and then nothing else. I ended July with 7466 words added to the project. Half of my goal.

However, I can’t be sad with that. My attempt at April’s camp this year was woeful and along with the new words added to the WIP, I also got a huge amount of world building, back story and planning complete. It’s not the win I was hoping for, but it is still a win. And, this was achieved alongside…

Submitting to a Competition

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

Part way through July, I stumbled across a UK literary agency (one of the biggest, in fact!) holding a commercial fiction / women’s fiction novel competition. Now, I don’t really enter competitions, submit to literary agents (it has been years since I had a go that!), or write commercial fiction very often. But what I do have is an historical romance novel that I am in the process of finding a home for.

When I saw how wide the scope was in terms of what they were looking for, I thought why not try, after all the worst that could happen is that they don’t like it, and the response time was nice and short (I think it was 3 weeks).

So I gave the story another edit (I can never send submissions out without going through them again, even though they are complete), and submitted it. I didn’t make the shortlist but I’m happy I tried. Usually I would have made some excuse to justify not bothering, but not this time, which is a win in itself.

And, whilst I was waiting to hear of the outcome for this story, I then saw an advert on Wattpad for this year’s Watty Awards…

A Writing Challenge

I think next time I sit down to write, I’m going to imagine I’m here…
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

I was late in deciding to enter the Watty’s this year. Very late. Unlike other years I’ve entered, the submission window appeared very short, but I like a challenge. And a challenge this was. I wrote a 52,000 word novel in about two weeks. Actually it was probably closer to 12 or 13 writing days, and as you can imagine, some of those days were long.

In the few days running up to the closing date, I was spending 12 hours in front of the computer, and on the last day it was about 17 hours. On that last day, I was still writing the story, and trying to edit and upload the book, chapter by chapter, to the website.

The deadline for submission was Friday 19th August, and I can honestly admit, if I hadn’t been in a different time zone, I would not have made it. As it was, it was 2 AM my time, when I got the form accompanying my entry submitted. (For those interested, it is called The City of Fallen Dreams and I entered it into the wild card category because it has a little bit of everything in it).

Am I happy I did it? You bet I am. In the past I would have said the deadline was too tight, there’s no way I could have made it, and I would have just given up. Not this time. I pushed and pushed and pushed, right to the very end and I got it in before the deadline. Miraculously.

Would I do it again? Nope. No way. This whole experience is what I would describe as endurance writing. It felt like (how I imagine) a marathon to be. And I’m not that kind of writer.

One of the upsides to this style of writing was that I was completely immersed in this story almost continuously from the beginning to the end of it, and that was a really enjoyable experience.

Click to read…it’s free

The shortlist is announced sometime in October. Naturally, I have my fingers crossed, but I don’t expect to be on it. Why? Because for me, this was about pushing myself. This was about setting an almost impossible challenge and being able to actually meet it.

It’s taken me a week to recover from these crazy 6 or 7 weeks of challenging myself, and I’m still going to take it easy for a few more days yet. But it has got me thinking of what challenges I want to set myself next.

Do you set yourself writing challenges or writing goals? Or maybe you find they hinder your writing more than help it? Let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts on this…

Camp NaNo Update – Two Weeks In

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

So, I sort of went a bit quiet on the Camp NaNoWriMo front after declaring I had weeks to plan and prepare for it…

And I did plan…

And I did prepare…

And on the 1st of July I decided to work on a different project. Sigh. That’s just how my brain works sometimes…

The project I’m working on is not a new one, and you will probably have heard me talking of it, if you’ve been following me here or over on Wattpad for the last few years. It’s my Oath Sworn Trilogy, the first book of which is Oathbreaker. However, since I finished that first draft (back in 2018!), the project has grown exponentially to encompass not one trilogy, but two running side-by-side, as well as three standalone novels and two novellas!

So I set my daily target at the low end, knowing that, should I not be able to write everyday, the total target for the month should still be achievable. So 500 words a day, for a total of 15,500 words by the end of the month. So far so good: project picked and goal set.

On the first day, I managed to exceed my daily target. Woohoo! Then, for the next 12 days, I couldn’t find the time to write one. single. word. on my project.

Come Day 13, I was determined to fix that, and so I put my To Do list where I wouldn’t see it, sat down at my desk and gave myself permission to write, as if nothing else mattered (nothing important, at any rate!).

And my! It was glorious! And thankfully I managed to carry that same enthusiasm to make the time, and the momentum to make that time count, into Day 14. I’m now just shy of being a third into my goal. Hopefully it will continue into the second half of the month…

If you’re doing July’s Camp NaNo, how are you fairing?

NaNoWriMo 2018

To NaNo or not to NaNo…that is the question…for today’s post…

Questions about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) always hit me with bouts of indecision at this time of year.  And it’s usually the same two questions: 1) Should I participate? and, 2) If I do, what should I focus on?

This year, these two questions are giving me a lot to think about, though I hasten to add, the first question has always been answered in the past with a “yes”.  That being said, I’m going to bore you anyway with this year’s deliberations…

Today’s random photos are all inspired by the element of water…

Should I Participate in NaNoWriMo 2018?

As I’ve already mentioned, in the past I have always answered this question with a “yes”.  I’ve joined in the yearly writing challenge for the last six years and learned a lot about how I write and what works for me.  Last year’s lesson was tailored writing sprints, but I digress.

This year, I’m suffering from exhaustion.  It’s been an issue I’ve had all year long, but instead of resting like any sane person would, I pushed myself harder in an attempt to work through it / ignore it.  I’ve now got to the point where that is no longer an option, and I’ve started to close down many of the projects I’ve been working on to create the time and space I need to recuperate.  This in itself, would be a sensible reason not to do NaNo this year.

However, even if everything stopped tomorrow, I would still be writing.  I, like most writers, write every single day.  So whether or not I sign up to NaNo, I will be writing.

NaNo has become an important part of my writing year, and I think I would be quite disappointed if I skipped it, even once.  This means I think I will be participating again this year, unless I find closer to November 1st, I’m really not up to it.  For now, I’m full of positive thoughts – always look on the bright side of life, and all that…so to the next question…

What should I focus on for NaNoWriMo 2018?

This is the question that stumps me every year; I think hard about it for two weeks, pick a project, plan it for a week and then change my mind the following week, only to pick something else on the 1st November. I’m so very indecisive.  I have so many ideas for stories that I want to write them all right now. But, I hope to avoid these shenanigans this year with a little prep and planning.  Whatever I pick, I’m going to stick with it, because an over-active, over-anxious mind equals exhaustion.

Last month I completed my latest novel, Oathbreaker (if you didn’t already know!).  75,000 words over 38 writing days produced the best first draft I have ever written.  It helped, I think, that I completed it from start to finish – hell, it helped that I actually completed it at all.  I have dozens of novels on my computer, in various stages, but only a handful can be described as complete – and it’s not just novels, but novellas and short stories too!

Anyway, back to Oathbreaker.  When I sat down and started writing it, it was supposed to be a standalone short novel, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that was never going to happen.  Now it’s a novel trilogy, and I’ve already had people interested enough in it to ask when will they be able to start reading book 2!  Not a bad result from a first draft!

It makes sense then that my next project should be book 2.  The problem is, I’m just about to make a start on it but NaNo doesn’t begin for another 27 days.  My project could be the Oathbreaker trilogy; I start book 2 now and finish what’s left of it in November, and should I need more words, I could start book 3.

But there is part of me that says pick a different project for NaNo and let Oathbreaker take care of itself (book 1 will also need editing at some point…).  Surely it will be simpler that way.  So what else could I work on for NaNo?  Earlier in the year I was working on two unfinished novels.  They each need 20-30,000 words to complete the first draft.  There are also a load of half-finished short stories awaiting some attention.

So I guess my options are:

  • 50,000 words on the Oathbreaker trilogy
  • 50,000 words split between the Oathbreaker trilogy and a few smaller writing projects
  • 50,000 words split between unfinished novels
  • 50,000 words split between unfinished novels and short writing projects
  • Or start a  completely new project

It looks like I’ve got a lot to think about.

Wow.  That was a long post.  If you’re still reading, I’m both surprised and thankful 🙂

So what are your thoughts?  Any wise words or suggestions to impart to this indecisive writer?  Are you joining in with NaNo this year?  Do you know what you are focusing on?  Let me know in the comments.

And, should you wish to add me as a NaNo writing buddy, you can find me over on the NaNoWriMo website by searching “Sammi Cox”…