The Déjà Vu Writer: July Camp NaNoWriMo Days 1-2

Welcome to 2021’s Juliwrimo, or the July installment of Camp National Novel Writing Month! After a long pandemic hiatus, in which the most productive thing I did was write 30 alternatingly hilarious and tragic COVID-inspired poems, I’m back to blogging daily for the month of July! Let’s chat, procrastinate, and maybe even get some words down together!

My Day 1 experience has me wondering: ever have déjà vu? Not just in any old sense of the word, but the writerly kind? Say you’ve settled down for a nice afternoon at the keyboard, and after an hour you sit back and realize you could have sworn this story has already been written before. The worst thing is discovering your amazing idea has already been written and published 5 years ago. And that you read it as a teenager!

Actually, this doesn’t often happen to me, but even if it does for you, don’t let that stop you from making your amazing-spectacular idea a reality. There will always be similarities to already existing books, but your combination of concepts, characters, and writer’s voice makes your idea perfectly your own.

No, my writerly déjà vu has to do with me unintentionally copying myself! I experienced this on my very first day of NaNo this month – what a great start. Long-time Procrastiwrimo readers will know that I don’t follow NaNo rules. I don’t always write 50,000 words (I’m going for 35k this time around), I often swing between procrastination and binge-writing, and I’ve been working on the same NaNo novel project for years.

Don’t get me wrong, I can totally tap out a 50,000 word standalone draft in a month and have that victorious sense of finality on the 31st (and you can too! It’s all about the golden rule: WRITE EVERY DAY). But this one is my trouble child – I’ve gotten stuck and done rewrites at least 5 times over the years.

So now here I am, starting Camp NaNo 2021 in the climax of my beloved middle grade fantasy manuscript. Woohoo! Day 1 went great – there is something exciting about starting where the action is. But then I got an overwhelming sense that I had already written this scene before.

The feeling wasn’t unusual. My process is to outline as I go, so my document is full of margin comments where I freewrite and ramble about where the plot could head. My writing sessions consist of me staring off into space playing the scene through in my head like a movie, then 10 minutes of vigorously tapping out what occurred, and repeat. So it wasn’t unusual to feel like I was telling a story that had already happened.

But when the feeling wouldn’t go away, I finally clicked through my files…and discovered a second file containing my manuscript. I had one online version and one offline document I used when the Wifi was bad. I hadn’t merged the two, so my instincts were right – I had written the exact same scene before. And the first version was better.

(Cue a slow motion, “Nooo…”)

The thing you have to remember about NaNo is it’s all about getting your words on the page and not judging your writing. Leave that for the editing stage. So for me, this wasn’t a total loss. I had written words. And it was an interesting exercise, because despite the déjà vu, the two scenes turned out very different. When I go back and edit, I’ll take pieces from both versions. But for now, I’ll count the fact that I at least started writing as a win.

TOTAL WORD COUNT CHECK-IN: 651

Daily quote from my manuscript notes: “Should this be a thing? Does she like Sharpies?”

P.S. I’m a Night Owl writer! I write in the evenings, so you’ll see posts about each day of NaNo coming out on the day after. Happy NaNoing!

A COVID-19 NaNoWriMo to Remember!

Welcome back, my lovely Procrastiwrimos! I feel like I was just daily vlogging for July Camp NaNoWriMo, and here I am back again and ready to write.

In true pantser fashion, I have not posted in October with outline ideas or other prep. For whatever reason, what works for me is just sitting down and starting to write. So here I am on National Novel Writing Month Day 1, with a word count of 0 and all of the hopefulness in the world.

I am a huge believer in letting NaNoWriMo be whatever you need it to be.

NaNoWriMo rules I am following this year:

  • Write a novel (this year, a middle grade urban fantasy!)
  • 50,000 word goal
  • Start on November 1st and end on the 30th.

NaNoWriMo rules I will not be following:

  • Start a new project (I am continuing my long-time novel draft in progress)
  • No editing!! (I am usually a big believer in not letting editing slow you down. But because middle grade books are so short and this is already a work in progress, I will end up writing 30,000 in new words, reaching the end of the manuscript, and going back to revise 20,000 words of content for the rest of the month.)

I’ve heard of authors using NaNo to draft, edit, or even to research or free write for their book. It is so easy to simply NOT write, so any kind of writing deserves a celebration.

Back in April, I did StayHomeRhymeMo, where I wrote daily poems about COVID-19. In July Camp NaNoWriMo, I worked on my novel draft (didn’t win Camp NaNo) and posted daily haiku. This November, I’ll be creating daily updates on my progress as I (hopefully!) reach the end of my book’s manuscript. So many people ask me how to create something the length of a novel, stick with it, and not run out of things to say. So this November, I’ll be talking about the daily struggles that come up in my writing, crazy sentences I’ve written, and the unexpected gems I discover along the way of this Procrastiwriter’s journey.

For me, COVID-19 means no in-person NaNoWriMo events or meet-ups this year. If you are writing this month, how has COVID impacted your work? Is it easier or harder to write? Do you find that the state of the world affects the things you write about?

Stay safe and write on! Here’s to a month that I am determined will be the highlight of 2020.

Farewell to Another NaNo: July Camp NaNoWriMo is Over!

Well, that’s it for Camp NaNoWriMo this year! The pandemic has made both the April and July Camp NaNo’s strange ones. It put me in a position where I was spending even more time indoors than I did before, but somehow, it was more difficult to motivate myself than usual. Anyone else feeling that?

While I didn’t “win” Camp NaNo this month, I always come out of the month feeling a little bit changed. It’s as though I see the world more clearly, or at least I’m a little bit more attuned to it. Just like when I read a book, it feels like I’ve experienced things that I didn’t do in real life.

So what’s next for me? I’m going to try to get back to and maintain some sort of daily writing schedule. I think it’s the most important thing I can do for my writing this year. As for this blog, I’m taking the next couple months off as usual, but I will be back in October for some NaNoWriMo prep posts (who knows, maybe I won’t be a pantser next time!). And I’ll of course be doing lots of fun daily posting in November.

Until then, let’s keep writing, daydreaming, and slowly making the world a better place…

Final Camp NaNoWriMo haiku:

The writers emerge -
Ink's run out, one month passed by - 
World still beautiful.