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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camp Nano starts June 1, plus related quotes from Steinbeck

Two Novembers ago I participated in NaNoRiMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time. For the uninitiated it is a month-long writing event, where people from all over the world join together online to help cheer each other on to get a draft of their novel done, or almost done, in one month--to reach a total of at least 50 K words. The experience was enlightening. I didn't know I could write that fast, or write one scene after another, without going back to edit. You have no time to edit each chapter. Heck, I didn't even divide the writing into chapters. Just scenes, labeled "New Scene". It was crazy! But it worked, and it was exhilarating to watch my word count shoot up every day, and to cheer others on. There is magic in pounding out that shi*ty first draft, and magic in writing without obsessively reading your daily output.

I skipped last November, because I had just finished polishing a novel, and I badly needed a break. But now... I want to write a sequel and I need and want outside structure and a cheering committee.
Camp is on! There's Camp Nano June, and Camp Nano August, and I can't wait to meet my fellow cabin mates! Hey, we don't even need bug spray or sunblock! And we don't have to eat gloppy oatmeal or burned smores. Here is Galleycat's take on the event, including 60 tips. Click to read.

Here are inspiring Steinbeck quotes that Nano folks would heartily agree with:

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 (or so) pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper (or on your laptop). Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

Are you doing Camp Nano? If so, come say hi (At CatherineStine). If not, what kind of discipline do you employ to get yourself writing regularly and profusely?


  1. 'In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.'

    Stephen King expressed this, too. I think it might have been in 'On Writing.'

    Good luck with the Camp, Catherine! I am certain it will be a very productive time for you.

  2. Good luck, Catherine!

    I swear, every time this rolls around (Nov. or June) I've just finished writing a manuscript. LOL. I need to plan better.

  3. Thanks, Suze. Yes, I've heard this from a few writers. Hey, it obviously worked for Lewis Carroll.

  4. I read the other day that there is a June NaNo. I didn't know about the August one.

    But alas, I just finished writing the first draft of my new WIP, and I'm ready to start editing it (it's been on vacation for several months). And I'm away for a lot of August, so no way can I participate in that one. I've yet to be able to participate in NaNo. As you can see, the timing never works for me.

  5. I'll be there, but not sure if I can swing the month of June. It's only day one and I'm already crazy busy. We will be in Colorado for 9 days, and I start teaching yoga again on the 18th. I should wait until August and try that one. Who knows, I may get completely inspired visiting the Stanley Hotel next week and get wild idea. :)

    Have fun! If I sign up, I'll let you know!

  6. Stina, congrats on finishing that draft! Candy, maybe I'll see you at the August one, where I'll still be slaving away on that one ms. Who knew you taught yoga? That's so great! And enjoy those ghosts at the Stanley Hotel.

  7. NaNo is only for the brave, and I'm just a little chicken hiding in the corner, working on my revisions... la-di-doo-da-doo... "Pay no attention to the chicken in the corner."

  8. Hahha, Lexa, at least you are honest about it. I appreciate that. Love your new site, BTW!

  9. I haven't participated in any NaNoWriMos because of all the other on-going projects, but I think I'm going to just plunge in this time. I need this for my MG novel. As petrifying as it sounds ...

  10. Yay, Claudine! Find me over there and I'll help cheer you on!

  11. I finally arrived at camp today - missed the bus, had to take a cab. (Read: I got a late start to the month.) I am rebelling by drafting short stories instead of a novel, but I am looking forward to laying down some serious word count. Good luck at camp!

  12. Good, Elizabeth! The more, the merrier.