Camp NaNo Update and Whine


Well, I finished my projected word count for Camp NaNo.  Hooray!

Or more, hooray-ish.

I’m not as thrilled this time as for the “real” NaNo in November, for two reasons.  I knew I’d be busier this month than I was last November, so I set a lower goal (because you can do that at Camp) of only 20,000 words.  That’s a lot less than 50,000 words in one month, so it’s just not as much of an accomplishment to finish it.  Still, I probably would not have written that many words on my novel this month if I hadn’t participated in Camp, so it’s still a good thing.

The second reason weighs even heavier on me.  I had estimated that I had ten more chapters to write before the end of the book, and that each would take about 2,000 words on average.  So the theory was, write 20,000 words and voila, completed draft!

Alas, I am still not done.  The outline I’m working from is a bit rough, and as it developed over this month, it needed more or longer scenes. I think it’s working, so that’s very good!

But I’m disappointed that it’s not done.

Worse, even if I finish these last few chapters, what I’ve been working on in the last act means I’ll have to go back and add several new or revised scenes early on, to better lead up to where some of the plot threads go.


(Repeat as required.)

To make things even more worse, a few projects are ramping up at work, meaning it will be increasingly difficult to devote time to the novel in the coming months.

I know it’s strange to start with a Winner’s Certificate and yet still be frustrated.  But I am frustrated.  I’m feeling like this story is wriggling out from between my fingers.  I worry that I’ll never get one complete draft, with a full set of chapters that actually lead, one from the other, to create a complete story.

Can I get some support, writer friends?  Have you been here?  How did you climb back out of this funk?  How do you finish that stupid book?  Is there a magic story-finishing wand you’re hiding under your desk?   (If so, message me, we can talk.)

And most importantly:




18 thoughts on “Camp NaNo Update and Whine

  1. Bear with it, My first draft if Feast Fables weighed in at 150k words. Too long! I read it through, made notes, saw where I could make cuts. Made them. Launched into the next draft, attending now to settings, to continuity, to veracity etc. Weighed in at 250k words. Oops. I deleted some more, divided the story into a Trilogy. But the trilogy required some ‘joining pieces’. Wrote it again.
    Result? On 27th May (this year) my blogged book, Feast Fables reaches its conclusion. Final count? Approx. 500k words. Treble oops. But today I completed the last ‘upload and final polish’ (I have still the graphics to do) and I am inordinately pleased with it. It has only taken 3 & 1/2 years to post as episodes.
    So my advice to you? Keep at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So your comforting advice is that it’s just going to get longer? Great! 😉 Ah well, you’re probably right! Every time I revise a chapter, I always end up with more net words than I started with. I am *really* hoping not to get up as high as 500K though. This really wouldn’t work well broken into multiple books; (It’s not nearly as epic as Feast Fables.) I *have* to get it down to one. But first, I have to get it TO one!

      “Keep at it” is the plan. Sometimes I really want that magic wand, though.


      • Yea, I guess that’s how my comment reads. But what I’m really saying is that a story is as long as it needs to be. There were many places where I could have cut chunks, but I woulds have lost character depth; indeed, I’d have lost some characters, or at least their stories. Then at the climax I would have had just names. (In my book) that’s not enough. But, Joe, what I admire of your writing is how succinct you can be. You’ve a talent for saying a lot in so few words. So I have no doubt when you put your mind to it, decide which scenes really are needed, which characters must be developed, then you’ll achieve your aim. But that could take several read throughs and loads of notes. (Which again is what I was saying–badly.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Crispina, I really appreciate your support. And yes, I agree that sometimes a story is simply longer than you thought it would be. I keep hoping that the practice I’ve been getting writing flash fiction with such severe word count limits will pay off in my novel writing. So far? Not so much. Every time I go back to revise a chapter to make it shorter, the same thing happens as you said: it just gets longer! But I’ll keep trying. Given the story line, I don’t see how I could possibly stretch it to three books. Nor do I want to: I have other books waiting to be written! So if I can get my one-and-a-half size book down to simply “okay, that’s still pretty long, but fine” size, I think that’s best-case scenario. At the moment, I just want to get one complete draft done!


      • And no worries on the name typo. It takes a great deal more than that to infuriate me! (Thank goodness.) And far be it for me to throw stones from here in my glass house, ha ha!


  2. Remove your expectations and the frustration will abate a bit. Then cruise the internet for small writers’ conferences. Not the big deals, but the small affordable ones that focus just on writing and “writer’s life”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m interested in what your experiences have been at the writers’ conferences. I’m signed up to go to one this fall, but it’s a bigger one. I’d really like to have this novel in better form by the time I get there, so I have something more to talk about, and can move on to the publishing & selling part of this process.

      For now, though, I’m leaning toward the opposite advice, at least at this stage — less time blogging and social networking and learning about writing life and writers tips (since they keep inspiring me to go back and revise earlier bits), and more time focused on solitary writing.


      • I don’t have a lot of experience with conferences, but from what I’ve heard, the small conference are more casual, focused on craft and easier to connect with others. Big conferences tend to be like big trade shows/market place, but it sounds like that’s what you’re looking for.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not really sure what I’m looking for, yet. Both types sound good to me. But yes, I suppose I’m more in need of concrete help with the publishing aspect than just meeting other writers or getting craft advice. (I am *drowning* in craft advice.)


  3. Sometimes even though you don’t feel like it, you just sit down and write. When you do,even if you’re forcing yourself at first, you’ll often find the ideas start coming. Haunted and staggered at first but beginning brilliantly as you continue, until you reach the end for that day and are satisfied. You may have to go back and really edit but mostly I find doing this helps. Also, you can go back and check-out your plans/notes you have made for how the book is going to end. I’m always reminded if you don’t know how to end, kill your darlings. Sometimes it’s for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All good advice, Amanda. And when I can get the time, yes, if I can just get started, it often works. It’s finding the time, ugh. And yes, there is going to be a LOT of editing when I go back to those early and middle chapters again! I am hoping I won’t have to “kill my babies” but if I can’t cut it down to size any other way, I’ll have to rethink some of these plot lines and streamline it more. The problem now is that every great idea I have just keeps adding more words! Ah well, just keep going….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Too late for that, I’ve been editing the early chapters for months. Which is, of course, why the later chapters aren’t done yet. On the other hand, that gave me more time to explore my various plot threads / series / themes / character arcs, which is hugely useful when trying to wrap everything up in the last act.


  4. The only thing you can do, in my experience, is keep at it. It will all come together in the end. We all go through phases of being frustrated, or even downright depressed with it all – especially when so many other commitments take our time. Once you’ve actually finished the first draft and start editing and cutting, you’ll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your success at Camp Nano does you great credit! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the support Millie! And you’re absolutely right, the only solution is to keep plugging away. And I did, and I got over the hump, I think. Part of the reason I was so frustrated when I wrote this post was that I was losing the vision of exactly what was happening in the last act, and feeling lost. Writing another 10k words really helped me resolve some of that confusion. I still don’t feel that much closer to having a full first draft, but I’ll keep adding a chapter here and there and eventually I know I’ll run out of holes in the outline and probably be surprised – hey, it’s complete! Then I get to go back and tear it up into little pieces, ha ha!


      • I had the same feelings about needing extra chapters – or sometimes just scenes – when editing my books. Usually they were needed to bridge gaps in the two different storyilnes I have running. If I hadn’t ‘visited’ one story for a few chapters, it was necessary to find a place in the middle to write a sort of ‘catch up’ scene so that readers didn’t get out of touch with those characters. (I hope that makes sense!) It is frustrating, but also necessary. I know you’ll keep going because you just aren’t a defeatist! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that definitely makes sense, and I can relate. Almost the whole story takes place inside one building, but there are a few different plot threads weaving their way through. So sometimes I’ll have several chapters dealing with Linsalla’s relationship with her suitor and/or the villagers and realize, wait, when was the last time anything “cursed” happened in this house? Did we forget about that part? Oops.

        Liked by 1 person

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