A Month of Writing – July

MoW-ENSummer is the time when people think of the sun, long-awaited vacation in some nice place and focus on relaxing if they can. Those of us stuck in the day jobs can only dream of the sea and beaches while glancing at the patch of the blue sky through the office window. And with the weather being moody this year in Ireland, I got my heat only from my projects, because July was quite challenging.

I knew I had to find a new project to dive in, but nothing seemed appealing enough, so producing 1000 words a day turned out to be a battle for inspiration. I added random scenes to my ongoing projects, worked on some short stories (including the story of two characters from “By His Will” have met), and produced several blog posts (of which some still needs translation before you get to see them on the website). I wrote a few drabbles. I also outlined the second book of “By His Will”, but with the first book still in the editing stage, I decided to wait. I want the ideas to develop in my head, so that “By Her Will” matches the elaborate intrigue from the first book.

All in all I met the month’s end with over 30,000 words written, but it made me realize again how easy it is to write when one has something thoroughly planned, versus trying to come up with stories on the go.

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How about the Camp NaNoWriMo? After all 365k Club was not the only challenge I was taking in July. My goal was 30,000 words which according to the Camp’s rules equaled to 30 hours devoted to the editing. It meant I’d have to get an hour of editing daily, on top of the time devoted to writing, and I knew I needed a solid plan, since the time would be my biggest enemy. I spent 9 hours at work every week day, and I decided to take the printed pages to work to edit during my lunch time. Depending whether I brought food for home or had to go and get it, I had between 30 and 60 minutes for editing. That’s 5 to 10 pages done, depending how much I had to fix, and I’m lucky enough I didn’t come across any place that needed a major rewrite. At least not yet.

The other thing that worked was getting editing done before writing. When I edited, my goal was measured in time increments, and it didn’t matter whether I spent it trying to fix one page or edited a whole chapter, but my writing progress required 1000 words no matter how long it took, so I found it easier to get the editing out of the way first, knowing that I could spend the rest of the evening on writing if necessary. It wasn’t a bad idea since on particularly difficult weekend I managed to write as slow as 100 words per hour! Of course, a lot of procrastination and distractions were involved in the process, but it still shows how hard it was to write that day.

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I also had the priorities set: if was to fail something, it was the Camp challenge, not the 365k Club, so whenever I came home late or ran short on time because life interfered, I’d focus on writing. I could always catch up with the editing during lunches or with an extra hour on the weekends. It worked quite well, and let me organize my day better instead of struggling back and forth between the two challenges.

I also enjoyed my time in the Camp’s cabin, and have met great people: we encouraged each other in the cabin’s forum and chatted on Twitter, and the month spent with them went way too quick. I liked how the Camp encouraged me to do the editing and I found myself enjoying the process much more than I expected. Of course, the great company I’ve had makes me think whether I should join the November’s NaNoWriMo, but I still don’t see it working for me. I like the flexibility of the 365k Club when it comes to writing (it doesn’t matter in which project I write my 1000 words a day as long as I write it), and the November event does not include editing. But I do look forward to the April’s edition of the Camp, since by then I should have another novel to be edited.

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Needless to say, meeting both goals, and mixing writing with editing tested my limits, and although I emerge victorious, I feel quite tired. So if you ask how does winning two challenges feel, I can only say: exhausting. I will definitely slow down with the editing now, when the Camp is finished, though I plan on keeping some of the habits that worked for me during the month.

On top of meeting my monthly goal for 365k Club and winning Camp NaNoWriMo, July was also the month in which I hit 200,000 of words written in 2015 and 200 days of consecutive writing, and when I look at these numbers and remember I expected to fail the challenge around January, I feel very happy that I committed to it, but now that I’ve reached the finish line for the month, please excuse me, I need to catch my breath.

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This post is a part of the “A Month of Writing” series – a monthly report on my progress in the 365k Club challenge.

4 thoughts on “A Month of Writing – July”

  1. Congratulations on this progress Joanna:)). You’ve done so very well with your writing targets – 200,000 words is a huge achievement. There are full-time writers who struggle to attain that output.

    I really like (envy, in fact!) your approach to editing, in that you give yourself an ‘editing’ slot in the day, before getting on with your daily wordcount. Wish I was able to work like that… Again, HUGE respect to your ordered and disciplined approach to the task. I’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo, so I’m assuming that the Camp is an editing workshop where you can get similar support for redrafting and tidying up your m/s that NaNoWriMo gives during November when writing your first draft?

    1. Thank you, Sarah! I know half of these words written will be useless, but I still can recycle some ;).
      Editing was easier to start with, because it didn’t have the pressure of the outcome. If I wanted to stare at one sentence for an hour, deciding on one comma, it was fine. I did a bit more, of course, but still, it was easier than getting out these 1k words.
      It’s hard to call NaNo events “workshops” (this suggests there are some kind of mentors or teachers). They’re more of a “let’s do it together and hold each other accountable (or waste time chatting)” events in my eyes. NaNoWriMo is the main event (always in November), where the goal is to write 50k words in a month (“a novel” – they allow series of connected short stories too). Camp NaNo has more relaxed rules, it allows writing non-fiction, short stories, do editing, etc. and it also allows to pick the word goal. Other than that it’s the same: you type (or edit), log your wordcount and validate it at the end of the month to get badges (and discounts for the sponsors’ merchandize).

  2. I have to admit that the present heatwave makes it extremely difficult for me to add 1 k words every day to my story. Sometimes it’s so hot (38-39 degrees Celsius) that I hardly think at all. Still good to know you’ve managed to meet all your goals despite all those difficulties.

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