Camp Pep: Do What’s Right for You

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant Juliana Xavier offers you some advice for your second week of Camp:

Dear Wrimos of NaNo past, present and future,

As we continue the second session of Camp this year, many of us are already freaking out at what’s to come. Heck, I’m currently writing this from the not so distant past (July 1st, in fact), and already I want to scurry back to bed to sleep away the winter (I’m in Brazil).

It’s a lot of pressure to keep yourself working non-stop for a month of creative endeavors… and on top of that, you definitely didn’t set up a bunch of unrealistic expectations, right?

Right?

But according to popular belief, unrealistic expectations (among other anxiety- and depression-inducing things) are exactly how content creators should create. “Suffer for your art,” they say!

I shout back, “Nay!” We need not suffer to create great things.

Let’s backtrack: During last November’s NaNo session, I wrote the novel that I want to nurture and carry to full term in the next 9 months (sure, let’s go with that analogy). With that in mind, I decided to use April and July’s session as a way to work on a second and third draft of said novel.

I’ve been away from Camp since 2013 and was pleasantly surprised to discover the new ways I could track progress; through the classic word count or via hours, minutes, or even lines or pages (this is important).

Thing is, right before April’s camp session, my life became a bit of a Greek tragedy. Desperately looking for a way to not let myself fall apart, I dove head first into writing, fully expecting to hit pavement instead of water. Thankfully, it was the latter, and I clocked a whooping 164 hours of writing in April.

If you think that’s excessive, so do I.

By mid-April I was already starting to burn out with writing. Because past me was too lazy to deal with my mental health properly, present me is now so desperate that everything seems dire.

Unrealistic expectations for July’s camp: Third draft go!

Reality: *internally screaming* Deadlines are imminent! Death is imminent! A terrible draft is imminent, give up now!

In my desperation to return to April’s peak productivity, I’ve started badgering my friends for multivitamins as if that was some sort of cure for burnout. Speaking of, got any vitamin D tablets on ya?

How am I supposed to rise like a phoenix for a second month of writing, when I feel so unmotivated to push through the gross death ashes of my ongoing burnout?

Well… that’s why Camp is so important:

“Small steps and tiny progress is still progress.”

Tracking my progress in hours instead of word count allows me to see my progress even if I originally wouldn’t count it as such. Time you spend fleshing out characters, unraveling messy plot lines and world building? It all matters.

Sure, I leveraged my pain to create; but maybe I could have had two good months of writing, instead of an excessive one in April, and what’s so far shaping up to be an anxiety-inducing one in July.

Sometimes we are just not all there, and it’s ok not to be hyper productive all the time. If you shoulder the weight of the world, you’ll only add more to your pain. What feels great now might be terrible for you later on. Small steps and tiny progress is still progress.

Rome wasn’t built in a day! G.R.R. Martin didn’t write all of The Winds of Winter in a month! In fact, it’s not even done yet. If he can take years to write his story, so can you. (And remember that you can change your goal during Camp if it doesn’t feel right for you!)

Take care of your health and do what’s write (ha) for you.

Signed,

Your friendly neighborhood Wrimo participant.


Juliana Xavier is a writer, illustrator and sequential artist. SCAD alumna, all about that kid lit. Brazilian born but partially American grown. Works as a freelance artist and would love to draw your fantasy maps and book covers. Coffee is ok (gasp!) but Thai bubble tea is the real MVP. You can find her on her portfolio website, twitter, patreon, and ko-fi page. For inquiries, feel free to e-mail her at hey@juliejubz.com

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from postscapes on Flickr.