Thursday, July 11, 2013

Writing and Finishing Things and Camp NaNoWriMo (Rachel)

As some of you may already know, Megan and I are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I love writing. It's one of my favorite things to do, and my dream is to write books for a living one day. And I'd say that I've done quite a bit of writing during the past few years. I have a ton of short stories and beginnings of novels and half-finished drafts. I can't even begin to tell you how many book ideas and characters I have floating around in my head. Some of them have made it onto a piece of paper or computer screen, and others are still in my head, where they'll stay unless I suddenly feel the urge to pull them out and start writing about them.

I love starting books. I've started so many of them, and I love the beginning of a story when you're trying to figure out who the characters are, and you're not exactly sure why you're writing this or what's going to happen or where the story will go. That's my favorite thing about writing, probably.

My problem is that I never finish anything.

Seriously. Out of all the documents on my computer that contain drafts of books, not a single one of them has a beginning, middle, AND an end. It might have one or two, but never all three. I always find myself unable to continue with a story. I have a million excuses. I say that I'm just not feeling the story anymore or I don't have time to write it or I don't like it anymore or some new and shiny idea came along and it's way better. But none of these excuses justify the fact that I never finish anything.

So this year, for Camp NaNoWriMo, my goal is to actually finish something.

In November, the book I started writing was...different from all the other books I'd started. Something about it felt really special to me, and it was the first idea I've had that I've really seen a ton of potential in. For example, the draft of the half-finished novel I wrote during my first NaNoWriMo was something that, when I revisited it a few months later, I didn't like at all. There were so many problems with it, and I realized I had no desire to finish it anytime soon. I could maybe see myself completely rewriting it one day, but as of right now, I'd rather not even look at it.

But the book from November (the working title is Red, by the way. I'll call it that from now on) was totally different. I had every intention of finishing the draft after NaNoWriMo ended and I'd hit 50,000 words. But then school kind of got in the way, and I spent December through June in a state of constant stress because of school. I was in a really bad place, and any writing I would have done during that time period would have reflected just how bad and stressed and unhappy I was feeling, and I feel like I could have ruined any possibility of ever finishing the book if I had tried to write it during that time.

But then summer came along, and I opened up my draft of Red and started reading it. It had been such a long time since I'd last looked at it, so it almost felt like I was reading someone else's novel for the first time. And as I was reading, I found that I was...enjoying it. I mean, there were a ton of mistakes and things I would need to change and revise and make better, but for the most part, I liked Red. I thought it was good. I was proud of it. And I realized that I wanted to actually finish it.

Usually, when I read something I wrote a few months ago, I just cringe at how terrible it is. What was Past Me thinking?! I always say. This sucks! So Red was one of the first things that stood the test of time. I'm actually sort of grateful that I didn't look at it or try to finish it for so long. The time away from it was good for me. I forgot about it and moved on, and when I finally read it again, I was looking at it through fresh eyes. The fact that I still liked the story and where I was going with it means that there's something special about this book, and I want to continue writing it.

So that brings me to Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm participating in it for the first time this year, and my goal is to finish this draft. By the end of July, I hope to have written "the end" and for the first time in my life, finished a first draft of a book. I feel like I love the story and the characters and my vision of this book enough to actually finish it, and I don't think I'll fail. Even if I don't finish it all this month, I think I'll definitely be motivated enough to finish it sometime soon.

Once I finish the draft, I want to go back and revise it. And then revise it again. And again. As many times as it takes, because I already know there are a ton of things I'll need to fix. And then I want to give the book to my friends, who are dying to read some of my writing, but only when I'm really proud of it. And then, after that, I don't really know what I'll do. My goal with this book is to get it to a place where I feel like it's finished. If that means writing a bunch of different drafts, then okay. And when I finally say that I'm finished? Well, then I'll probably do nothing. It will probably just sit on my computer, gathering metaphorical dust as I move on to write other new things. But it will be finished. I'll know that I'm capable of actually writing a book. And that's really all I want.

(Although, now it looks like Red WON'T actually be finished and it might need a sequel. So. Yeah. Um, I wasn't really planning on a sequel, but okay then. We'll see how this goes.)

Feel free to leave encouraging words and virtual chocolate and tissues and hugs in the comments. Finishing this draft is probably going to be a long and emotional journey, and I can only hope that it will end with me running around my house to the Rocky theme song.


  1. I'm rooting for you! Even if, when you finish Red, you and your friends are the only ones who see it, you'll have finished a book NOW, which is a huge headstart on someone like me. I've never finished writing a book either, and I'm 27--and it's anybody's guess whether the project I'm working on now will actually be done by the time I turn 28 in September. As much as I'd like to think this book could get me an agent and a publishing deal, realistically I know it's unlikely that that will happen with my very first finished project. By the time you're my age, you'll have finished who-knows-how-many, which means you'll be a much more polished writer, smarter about your own process, and more knowledgeable about your craft. I can't wait to run across your work in a bookstore someday--which is why I'm cheering you on this summer! Best of luck!

    1. Good luck with your writing! Hopefully we'll both have finished projects sometime soon. :)
      Thanks so much for your support!

  2. You go, Rachel! I'm so excited for you because you're totally going to finish Red and that is such a HUGE accomplishment. I, on the other hand, am not doing so good but after reading this (and coming up with my third idea an hour earlier), I'm totally motivated to hit my goal of 50 000 words. There's nothing like reading other people's success stories to get you all fired up! Can't wait to see you finish Red and hopefully, I'll be able to get my hands on it one day! :)

    1. I'm glad I managed to motivate you to reach your goal! :) I wish you the best of luck with your writing!
      And thank you so much for the kind words. I'm smiling at my computer screen right now. :)