Camp Nanowrimo 2016: Discipline

I went back and rewrote the beginning of my project; it felt better, but it was also about 350 words, which does not quite make up the 3500 or so words I have in the version I don’t like. And given that this is essentially the halfway point of Camp Nanowrimo … I mean any way you cut it I am behind. Very behind. And it’s nothing I can’t come back from, but considering the amount of time it’s going to take, the question now for me is whether I want to.

Nope.

That’s the simple answer. And it’s not a big deal. This is a busy time for me in general. I’ve got my MA to focus on because I’m about 3/4ths of the way through that in terms of time and less than halfway in terms of actual writing. I need to focus on that more than I need to finish Camp Nanowrimo. And, of course, I’m not enjoying this story. Yes I like the concept, yes I am narcissistic enough to believe that it is a concept so good that upon completing Camp Nanowrimo I would receive no less than 17 movie deals from which to take my pick. But I just don’t care about writing it. The idea is cool, and I enjoy the idea, but writing it out? Not so much. And on top of all the other things – not getting paid to do this, not having any kind of obligation to do this beyond my own satisfaction, of which I currently can’t get no amount of – there is no downside to me giving up. I mean if I really want to I can always try again later. Camp Nanowrimo, while a fantastic idea, is ultimately just a month. And the only reason it worked for me last year is because I had a project that I actually wanted to work on. I tried it the year before that and gave up, not because there’s anything lacking in the Nanowrimo formula, but because part of that formula is what you bring with you, and I didn’t bring a project that really gripped me. This year is much the same, even though I feel like it should grip me because, when I mull over it in my head, it does. But for whatever reason those same emotional connections are not being drawn while I write it, and since I can’t think of a solution to that, I may as well just call it a failed attempt, put it down while I focus on my MA chapter for this month and then come back later when I feel more energised.

Except.

While I no longer wish to identify myself as a Writer, one whose entire existence revolves around the process of writing, I still want to write and I still want to cultivate the skills it takes to do so beyond it just being a hobby. Why? Because. And the thing is that, even though this story does not grip me, I also know that I can make it work. I can finish it. Maybe with a reduced word-count; maybe not with the goal of even finishing a draft, but just a solid chunk of writing that could be added onto later down the line to make a complete draft. But I can work on it for the rest of the month. I can make myself do that. And rather than an exercise in fun, which is what I was hoping for, I can make Camp Nanowrimo this year an exercise in discipline, an experiment with myself to see how much I can push when I don’t feel it.

What’s the value in this?

Discipline.

And that’s really it. Again, I have no obligation to do anything this Camp Nanowrimo; it’s just for me. But just for me, I really would like to push the parameters of my discipline and ability to motivate myself, which is not the same as making myself feel enthusiastic. And I also know that a lot of what’s going wrong with this project is that I’m not treating it like a first draft. I’m trying to get it right. I’m trying to force myself to use the cliches and tropes that I keep thinking were what made my YA werewolf novel so much fun to write. But what was fun about that was just writing fast; the tropes and cliches, while they did get used a lot, were just part of that process of speed. They were a result of the plan I had for writing it, rather than the plan itself. I’m doing this all backwards, and maybe I can switch that around. Even that takes discipline, after all.

Even if I don’t enjoy the actual project, though, I have the feeling that I could actually enjoy the discipline for its own sake, just knowing that I have that ability. Much like I feel I’d get a lot out of knowing that I can finish a draft of a novel in a month.

So this is my final attempt to make Camp Nanowrimo work for me. Maybe I just needed a bit of perspective on how I was writing and what wasn’t working about my process; maybe that will be enough to loosen things up. But if not, then it’s time to power through. Time to develop the ability to persevere when I don’t want or need to, even if it’s just for the sake of being able to say that I can.

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