Howdy from Camp NaNoWriMo

On the field of the self stands a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon. The battle must be fought anew every day. ~ Steven Pressfield

Camp-NaNoWriMo-2013-Lantern-Vertical-BannerIn my post “You Can’t Finish What You Don’t Start” I talk about how fear and excuses can stop us from starting on a path toward a goal or dream. That post was written in mid-November 2012 during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). On the day I wrote it, I had tallied 30,000 words toward finishing the first draft of a fantasy novel. And by the end of November I was a sleep-starved gelatinous mass quivering on my keyboard – having survived the last few days on mounds of chocolate and gallons of Mountain Dew – BUT I finished the race and surpassed the goal of 50k words.

I decided last year that I would never do another NaNo in November, but it’s April now and the memory of that past pain has faded, and National Novel Writing Month’s little sibling has begun. Camp NaNoWriMo is billed as “an idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” And crazy is one word to describe this journey.

On day five of Camp, my resolve is already wavering. I’ve written 4,000 words toward my 30-day goal of 30k words divided between five short stories. It hasn’t been easy, but like anything worth doing, sacrifice is necessary. My house is suffering and my husband is already eating toast and dry cereal for dinner. Between bouts of writing, I work on my lengthy to-do list which includes putting together and editing a 16-page newsletter for my writing organization, plus playing interim webmaster for their website. Let’s not forget that April is tax month – yippee!

What was I thinking when I committed to this? Certainly another month would have been better, less hectic, more convenient…but there is no better month, no better time than now. And what does convenience have to do with following my dreams?

I know I can do this. I survived Army basic training. I raised four children. I’ve dressed the dead (that’s a story for another day). I can do this. But commitment is not all it takes to finish such a project. I realize now, five days into Camp, that I simply didn’t plan ahead well enough. I can’t go back, but there are things I can do from here on out to make sure I finish the race:

  • Schedule. As much as possible. But be real and flexible – life happens.
  • Get Up Early. And go to bed at a decent time. Without sleep, I can’t think straight.
  • Creative Time. Mornings are best for me – that’s when I should work on projects.
  • Exercise. A little bit everyday is better than nothing.
  • Kill Time Suckers:
    • Television. Record favorite shows to watch later.
    • Internet. Don’t get sucked in. Make notes to do research later.
    • Email. Check email once a day, and set a timer to do so.
  • Plan Meals and Snacks. Note to self: I can eat dry cereal three times a day, but my husband shouldn’t have to.
  • Use Tools: A calendar, master to-do list, daily to-do list, and giant marker board are my friends.
  • Prioritize: Some things can wait and some things can’t. Do what’s most important first, carry over the rest to the next day, then re-prioritize.

I should have been better prepared going into Camp, but I won’t allow myself to use that as an excuse to give up. It takes a lot stronger dragon than that to drive me completely off course. That said, the focus of NaNoWriMo is to encourage writers to do what they long to do – to write. To help us move forward on our writing journey. And as I said in my November post, whatever the final word count ends up being, I will be closer to finishing than if I hadn’t started at all.

What is keeping you from moving forward on a dream? What do you do to stay on course?

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