Battling the Mid-Month Boogie Monsters

midmonthIt never fails. Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNo or simply your own timed writing challenge, the middle is always the hardest part. If this is your first Camp NaNoWriMo, you may have heard the campfire stories of mid-month boogie monsters that capture your plot bunnies, steal your enthusiasm, and sneak up on you just when you thought things were going well. They’re frustrating but, believe us, they can be beaten!

It’s common to feel discouraged when you’re halfway through these challenges; the excitement of a new project has worn off in the past 15 days, yet the end is still another 15 away. Suddenly, you find yourself feeling more lost than anything. That’s okay, and that’s normal! Maybe your story isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, or maybe it’s going great—so great that you’ve run with it and written yourself into uncharted territory. Whatever your reasons are, you likely aren’t feeling as confident about this as you did on April 1st. But I’m here to tell you to toss another log in that fire and scare those shadows away.

There are several ways to get yourself back on track and finish strong. Try these methods out and see if they work for you!

  1. Just push through it. This is the tough love approach and I know it isn’t easy. Take it from me—we’re halfway through and I’ve only written a few hundred words! But sometimes all your writing needs is a little teeth-gritting determination. When those monsters of the night threaten to scare away your inspiration, scare them right back by holding your ground! Some ways this has worked for me include fleshing out whatever scene I’m on—even if it’s totally unnecessary to do so—or skipping to another part of the story that I’m eager to write. Both methods get the words flowing and keep you from cowering behind that blinking cursor.
  2. Attend the virtual Camp NaNoWriMo Write-In tomorrow. Hosted on the NaNoWriMo YouTube account, virtual write-ins provide an opportunity to grab some inspiration, motivation, and support without leaving your writing cave—or tent! The next one is tomorrow at 11am PDT, so translate that to your time zone and join in!
  3. Schedule your own write-in! I’ve spoken before about the benefit of write-ins and, while organized write-ins are more common during November, there’s always an opportunity to host your own. Start a #SprintParty on Twitter, host one on a YouTube channel, or simply invite some writing buddies out for a few competitive sprints over coffee! If you’re anything like us, your hunger for word count glory will override that mid-month writer’s block under pressure, and you’ll soon find yourself writing away toward your word count goal.
  4. Reach out on Twitter/cabin mates. I have a confession: I almost quit two thirds of the way through NaNoWriMo this year. I was hitting that block somewhere in the third week and was falling behind, and I wanted to give myself permission to quit if I didn’t think winning was feasible. Thankfully, my friends weren’t going to let that happen! Taylor and Skye gave me some really great pep talks and even rallied what seemed like half of Twitter to shout all kinds of encouraging (and playfully threatening!) things at me. If you need similar motivation, simply announcing your struggles via a popular hashtag (like #CampNaNoWriMo or #AmWriting)  is guaranteed to earn you a few encouraging words.
  5. Start from zero. Of course, I don’t mean start your project from scratch! But as I said in my post on starting from zero, sometimes it can be helpful to take a step back, take stock, and reorganize your project. This is especially helpful if you’re written yourself into a road block: instead of trying to push through it if it doesn’t seem to be giving, map out your story on a sheet of paper and figure out where you’ve been, where you’re stuck, and where you have to go. Even if you aren’t the outlining type, simply reminding yourself of your ultimate goal with that particular story can be incredibly helpful!

How do you power through that rough midpoint? Everyone has a different process, from NaNoNewbies to seasoned wordsmiths. Let us know how you battle those mid-month boogie monsters in the comments below!

Guest Post: Virtual Writers, Inc. – Finding Inspiration from Virtual Life

Every writer goes through a dry spell at some point in their career, and we each have our own way of dealing with it. Some writers hole up for the duration; cover themselves in a comforter and hibernate. Others ignore the block and continue writing, knowing the rains will eventually come if they push through it…and perform the odd rain dance, or two.

I’ve discovered that my block disappears when I meet new people and visit interesting places. I often find something in that place that sparks an emotion; maybe a memory or a sense of wonder, which in turn spills out on the page. In Second Life® there are inspiring places aplenty: fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi and steampunk themed sims, to name but a few. If you’re stuck for an idea, why not visit some of these creative installations, you’ll be surprised at the wealth of inspiration.

Second Life® is a 3D virtual community developed by Linden Lab. Users create an avatar, move, communicate and socialise using mouse and keyboard controls. Many individuals are able to gain experiences that they’d likely find impossible in real life. I suffer with chronic illness and disability, and isolation is always nipping at my heels. Agoraphobics can meet with others at a virtual cafe, multiple sclerosis sufferers can climb mountains, and the homebound writer (whether through health reasons or personal circumstances) can meet with other writers, publishers and agents (of which there are many in Second Life®) all from the comfort of an armchair.

The Community’s Early Beginnings

I collaborated with other writers as soon as I joined Second Life® in 2007, and our writing group grew organically. Members met once a week, in a windswept coastal cottage, to share their work and chat. It was then that I realised writers crave community, and not only those isolated by disability. Soon, the retreat became too small for the group, and so a sim on a Scottish estate was purchased, and a talented real life designer was hired to help create the place that was destined to become Milk Wood.

The Community Today

Now, 7 years on – and with a fully redesigned literary haven – we have a smorgasbord of literary events devised not only to develop intrinsic ability and build confidence, but to help promote both established and emerging writers. Members enjoy events such as short story workshops, talks on building a following and book promotion, open mics, book readings, virtual meet and greets, poetry readings and daily writing challenges. With a friendly and inclusive environment and an experienced team of writers to host events and offer encouragement, you won’t fail to feel at home.

A great many of our members have gone on to find publishing success. Time and time again we’ve heard that it was the community spirit and the daily writing exercises that helped them achieve their goal, not to mention the wealth of workshops and knowledge shared by other successful writers.

Virtual Writers has come a long way from its early days with 5 members sitting around a virtual kitchen table. Now with over 1,500 active members in Second Life®, 30,000+ social media followers, and a dedicated website, forum and blog, we’ve expanded beyond virtual worlds and social media into real life, with plans to create regional writing groups around the UK, and a bi-annual literary journal. We maintain our goal of creating community and promoting the writer and his spark of genius – we’re also quite good at helping fend off the odd spell of writer’s block.

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Virtual Writers, Inc.ABOUT VIRTUAL WRITERS

Virtual Writers is a popular online writers’ community committed to showcasing established and emerging writers in a range of interactive and immersive environments. We learn to experiment with digital, social and virtual world platforms to push the creative envelope and develop a strong, unique voice.

We host online writing events, workshops and interactive readings; presenting a wealth of opportunities for writers to meet and share resources.

If you want to become involved in an active online writing community, then visit us on Second Life® & our social media channels (TwitterFacebookGoogle+ & Goodreads), and get interactive.

Other Social Links: Website | Blog Forum | Events | Author Essentials

Sprint Watch! Where to Word Sprint this Camp NaNoWriMo

The halfway point of Camp NaNoWriMo approaches! Whether you’re on track, storming ahead or playing catch-up, there’s one thing that can give your word count a super-boost. Yep, you guessed it: the word sprint. There are so many of them going down this month that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Here’s a recap of the various word sprinting events scheduled on Twitter this Camp NaNoWriMo. Some are planned, others spontaneous. Some are long, some are short. Some are recurring, while others are one-offs. Take your pick, write up a storm and, most importantly, enjoy yourself!


PLANNED SPRINTS

These events have been planned in advance, with their start and stop times predetermined. Some are one-off events, just for Camp, and others happen all year round. See if any take your fancy and let us know if you’re going to take part!

Camp NaNoWriMo and the #NaNoThon

What: Prepare yourself for an epic 8-hour writing marathon, courtesy of NaNoWriMo. Those word counts don’t stand a chance.

Where: Follow the #NaNoThon hashtag on Twitter for word sprint start and stop times and to report your word counts!

When: Saturday, April 12, from:

United Kingdom: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
US East Coast: 12 noon to 8 p.m.
US West Coast: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sprint Shack and the #TalesAndTea Party

What: You are cordially invited to our weekly word party, where we drink cup upon cup of delicious beverages (tea, coffee, the purest water from an enchanted spring—take your pick), eat scrumptious treats, and write many, many words. Sprints last for 20 minutes, with 10 minute breaks in between.

Where: Hosted by @TheSprintShack, you can follow the word sprint start and stop times and report your word counts using the #TalesAndTea hashtag.

When: Saturdays, all year round, from:

United Kingdom: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
US East Coast: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
US West Coast: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Friday Night Writes and #WriteClub

What: Every week, the doors to #WriteClub open, the writers of the world flood in, and the words flow out. Sprints last for 30 minutes, with 10 minute breaks in between, and run for a whopping (almost) 24 hours!

Where: Stay up-to-date with all the #WriteClub action using this hashtag and follow the host, @FriNightWrites, for sprint start and stop times.

When: Fridays, all year round, from:

United Kingdom: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.
US East Coast: 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.
US West Coast: 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Remember: you don’t have to take part in the full length of the word sprinting events (e.g. if you join in #WriteClub, you don’t have to write for nearly 24 hours). Dip in and out as time and life allows!


SPONTANEOUS SPRINTS

These sprints are often spur of the moment, unplanned events. The start and stop times are announced by the host a short while in advance, so keep an eye out for them by searching for ongoing sprints using the popular sprinting hashtags listed on the Sprinting Resources page and following the frequent sprint-meisters listed below.

@TheSprintShack
@NaNoWordSprints
@GetWordies
@NaNoPals

For more word sprinters, check out the Notable Sprinters page, and let us know if you spot any other frequent sprint hosts or events on Twitter! We’d love to add them to our list.

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Will you be taking part in any of these events, or hosting your own this Camp NaNoWriMo?

New Book Alert! Taylor Eaton’s “The Suicide of the Moon”!

We have some exciting news! Our own co-founder, Taylor Eaton, has just launched her first collection of micro fiction. Titled “The Suicide of the Moon”, it’s now available as an ebook at Amazon (with Kobo and Nook versions on the way)!

The Suicide of the Moon: A collection of flash fiction stories by Taylor Eaton

Right now, “The Suicide of the Moon” is available for $0.99 (but in less than a week the price will go up, so grab it now)!

Taylor has been writing flash fiction/micro fiction (super short stories) for a while over at her blog, Little Write Lies, but this is her first book. The twelve stories in “The Suicide of the Moon” are all centered around the moon, portraying it as beautiful and sad at some times, yet capricious and curious at others. The stories range in genre (fantasy, sci-fi, literary) and voice.

Fun fact: Taylor actually wrote the majority of these stories during our word sprints on Twitter!

Still not sold? Some early reviews for “Suicide of the Moon” have called it: “an outstanding work of art” and “simply amazing.” Plus, the stories are short – perfect for reading during a commute to work (or when taking a small break from your Camp NaNoWriMo writings)!

Go get “The Suicide of the Moon” now and start reading! Click here!

And don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Oh, and make sure to sign up for Taylor’s Little Write Lies newsletter if you want some free bonus moon stories!

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Cristina’s thoughts:

I love love love this collection. I read it back when Taylor needed a few betas, and now that it’s finally released, I can’t wait to read through the final version! Her hard work through all of this is really apparent in her tight prose and beautifully crafted stories. Whether you need a collection of stories to read sporadically in your free time or a quick read to devour in one sitting, “The Suicide of the Moon” is entertaining, thought-provoking, and just downright awesome.

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Tell us what you think of “The Suicide of the Moon” in the comments below!

To Edit, or Not To Edit…During Camp NaNoWriMo

Hey all you WriMo’s! How’s the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo been treating you? How are your word counts looking? Steadily inching toward your goals?

Well, I have a small confession to make…my word count is at a heartbreaking ZERO.  Yeah, it’s pretty bad. We’re what? 5 days in now? This time in November I think I was already nearly 10k words deep.

But it’s not all horrible. I promise I’ve been productive. Even if I haven’t been writing my intended Camp NaNo project, I have been working on another project. But just not writing…more along the lines of editing.

Yeah, it might be fudging the rules of Camp NaNo a bit much, but since I’ve been working on releasing my ebook next week, I had a flurry of last minute editing sessions. In total, I think I edited through nearly 30,000 words (what with all the re-reads) in the last three or four days.

Now, I’m definitely going to get to work on actually writing later this month during NaNo, but the real question is: can I count some of my editing toward my word goal this April?

I know I’m not the only one doing something like this. Many people enjoy using the energy and excitement of NaNoWriMo to get more non-traditional projects completed. So while many people are scribbling away, there are quite a few of us who are frantically deleting and slashing words from our manuscripts.

But that brings up another question: HOW do I count my editing toward my NaNo goal?

There are various ways of doing this, so lets take a look at some options we have here:

- Keep track of how many words you cut from your piece (but beware, setting a goal of 25k and then deleting more and more words just for the sake of winning Camp NaNo can be detrimental to your story)
- For every hour you spend editing, give yourself 1k words toward your word count goal on Camp NaNo’s site.
- Set a word count goal – something like 5k – then divvy up the piece you’re editing into 5 parts (or one part per thousand) and only give yourself those words on your word count when you’ve finished editing each section.

There are a lot of other ways you can approach accounting for your editing while doing Camp NaNo – just find one that works for you and keeps you accountable to your editing throughout the month.

And keep in mind that you will have to validate your word count at the end of the month in order to “win” Camp NaNo. If you’ve reached your editing goal (and be honest with yourself, because you’re the only one you’re hurting if you don’t do any editing and then say you did), then just copy and paste enough of your newly edited story into the validator.

I do hope to get a significant amount of actual writing done this month, but I’ve been riding the wave of Camp NaNo energy during these power-editing sessions this last week and think my word count should reflect all that hard work.

And for all my fellow NaNo editing rebels out there, make sure you’re stocked up on red pens. It’s going to be one hell of a month.

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What are you working on for this round of Camp NaNoWriMo? Are you editing, writing, or doing something else entirely? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to join us on Twitter for sprints to help you reach your word count (hint: you can edit during word sprints too)!

Reaching Your Camp NaNoWriMo Word Count Goal

Reaching Your #CampNaNoWriMo Word Count Goal | From SprintShack.wordpress.com.Greetings, everyone! Today marks the first day of April. For many, that means a day full of whoopee cushions, workplace pranks, and taking years of our families’ lives with some ill-humored jokes… but aside from April Fool’s Day, April 1st brings the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo! That’s a whole extra month of NaNoWriMo goodness for those of us who can’t wait a whole year for the challenges, camaraderie, and sleep-wrecking productivity we so look forward to every November.

As many of you know, we held sprints all day today on our Twitter as a part of our Camp NaNoWriMo kickoff #SprintParty. And while the first day may already be over, never fear—there’s still time to get started if you haven’t yet!

Skye wrote an excellent post on the 25th regarding choosing your perfect target, but I’d like to expand a bit on the best ways to reach that target. One of the great things about Camp NaNoWriMo is that the minimum word count goal is 10,000—or, 333 words per day for the month. For many of us, that’s just one word sprint! However, while it might be comforting to know you don’t have to make that long 50k sprint more than once per year if you don’t want to, setting your own goal and following through with it can be a challenge in and of itself.

In her post, Skye mentions what factors to consider when choosing your word count goal: what do you have going on this month? How much time will you realistically have to write? Does your goal seem reasonable as a whole, but become a bit too daunting a task when broken down to the minimum daily word counts? Ultimately, it can be hard to find a goal that’s challenging yet not too ambitious. Some may lowball, others might overshoot. Either way, the important thing is that you’re trying!

For those who have a busy month ahead, as I do, here are my tips for following through with a challenging, yet doable, word count goal for April:

-Join in on sprints. Didn’t see this one coming, did you? We may reiterate this a lot, but ultimately, we do so because it works. As I said above, some daily word count goals can be knocked out in a simple sprint or two. This helps you squeeze your writing into a busy schedule in true NaNoWriMo form—sprinting shoes on, inner editor off!

-Build a support network. In the same vein, it’s helpful to participate in events such as sprints to build up a network that will keep you accountable. We’ll be holding sprints all through the month, as well as keeping our eyes out for other sprinting events. Try making a #NaNoWager or simply ask a friend to stay on top of you (but make sure it’s a writer friend; muggles just don’t understand!).

-Be flexible. Since goals are a bit less rigid than NaNoWriMo, be somewhat flexible with your word count goal if need be. And I’m not just talking about lowering it! If you find your word count goal isn’t quite where it should be—whether that be too low or too high—adjust it as necessary. Of course, it’s always best to work toward your original goal, but many campers (ourselves included!) are often a bit more lax about their word count goals during Camp NaNoWriMo.

Most importantly, have fun! Think of this month as one long campfire story. Will you get to the end of yours before the flames flicker out? Are you in a cabin with some of your close-knit writing buddies? Let us know what your experience is like throughout the month, and be sure to check in for regular sprints to boost that word count!

Happy camping!

Camp NaNoWriMo: How to Choose the Perfect Target

Camp NaNoWriMo is one week away. (Did anyone else just squeak then?)

Whether you’re bursting with excitement or panicking over unfinished planning, don’t forget about one of the most important features of a successful NaNoWriMo: your target.

What’s one of the most iconic features of NaNoWriMo? The 50k word count goal. But Camp NaNoWriMo is different. Rather than aiming for a set target of 50,000 words, you can choose your own goal. It could be a word count. It could be a poem or story count. It could be anything, really. But how can you decide which one is right for you?

Project Category

Before you decide on any targets, you need to know what you’re writing. Is it a novel? A collection of short stories or poems? A script or non-fiction project? You can select which category your April project falls under on the ‘Edit Novel Info’ section of the Camp website.

Once you’ve settled on what kind of project you’re going to work on during Camp, you’ll have a better idea of what target to aim for. Speaking of which, the first is…

Word Counts

If you’re feeling traditional, a word count target is the way to go. Unlike November’s NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNo allows you to set your own target, anything from 10,000 to 999,999 words (and if you’re going for the top end of that range, I salute you).

How do you decide what word count to aim for? First consider how much you’d like to get done in April and how much time (approximately) you’ll have free to write. Both of these could affect the right word count goal for you.

If you want to write a certain number of words, then it’s pretty straight forward what target to set yourself. If completing a specific section of your project is your goal, then your word count will depend on how big or small that section is. If you want to complete a project in its entirety, then your target will be even bigger still.

How do you know what word count to aim for? That will depend on what project you’re working on. Here’s a general overview:

Once you have an idea of the overall length of a project, it will give you a clearer idea of what word count target to set yourself next month–and when you know what your total goal is going to be, you can break it down into daily sub-goals. Say you’re aiming to write 30,000 words of a novel during Camp. That’s 1000 words a day. Can you write that much each day, every day? If the answer is no, then maybe you should reconsider your overall target. It’s good to challenge yourself during Camp, but set the bar too high and you could easily lose motivation if you start to fall behind.

Another factor to think about when deciding on a word count target is the amount of time you’ll have available to write in April. If you have a very busy schedule, with little time to write, then giving yourself the target of 100,000 words could be too excessive. If you have lots of time to write, however, then aiming for a high word count could well be achievable. Give yourself a rough estimate of how much time you’ll be able to set aside for writing next month and use that to guide your overall target.

Alternate Targets

What if word count goals aren’t right for your project? If you’re working on a collection of poems, for example, then reaching the minimum word count of 10,000 words could be difficult. There’s a way to get around this though.

Firstly, think about what your target would be if you weren’t confined to word count. Poem count? Page count? A certain number of hours spent writing? Decide your overall target for the month in a similar way to the method mentioned above (e.g. how much could you write in a day and how will your available writing time impact this?), then set yourself a daily goal. It might be to write one poem, or two pages, or spend an hour writing–whatever works for you.

Next, choose an arbitrary word count to be equivalent to your daily goal. For example, one poem = 1000 words. If your daily target is to write one poem, then your overall target is to write 30 over the course of April. So, your equivalent overall word count target would be 30,000 words. Put that into the ‘Word-Count Goal’ section under ‘Edit Novel Info’ and, for every day that you write one poem, you’d tell the Camp NaNo site that you’ve written 1000 words. If you only manage to write half a poem one day, then you’d enter 500 words. Two poems in one day, then 2000 words. Et cetera, et cetera.

And that is how you can still win Camp NaNoWriMo, even if your project doesn’t fit the word count target boundaries set by the site.

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What target are you aiming for next month? And how are the cabin assignments going? Have you spoken to your new cabin mates yet?

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Here’s the penultimate Story Shuffle prompt!

Character: Owner of the famous Heaven and Hell nightclub of 1890s Paris. Also an ex-performer at the Moulin Rouge.
Setting: The centre of a black hole.
Year/Era: Cold War.
Item of interest: A cracked mirror that forms a portal between dimensions.

Remember: if you post anything based on any of the Story Shuffle prompts, from microfiction to whole stories, let us know and we’ll promote it to our followers. Enjoy!