Last night at approximately 11 pm I wrote the last twenty words or so of my goal for participating in Camp NaNoWriMo for April. I had been interrupted from finishing a few minutes before by noticing on the baby monitor that my daughter was about to crawl off the bed in her sleep (we’re at my parents’ so the bed is high and the floor is hard) and then dashing up a flight of stairs and tossing my laptop on the landing to catch her in time. With the amount of adrenaline I had pumping, I probably could have jotted down another two thousand no problem.
The camp is different from NaNoWriMo in November in that you set your own goal in terms of words, pages, or time. I chose 10,000 words – something to challenge but not overwhelm. I tried doing this last year, but it never really got off the ground. My decision this year was extremely last minute. Wanting to give myself the best chance I could though, I asked my best friend from home to make a cabin (the term they use for group support on the website) with me for accountability. I think it made all the difference in my success compared to both of my attempts last year. A little competition is good for the motivation, but mostly it was knowing that another person I respected could see how much I had written on any particular day and whether I was on track to finish or not.
I noticed that instead of writing a small amount each day – I think I only needed to write around 330 words a day – I tended to write in larger chunks with often a few days in between. This works for me because once I get in the groove of writing I like to keep going and could write anywhere from 700 – 2,000 words at a time. That may not be much to some, but I have only a short time each night after my daughter is down before I need to crawl in to bed myself, so it feels like a real accomplishment. I’d rather work with this than fight it, so I will plan my future writing with this pattern in mind.
The next camp doesn’t run until July at which point I won’t be working any more and can try to up my word count even more. In the mean time I’m trying to set up an accountability method that keeps me writing on a deadline for each month even if the word count goal fluctuates. There is a bigger end goal in mind of a finished manuscript by a particular date that still feels out of reach. Only looking to the next month feels easier than focusing on that right now.
Over all, I’m pretty proud of myself. This month was derailed by a death in the family and a long trip to North Dakota. I could have just said, “hang it” and given up with a completely reasonable excuse, but I chose to stay up and write even after long, long days and late and restless nights for me and my baby. I think I need to sleep for a week, but hitting a goal like that has only left my mind and motivation energized for the new month. Here’s to small steps toward big changes.