In my last post I’ve mentioned how I’ve been more interested in writing a novel rather than writing short stories on my blog, and then coincidentally I stumbled upon this blog post by Hayley about Camp NaNoWriMo and I thought I’d give it a go.
I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) before but I’ve never participated in it mainly because I had exams on the month of November (every single year), so writing was not at all convenient for me. And then there’s the April Camp NaNoWriMo, but I wanted to join the A to Z Challenge, so I skipped out on that, and then finally came July, I participated in my first ever Camp NaNoWriMo.
I don’t know what’s the difference between the regular NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, but I think they both serve the same purpose–that is to motivate people to write 50k words in one month, which is basically a full-length novel. Camp NaNoWriMo is like a virtual camp where writers are called campers, there are fun writing sprints, cabins where you can interact with other campers, etc. Camp Pep Talks is my favourite ’cause it really gives me the boost of motivation I need.
Now here are some of the things I learnt through camp (which are basically writing tips for amateur writers like myself):
1. Just Write
I know it’s a no-brainer, like duh, of course you have to write to construct a novel. But no, you won’t get it unless you’re serious about writing. If you’re serious, you would start thinking about all the What Ifs and you’ll start doubting yourself, and eventually you probably didn’t write anything at all, and you’d quit before even completing the second chapter of your story. You would think you’re not good enough, that you’d find another hobby. I get it. I’ve been there. Heck, if you’ve read the story I wrote on Wattpad, I had all the uncertainties, doubts and fears while I was writing that story. I had to have people tell me my story was good enough before I’d have the confidence to continue writing again. But you know what? Everything only exists in my head. Nobody said my writing is rubbish, nobody said I should stop writing because I was horrible at it. It’s just me. And now when I write my new novel, I just write. I don’t judge my own writing, I just let my imaginations flow and just write the first thing that comes to my head. What if it’s genuinely, utterly, disgustingly crappy? Like, what if it’s a fact, not just my own opinion? Who cares? First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. In writing a novel, I’ve learnt that quantity comes first, quality later. You can criticize your own work after you’ve finished it, not before, not halfway through. It will demotivate you if you do that. So, just write. Don’t think. Just Write.
2. Silence Your Inner Editor
This is kind of similar to the first point. When you write, it’s normal to have a tendency to reread what you’ve written to see if it makes sense. I know I do that all the time. But now I try not to. Why? Because if you fuss about the minor details of your story all the time, your story won’t ever be told. I know the word you used didn’t fit the scenario perfectly, or the sentence you wrote sounded off, but that shouldn’t be your main concern. The only responsibility you have is to finish your novel as a writer, not edit it all the time like an editor. I know it’s hard, but truth is, because you’re in charged of your own novel, you won’t ever find it perfect. Even after you’ve edited it, days, weeks, or months later when you read it back, you would definitely find flaws in it again. Might as well not edit it at all in the first place. Let your story be told. Editing comes later.
3. Don’t Show Anyone Your Work Before You’re Done With It
Okay, this probably derived from my own experience of publishing my works online before it’s actually finished. And this is also completely subjective, you don’t have to agree with me. It has nothing to do with being paranoid or afraid of having others stealing your story idea, or plagiarism whatnot, it’s a matter of wanting to change something in your story, but can’t, because it is already shown to the world. I also try not to show my friends what I’ve written, but sometimes I couldn’t help it because I’m excited about my own work and wanted their input. Why I try to keep my story to myself is basically due to the reason of not wanting to be judged before I’m ready to be judged, you get me? I trust my friends to be honest with me when it comes to my writing, and I won’t hold anything against them for giving me constructive criticism, even if I’d feel sad about it at the time, but I know it’s for my own good. So, it’s like, I don’t want them to point out a spelling or grammar mistake when I could’ve corrected those myself. Those obvious mistakes that I could’ve made changes to if I proofread my story, I don’t want them to point those out, I’d rather have them comment on plot holes, or certain lines that could’ve sounded better, stuff like that. And I couldn’t have them do that if I only let them read the first three chapters of my story. So yeah, I find keeping my story to myself until I’m ready is better, in my opinion.
So yeah, that’s about it I guess. Initially I thought I would compile a legit list of things I’ve learnt, but it turns out it all boils down to one thing–just write. I hope this is useful to writers out there who just started out with writing, and I think with whatever you want to do in life, sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. Don’t think too much about it. If it works out, great, if it doesn’t, what do you have to lose, right?
Oh, and if you’re wondering, I only wrote a little over 16k words throughout camp out of the goal of 50k words. I’m not disappointed, but I’m not proud of myself either. I know I could’ve written more words, but at the same time, I’ve written more than what I normally would write under normal circumstances. Before this, I only write 2 chapters in a month (because I constantly edit), but now I’m able to write 8 chapters in a month thanks to the camp. I’ll keep writing though, I’m not done yet. Hopefully I’ll have something to show in the future 🙂
Oh and if you have anything else to add about advice on writing, I’d love to hear your input! 😀