Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reporting from #CampNaNoWriMo

Greetings from #CampNaNoWriMo! I'd love to say I'm sitting by an infinity pool sipping on an icy-cold margarita and booking in a massage for the afternoon, but the truth is I'm at work, the fan in my doorway is making a terrible racket, and the only thing vaguely tropical is the office rubber plant (and it's not doing that great in the Albuquerque heat). 

Consequently I've been thinking up a whole array of ways to improve my campsite, as well as my word count (only 460 words yesterday. Me and the rubber plant are wilting together). I decided I could do with some incentives, so here's my plan for the rest of the month:
  1. Treats. We all need some delicious snacks every now and then. What do you usually deny yourself, but would love to indulge in? In my case I'm heading to my local French bakery and splurging on some fancy little cakes. They cost the earth, but they're perfect for a once-in-a lifetime writing session tea break.
  2. Get outside a lot more. Yes, it's hot during the day, but in the evening or early morning my backyard is lovely. I should be out there more often, away from the fans and indoor stuffiness. For a change of scene I can also visit a park, nature reserve, or shady garden for a weekend field trip. Let's go!
  3. Speaking of field trips . . .  Writing in a museum, art gallery, mall, or somewhere you've never been before is a great way to shake up the muse, sometimes in life-changing ways. I remember one year going with my elementary school Bible camp to Forest Lawn Cemetery for the day. In retrospect I'm not sure that would be my first choice for a group of ten-year-olds, but it was a trip I'll never forget. It's also managed to work its way as both a setting and plot point into several of my manuscripts.
  4. Camp clothes. Fact: I write best when I'm dressed in my sloppiest clothes. The more comfortable I am, the easier it is for me to get into that creative place beyond time and space. Still, it would be nice to have a dedicated camp outfit that reminds me to stay on track: a special T-shirt in particular. Shopping as a field trip? You bet!
  5. Arts and crafts. It's important to take a break from writing, but without worrying that you're wasting time or losing valuable word-counts. My solution is to work in a "Camp Art Journal." I'm collaging and painting my manuscript themes, characters, and plot lines, as well as recording my thoughts and emotions about camp into a new journal. It gives me some necessary down-time while continuing to stay focused.
  6. Library books and visits. I love to get out of the heat by diving into some air-conditioned library research. Subjects I can only discover by perusing the shelves has always helped shift my writing into new and often surprising places. This month has found me engrossed with a biography of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, with more books stacked up for later reading on the art and history of China.
  7. Midnight feasts. When I was seven a cousin introduced me to the concept of the midnight feast. I had no idea what she meant, but boy, was I determined to try it out. I have a vague memory of waking up for a few minutes to eat a sandwich before promptly falling asleep again, but as grown-ups we can stay up way later than our usual bedtimes. Sometime before the month is over I want to set up a cozy writing nook for some late-night pages and feasting.
  8. Campfires. Campfires and storytelling have gone together from the beginning of time. If you have a fire pit or similar in your backyard, now's the chance to use it for some writerly inspiration. Currently I don't have the luxury of a log fire crackling away in the great outdoors, but I realized I can create the same ambience with candles grouped in the fireplace, or set up on a safe and sturdy table. There's something magical about writing to the glow of dancing flames, especially at midnight!
  9. Write postcards home. Be your own best friend and send yourself some encouragement. I love buying postcards when I travel for art references, but I almost never write on them. This month I'm going to jot down my thoughts on some of my favorite cards and then put them away in an envelope "mailbox" for whenever I need some extra motivation.
  10. Set a timer. I always find 20-30 minutes to be a good length of time for individual writing sessions, and this month is no exception. Once the bell rings I try to take an equal amount of time to stretch, walk, and have a cold drink. After all, this is vacation writing, not homework.
  11. Whirligigs. You know, gel pens in 24 colors, rubber stamps, glitter glue, gold paper clips--whatever makes the writing seem more fun than actually writing and tricks me into playing with words--I'll use it.
  12. Farewell gifts--to you! Decisions, decisions. What will you give yourself for sticking to an entire month of writing and reaching your 50K goal? I don't know what I'm getting yet, but I'm open to suggestion. Whatever you choose for yourself, I hope it will forever remind you of a happy month of writing camp.
Tip of the Day: What would summer be without a picnic? The next time you go on your writing field trip, pack a lunch, eat outside, and soak up the scenery. Be sure to use some or all of it in your story!