One more day until Camp NaNo ends, but it’s the last Friday of the month so you’re getting a Camp NaNo review for this year. How about that? I can already say I didn’t complete my goal of writing 130 sprints because so much has happened this month, 130 was a stretch even before the month started. So yeah… My planning skills need more work. But I did get a lot done, especially considering everything.
Since my energy supply is still extremely limited, anything that disrupts a regular day will take up a large portion of my available juices. I got my first Pfizer shot at the end of June, and I was still feeling the side effects at the beginning of July. While it didn’t have much impact on my word count, my overall mental state was still on the lower side. Two weeks later I got a migraine, and while I’m very familiar with all kinds of headaches, having a migraine is still a new experience. I’m still trying to find what works best for me and how I can get rid of it the fastest. But that one did have a big effect on my word count. I didn’t write for days because looking at a screen only aggravated my brain.
We also wanted to do a small renovation of our living. That meant lots of cleaning, moving furniture, and taking apart a few furniture pieces. That alone can cost me more energy than I have available for the day. But I pushed through, and I pay for it later.
As I was recovering from the migraine, my brain found a sparkle, a hidden plotline in my story. I wrote it down quickly and then went on to rewrite the whole story in my head. But I couldn’t rewrite the draft because that meant looking at a screen. That sucked, wanting to write, but not really being able to in a productive way. It did give me more motivation to keep going and I quickly started when my brain felt good enough.
As I’m writing this I’m nowhere near the 50k I had imagined for my book. Or the 40k I wanted my first draft to be at. Thankfully, this is only the zero draft and the most important thing is to have the whole story on the pages. I still haven’t written everything from the hidden plotline so I can about 7k to 10k extra words easily.
But why am I talking about word count when my goal was 130 sprints? I’ll be honest, I’ve tracked 50 sprints. I’ve written a few times without a timer present because I was still in recovery mode and any word written is another one extra. I didn’t have it in me to do focused work. But having written half the expected words in less than half of the expected sprints is pretty good if I may say so. I expected my average word count per sprint to be 400 words, but it’s a bit higher.
The sprints where I didn’t have at least 400 words all had one thing in common: I didn’t know where my story was going. I made index cards with my outline for each chapter with the purpose of the scene, the conflict, what’s going to happen, and which emotions my main character feels. But the details weren’t always as clear. These vague moments led to a lower word count as my brain used more bandwidth to figure it out instead of just telling the story that was happening in my mind.
Doing sprints definitely worked to get more words out per hour (and per sprint). Having a detailed outline also worked because I knew exactly what to write. Every time my word count was below average, it was because I was trying to work out the scene in my head instead of just writing what my card said. I really want to keep working on it and make it a habit.
What I like most about sprints is that I don’t have a word count I need to reach before I’m ‘done’. But because I’m more focused I don’t feel like I’m wasting time either. It would probably help me a lot if I used the Pomodoro method for more than just writing. Or maybe include blog writing. Keeping track of how I spend my time is also helpful for doing reviews like this. I know immediately how long a task took and what to expect for the future.