Camp NaNoWriMo: am I guaranteed to fail?

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Bolstered by a better than expected start to the year word count wise, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month.

Camp NaNoWriMo is the November challenge’s smaller and possibly less well known cousin, in which you get to choose how much you want to write and what type of project you want to tackle.

Feeling particularly confident the day I signed up, I set myself the goal of writing 30,000 words this April. Which works out at 1000 words a day.

Sounds doable right? It did to me.

Except here we are on day seven of the challenge, by which point I should have written between 7000 and 8000 words.

Reader, I have not written almost 8000 words so far this month.

I have written less than 1500.

Wu wuh.


I mean, I have my reasons for not making anything close to my word count. Spending most of the week furiously spring cleaning the house in preparation for an inspection by the letting agency didn’t help. Nor did the five day migraine that is only just getting down to manageable levels.

As an aside, have you ever tried spring cleaning your house with a migraine? I seriously do not recommend it.

So yeah, there have been one or two things demanding my time and energy this week that aren’t writing. And between them they’ve left me with basically no ability to put words together.

I mean, today is the first day I’ve been able to stomach the idea of looking at my computer, which is where pretty much all my writing happens.

But it’s also possible I’ve been feeling a little intimidated by the goal I set myself.

30,000 words is a fair old collection of letters. And it’s double the amount I’ve been managing each month so far this year. It was ambitious on purpose, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling the fear.

The big question is, what do I do now?

Do I admit defeat because I’m more than 5000 words behind schedule after the first week? Do I throw in the towel and tell myself I’ve already failed so there’s no point in even trying?

Well I could. But where would the fun in that be?

And it would sort of defeat the point of the challenge.

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website, I need to write 1243 words each day for the rest of the month on order to hit my target. That’s not much more than what I originally set myself.

That’s a couple of pretty good writing days to get back on track. And now that the spring cleaning no longer has a terrifyingly imminent deadline, my chances of having a couple of good writing days have massively increased.

I’m just hoping the migraine fucks off and stays fucked off, because seriously, it is interfering with all my plans.

Thing is, it would be so easy to give up at this point. Reasonable almost. I’m so far behind already, what’s the point in trying to catch up?

That’s the traitor brain talking though.

I set myself this challenge to push my limits, to find out where they are. To see what I’m capable of.

This is the first writing challenge I’ve set myself since my mental breakdown last year, and it’s as much about finding what my new baseline is as anything else.

Yeah I’ve done NaNoWriMo proper before, and won. Despite defending my PhD thesis that same month, which I know is ridiculous. But that was the old me. The me who hadn’t been right to the edge of suicide and fought back.

And it’s entirely possible that the me who has been through all that might not be able to manage 30,000 words in a month and that’s fine.

I am a big believer that there is no such thing as failure when it comes to writing challenges like Camp NaNoWriMo. Yeah I might not meet my goal, but I was willing to challenge myself to get there, and that’s pretty cool.

And I might not end up with 30,000 words at the end of the month. I might end up barely making the 15,000 I’ve been managing so far this year. But that’s okay.

As long as I have more words at the end of the month than I did when I started, I’ve won. And I already have words down.

There are still 21 days left of this challenge. That’s 21 opportunities to catch up. 21 opportunities to challenge myself.

It ain’t over til the fat lady sings and I haven’t even warmed up my voice yet.

I can still do this. And it is still worth trying.

And if I can’t, for whatever reason, be that a return of the migraine or life getting in the way or it just being beyond my capabilities right now, that’s okay.

With Camp NaNoWriMo you can edit your target word count up until about day 20 of the challenge, which is also an option if I’m seriously struggling.

But there’s no need to do that just yet. There’s plenty of time to put my head down and write.

I can always re-evaluate my goal later.

So, to answer the question “am I guaranteed to fail?” No, no I’m not. I’ve already won.

And hey, if you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo or some other writing challenge this month, you’ve already won in my eyes too.

So try what I’m gonna try: put the numbers out of your mind, relax and have fun.

That’s why we got into writing on the first place, right?

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