Archives: editing

Camp NaNoWriMo is my kind of roughing it



I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November and . . . not sure “loved” is the right word . . . Let’s just say I got caught up in the crazy, can-do spirit of it all and learned I can crank out the words if you give me a goal, encouragement, nifty progress charts and coffee — lots and lots of coffee.

This month, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo with the aim of whipping my first novel, The Leaving Year, into shape for a final (I really mean it this time) round of submissions. I’m about 100 pages into a tune-up of my protagonist’s character arc, which, according to one agent, slipped around too much.

So far so good. I’m enjoying the Camp, which organizers bill as “an idyllic writers retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

It’s more flexible and less intense than NaNoWriMo:  The November main event gives you one goal — a 50,000-word novel – while the camp allows you to set any bar (words, hours, pages, even lines) on any writing project.

And, just like NaNoWriMo, you get a lot of on-line goodies, including:

  • nifty progress charts
  • virtual write-ins
  • writing advice
  • writing forums
  • prompts and exercises
  • pep talks from published authors

The Camp theme is fun. Participants join virtual cabins with 19 like-minded others. Mine is a “mixed” cabin of writers working on drafting and revision. With project names like “Night of the Sasquatch,” “Ghosts” and “Becoming Dawn,” I know I’m in creative company. And best of all, nobody snores!

I should add that everything NaNo is FREE, but you are asked to contribute to the cause. Here’s a bit more about their mission and programs from the website:

National Novel Writing Month . . . believes your story matters. We know that writing makes the world a more creative, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program, we work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity. And, we can’t do it without writers like you.

If you want to try Camp NaNo, but missed out this month, you can sign up for the second camp in July. By then, the sun and mosquitoes will be out, and you can make believe you’re doing the real thing.

So what’s your project or dream project? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Sketch break!

I love losing myself in my right brain. It feels so good, like cross-training, after weeks of  intense book editing.

When I fall into that meditative realm of color, shape and shadow, I lose all track of time. The words and reasoning that usually dominate my life take a back seat.

I used to draw and paint all the time. My favorite classes in high school and college were art classes. I almost switched careers from journalism to commercial art after I was laid off from my second newspaper job in the late 1980s. I ultimately stayed in journalism.

Ah, the path not taken . . .

Art would remain a hobby I’d revisit now and then (mostly then). It was hard to find the time and motivation to dig out my supplies and dive in. So when I saw a Facebook post for this class — “Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor,” at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture  — I couldn’t resist.

Instructor and artist Lisa Snow Lady makes it fun, no matter your skill level. She offers the class every quarter (next one will be in August), so if you’re interested, check the UWBG website, classes and events calendar.

Here’s a little gallery of the work I did:

I think I’ll keep my sketch books, pens and paints out for a while so I can get my right-brain fix whenever I need it. With plants, there’s no shortage of subjects this time of year.

What do you do for your mental cross-training? Please chime in below.