GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!
Today I have some very exciting news to share! And it is NOT, as you might have guessed, the fact that I’m actually posting on a Tuesday for once. Aha. No no. That would be far too short of a blog post. . .
. . .
Actually, now that you mention it. . .
*end credits start rolling*
OKAY OKAY, THAT ISN’T MY ANNOUNCEMENT. Ahem. It’s something a lot more exciting, of course, and–*adjusts invisible bow tie*–something I am very excited about. . .
My friends, on April 26, 2020, I won Camp NaNoWriMo with 60,292 words!!!
*insert intense flailing here*
(i’m kind of over the moon excited about this, folks. but excitement does not translate well over text, so here, take a plethora of exclamation marks instead. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!. . . . . .!)
60,000 words. When you boil it down to just a number on a page, it doesn’t really feel like a lot. BUT. GUYS. 60,000 WORDS IS A WHOLE LOTTA WORDS, LET ME TELL YOU. I mean, I’ve never written 60,000 words in a single month before. The last time I wrote 60,000 words towards a single book was with everlost, and that was like, what? Three years ago?
Aha. . . Yeah. I’ve been a slacker, apparently.
But NOT ANYMORE, PEASANTS!!! I’ve officially broken through the 60k barrier with Project Sunset, and now that it’s done, I know for a FACT that I can finish this book now. I owe it to the story to get to the end. I owe it to myself.
But most importantly, I owe it to my characters.
. . .because I’m pretty sure they’ve discovered the plot line of the final act and have been plotting my death ever since. (which clearly means I need to finish the book and get it out of my system before my inevitable/untimely demise.)
Which brings me back to this final stretch of Camp NaNoWriMo. As predicted, I’m nowhere near close to finishing this book by the end of the month. (gasp!) But this time, I’m not going to give up on my writing momentum just because NaNo is ending.
I’m sure we can all agree that the past month has been one of the strangest months we’ve ever witnessed. What with the whole Virus™ thing happening and quarantine (*one extrovert screaming*) and waaaaaay too much time on our hands* **, I know that I, personally, have had more time than ever to dedicate to my writing. (unfortunately, I’ve put most of this writing dedication towards my book instead of my blog, but??? I can’t say it’s time wasted?? ….right???) But once quarantine ends and work begins as usual, I’m worried that I’m going to lose all of this momentum that I’ve built up over the course of the past 30-ish days.
BUT I CANNOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN. Yes, I’ll have less time on my hands and therefore less time to give to my book, but if this month has taught me anything, it’s that it is less how much time I have to put towards my craft, and more what I actually do with the time I am given.
(hello, yes, Gandalf called. he wants his quote back.)
That’s why writing sprints have been a literal lifesaver for me this month. I’ve heard it said a million times that setting a timer helps keep you focused (something I constantly struggle with, as we all know), but it wasn’t until I physically put it into practice that I discovered just how true this is. (and I could write an E N T I R E blog post on this, so I’ll save the “set a timer, save your writing career” spiel for later.) However, that being said, there are still far too many moments when I find myself distracted during my writing sprints. In fact, there was one particular moment this April where I stalled out completely, and in that moment, I wasn’t entirely sure if I had it in me to keep going.
So since we’re at the part of the month where everyone is stress-writing in a panic-infused frenzy as they try to hit their goals, I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to turn this horrible memory into one of Kenzie’s Super Mega Awesome Pep Talks!
(because we all know I’m super epically amazing at this. obviously. *distant screaming*)
* you are now contractually obligated to listen to this song right here. you’re welcome.
** chances are you, too, have far too much time on your hands, UNLESS, of course, you’re an essential worker. and if that is the case, DUDE. I see you. I appreciate you. Keep doing your thing, because you are A M A Z I N G.
A PEP TALK BY KENZIE: Finish Your Sprint
(lol. see what I did there? I was talking about sprinting, and now my pep talk is about sprints and . . . yeah, you all got it. moving on.)
So. Allow me to take you back to the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a Thursday. Or a Wednesday. Or . . . okay, so I don’t exactly remember what day it was, but it was an important day, I promise. Because on this day, I had a less-than-five-minute existential crisis that completely altered how I now view my writing.
As mentioned above, I have become obsessed with writing sprints. So on this particular day, at this particular moment, I was right in the middle of a five-minute word sprint when, all of a sudden, I wrote the absolute worst sentence I have ever written in my entire life.
. . .or rather, one of the worst sentences I can ever remember writing. Except I don’t even remember what this sentence was about, so clearly the sentence in question is not as important as I had initially thought. But I digress.
As soon as my fingers had typed this absolute atrocity that was this sentence, I completely stalled. All forward momentum was lost. My fingers sprung away from the keys, and all I could see was this giant, inky mark of awfulness on my paper. And in that moment, as the clock continued to tick away and I continued to stare, I was suddenly struck with the most ridiculous thought: what if I wasn’t meant to be a writer?
I mean, clearly someone who wrote such a terribly constructed sentence didn’t deserve to write stories. Writers are supposed to know what they’re actually doing, right? They’re supposed to use words to paint pretty pictures and break hearts and ruin lives. But in that moment, I didn’t feel like I could do any of that.
And thus ensued my crisis. For a solid minute I sat there, pondering my very existence. If I wasn’t meant to write stories, what was I supposed to be doing with my life? If I never wrote another word again, who would I be?
I wish I could say that I had some prophetic vision of myself in an alternate universe during all of this. I wish I could tell you that the Kenzie I saw there wasn’t anything like the girl I wanted to become. That she was a being, but not truly living. I wish I could tell you that my brain produced some sort of inspirational pep talk that kept me going, reminding me of why I wanted to be a writer in the first place, reminding me that I did have the makings of an author, if I just had the courage to try.
Unfortunately, my brain is not that intense.
Instead, as I sat there with my fingers resting idle on the keys, I remembered one little thing that threw me back into action.
I still had a timer running.
It was only a five minute sprint, and I’d obviously just wasted about two minutes of it, but I still had three minutes left. And even if I was going to write the absolute worst sentences in the history of sentences within those three minutes, I owed it to both my book and myself to, at the very least, finish the sprint.
And so that’s what I did. I put my fingers back to the keys and I started writing, and I finished my sprint.
And then I started another one. And another.
Returning to present day (*vlooop!*), I now look back on that moment as a pivotal scene in the book which is my life. If I hadn’t kept going that day, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to the 60,000 words I now have. Maybe I wouldn’t be as far along in my story as I now am. Maybe I would have given up on this book before I’d even fully gotten started.
But all of those ifs and maybes don’t matter, because I did keep going, and I did write all those words. And I’m still here today, writing more words and adding more scenes to this weird disaster-child of a story that I love to absolute pieces.
So today, on the day before the day before the very last day of NaNo, I would like to challenge you to finish your own sprint, whatever that may be. Maybe your sprint is finishing the chapter that’s been dragging you down. Or maybe it’s setting a timer and writing for 10 minutes without distraction. Maybe it’s carving out a chunk of time between now and the 30th to cross that finish line on your Camp NaNoWriMo project.
Or maybe, like me, it’s making a pact with yourself that, even after NaNoWriMo is over, you’re going to keep writing your story–and you’re going to finish it.
Forget about the world peering over your shoulder. Ignore that inner voice telling you that nobody is going to want to read your story, because right now, the only reader that matters is you. This book is first and foremost your own, and it doesn’t matter if you just wrote the absolute worst sentence of your life. What matters is that you don’t allow that sentence to define you. What matters is that you pick yourself back up and brush yourself off and keep going.
What matters is that you finish your sprint, and once you’re done, you start back over and do it again.
Whatever your sprint is, whatever your goal, my hope for you is that you have the courage to finish it, no matter how long it takes.
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
And there you have it! A final-push pep-talk from Yours Truly! It may seem a little cheesy, but I decided to make Finish Your Sprint my new motto for the month of April, and after writing 60,000 words, I think it’s safe to say it’s gonna stick. So many times I’ve found myself questioning whether or not I’m cut out for this, but once I tune out of what I fear the rest of the world will think and just focus on writing my story because I love and am passionate about writing, I find the words–however bad–come easier.
And you never know. Sometimes an absolute gold mine comes out of those weird little bunny trails. XD
So for today’s conversation topics, I want to know if you’ve ever had a similar situation to this. Have you ever found yourself questioning your abilities as a writer, and if so, how did you overcome it? Do you write using writing sprints, or do you prefer to just sit down with an uncaged block of time and simply write? and most importantly of all–
HOW IS YOUR CAMP NANOWRIMO PROJECT GOING?
Even if you don’t think you’re going to “win”, remember that it isn’t so much how much you write or how far you get in your project, but whether or not you’re pleased with your story and the progress you have made. (and I am ALWAYS here to be your cheerleader, btw. my inbox/nanowrimo mail is wide open. <333)
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .