Camp Nano Winner 2018 – Things I Learnt

I did it! I completed Camp Nanowrimo, I’m officially a winner.

You can find out more about Camp Nanowrimo here. Reaching my goal, i.e. writing 50k words in one month, was one of the most difficult things I’ve taken part in as a writer.

Camp Nanowrimo learnt

Let me tell you why:
  • I haven’t written more than 10,000 words on one project for nearly two years.
  • I chose to write a YA genre novel – I’ve never written a YA piece before
  • I had a ridiculously busy month in my day job, launching a project I’ve been leading on for 6 months
  • 6 months ago (i.e. when the day job changed) I lost my creativity

 

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve learnt some things from my first camp experience, things that may help you too:

I can’t write every day

That’s not to say I didn’t but I found it difficult, nearly pushing myself to illness to make sure I was writing my set amount. I’ve read on twitter about how writers should write every day as it helps you create something. It doesn’t help me! I need time to think out the next section I’m going to write. By constantly writing I can’t find the space to think, tease out and then solve the problems. Which brings me to another point.

I need more than writing in my life

Shock, horror, did I say that out loud? I like to formulate plot, work out points, meet up with friends and discuss writing but I also like having a life that isn’t about writing. That’s not to say writing doesn’t filter through to the other parts of my day but the last month I ditched a lot of things to get the novel written; exercise, socialising, sleep. I’ll be spending the next month trying to lose the weight I gained during the month!

I can write more than I thought I could

I asked my boyfriend for his thoughts on what I might have learnt and this was his contribution. It’s easy for me to see the negatives but he’s right. After the first week I didn’t believe I could achieve the 50k goal, after the second week I didn’t believe I could achieve it, even up until a couple of days before I finished I knew it was touch and go. As a writer you might get negative reviews and lack of interest from publishers but ultimately for me no one brings my writing down like I do and I need to remind myself of my strengths and what I’ve achieved instead of what I haven’t.

Never underestimate the importance of chatting with other writers

There was one particular moment when I was sitting on a train, knowing that was my best time to write and yet the motivation had disappeared. I chatted with another writer on twitter, Anne Pyle, about needing to write and she gave me the energy and focus I needed. Within 10 minutes I was back on it. I wrote another 2,000 words that day. I don’t think I would have written another word if it hadn’t been for her.

I love writing

In the last year when my creativity left me I was unsure whether I should focus on my day job rather than writing. But this month reminded me that I do adore writing, even when it’s a struggle to get pen to paper. I love channelling things I see and imagine into writing. It’s a great place to work through my frustrations too.

And a last thing I want to share. The day after I finished my 50k novel an email popped into my inbox. A short story I wrote last year has been accepted into an anthology.  What a way to end the month!

What did you learn from either this or a previous Nanowrimo? Leave your comments here or on my Facebook page or Twitter page.

Ask Me To Stay

Love pagerLet me set the scene…

It’s nearly twenty years ago, a nineties pop ballad, that you’ve only heard in “remember when” radio shows (I mean you, B*witched), is playing as I sit in my bootcut trousers and strappy top. People are still recreating the famous Rose and Jack scene whenever they get near the bow of a boat and people relied on pagers on a night out.

More importantly than this my life is on the cusp of something new.

Two people, and by people I mean fictional TV characters, are about to come into my life and change it forever.

One will teach me about empowerment, kicking butt and that females can be and are hilarious. And not because they’re airhead bimbos who are the joke but because they’re fucking awesome. They can even be the protagonist in major television shows, books and life. Buffy Summers burst onto my television and changed everything.

But this post is about another nineties character. He taught me that I like bad boys – not the ones who set fire to things or damage lives – but the ones who underneath all the bravado have a heart. They make us laugh, they hurt when awful things happen, they struggle through the crap life throws at them and can be a bit useless. BUT they love with all they have and when the situation calls for it they step up and kiss the girl.

Step forward Pacey Witter

A man who has been number 1 on my list of guys I want to be with for nearly 20 years.

Pacey Love ninetiesLike Joey I didn’t appreciate him at first. I thought he was an idiot who’d had an affair with his teacher. It wasn’t until series 3 that I fell for him and I’ve never looked back.

When I write stories I can see that there’s a little bit of Pacey popping up all over the place. He comes through my writing in the humour, the cheeky glances and the teasing nature of many of my protagonists. Sometimes his character is revealed through the broken nature of those I write about, especially when they slowly redeem themselves and become whole, with little mistakes along the way.

I’m not ashamed of the impact the show had on my life; it taught me through it’s beautiful scenery and unnecessarily adult language about unrequited love, betrayal, death, prejudice, suffering and how the first kiss can be terrifying no matter who you are. This is something both myself and my characters can testify to.

This weekend one of my best friends, A, is getting married. She was my “rival” for Pacey’s love – I know how ridiculous that sounds but I was a teenager! At least I wasn’t weeping about my love for Brian Harvey from East 17… I know someone who did though.

The contest between myself and A brought us closer and I look forward to being able to share her special day with her. Also, it means Pacey is all mine now too!

So I owe a debt of gratitude to Dawson’s Creek, its creators and especially Joey and Pacey, for teaching me about love and giving me a best friend for life. Joey and Pacey got their happy ever after and in doing so let me see why romance is a key part of everything I write.

Happy 20 year anniversary to their first episode!

Don’t forget to tell me about your first TV love via my Facebook page or Twitter page. They don’t have to be from the nineties but they have to have been significant.