How I failed Camp NaNo without feeling like a failure

So, April was Camp NaNoWriMo. And this I participated… again.

It was, in fact, the fourth time I’ve done a NaNo Project, and like the previous four times, I cannot claim the victory of validation, BUT (and this is a big but) I cannot feel like a failure.Camp-Participant-2015-Facebook-Profile

Let me tell you about my previous attempts. My first NaNo I did okay, and then my gall bladder decide it was through with me. So instead of writing I writhed in misery in a hospital room. At the July camp, I just flat-out failed. I joined a public cabin, never checked the boards and never really applied myself (this is a common theme you’ll find among my elementary school report cards, btw.) Then, last November, I just gave up. I was going to write, but instead I revised and it was probably the better choice. My MS did look much snazzier afterward.

The Best Cabin of the Year

So, that brings us to March, just before Camp. I decided I was going to make it fun, no matter what happened. This time, I was going to stack the deck in my favor. Instead of a public cabin, instead of hiding in a corner and wishing I was somewhere interesting, I started collecting my awesome writer friends. Most came from Twitter, some came from Facebook, but in the end we had a cabin full of awesome!

Don’t believe me! Go check the #Cabin81 twitter feed. That’s right. We were chatting so much on the board that we decided to add our own hashtag to the mix. It was supposed to be a group of people who held each other accountable, but it became something more. It became a group that supported each other in personal problems and in writing problems, and when people started validating, became CPs! We checked each other’s pitches during the early contests and swapped actual MSs at the end!

The best part is that it wasn’t just me! I can’t claim much more than loudly begging for people to hang out with me on a different social network for a month. By the end, it felt like their victories were mine, and made it totally worthwhile.

Enough Progress

Now, to my actual WIP. Well, turns out, I didn’t really intend on “winning”. In fact, I set myself a highly unreasonable goal. Because artificial goals don’t work for me. Also, I’m not a big fan of breaking or even bending the rules to pretend I won. There’s no victory in that for me.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.14.17 AMBut, Camp is Camp, so I had to put something in, and what I put in was my overall WIP word count goal. In the graphic on the left, you’ll see that I didn’t get even remotely near my goal. I started the month with about 20K written and ended the month with over 40K written. This, for me, was more than enough, because, as you’ll notice, there was regular progress during that month.

I also threw in my overall cabin’s numbers to show you that, yes, we didn’t achieve all our goals as a group, but there was progress. EVERY DAY.

That’s what it’s about, building habits, focusing on the end goal. Doing what’s right. I’m a pantser, and I hit a couple serious snags with the story and where I was taking it. Those days you see me not writing, those are days I probably spent MORE time on my writing, not less. Because not everything in this business is about word count, it’s about telling an awesome story.

And one thing I can assure you is that this Camp, Cabin 81 created some great stories!