Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 Week 1 Recap

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According to my profile page I discovered NaNoWriMo back in 2011, but I’ve never participated before. I can give several excuses why: it generally clashed badly with university work, I remembered too late and hadn’t planned enough, I forgot and now I’ve already missed a few days,… but to be brutally honest mostly it was a lack of will.

This April however, my PhD is pretty much done, and I’m sitting at home in quarantine, and I can’t keep hiding behind excuses so I was going to have to try it or admit that I’d been lying to myself all these years.

I still have a few things left to occupy my days and I decided to take it easy for my first try, so I set a goal for 30 000 words by the end of April, or 1 000 words a day. Less than the 1 667 words that make up the full 50 000 NaNoWriMo, but maybe I’ll give that a go for the real thing and not the camp.

I’ve been posting daily word count updates on twitter (@SamPHassell), but I thought I’d do a weekly recap here, where I’m not worried about character limits. One thing is for sure, in these days of exponential graphs everywhere my current word count graph is far less intimidating…

Day 1

Day one was my best day so far with 1 303 words. I was feeling good, I had done some high level planning the week before, so I was raring to go and was able to put out my first scene easily. It was surprisingly eye-opening to realise that I could put of more than a thousand words without too much work and with only high-level planning prep. It felt soooo good. I wrote what I initially thought might be the first scene in the book, but which I quickly realised would be a bit further in (or at least it will for now, there’s probably going to be a lot of shuffling about later on in the revision process). The writing wasn’t good admittedly, I’m pretty sure that very little of what I wrote will survive the editing process later, but so far I’m just going full steam ahead and getting things down on the page. Actual quality will be a job for later.

Day 2

1 087 words. A considerable drop in word count (- 16% !) but still above my daily goal and I’m not really looking for more than that. I don’t want to try and write a load in one day and feel burnt out afterwards. I’m trying to find my feet and really set up a regular schedule of writing, once I’m more in the groove I’ll see about trying to put out more or maybe do more timed writing sessions rather than a number of words. Again, major revision needed, but as this is the case for all of what I’m writing I’ll only point it out in future for really major cases of super F-ups on my part. Day two was also the moment that I finally figured out a plot point in the shower than had been niggling me for the past week.

Day 3

1001 words. I’m slightly disappointed about writing one word too many, it would have been more impressive to have been spot on but ah well. Again, another drop in the number of words but that was also the day that I wrote my last blog post which floated somewhere around 2 000 words and took up a fair amount of the free time I had in the day to write. While it wasn’t a major day in terms of word count it was a good day for learning about my characters and notably my main character. Who he was and what he’d been doing lately, where his boundaries were and what his goals and ambitions in life are, the essential nuts and bolts of writing a decent story, so at the end of the day I was pretty satisfied with the progress made. Also, if you were following my daily updates on Twitter then I wrote day 2 in my post rather than day 3, must have been tired when writing that one.

Day 4

1142 words. The first day when my word count was better than the previous. Compared to the previous days I also wrote later. During the first three days I had been writing pretty early on in the day, late morning and midday, generally before eating, so that it was done, and I was sure that I’d have the time to write. Day 4 however I was busy with life and left it late. The words still flowed easily enough which was reassuring but I must admit that I didn’t feel as comfortable in the flow.

Day 5

1290 words. It was a weird one, I didn’t get one long writing session but several of little ones cut up during the day. I made good progress, almost reaching my word count of day 1, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I didn’t feel happy with the writing being cut up, didn’t really get into the flow until the end of the very last session by which time I had to stop. The interruptions meant that the story wasn’t clear in my mind and I was never sure what I was actually meant to be writing at any given time, so despite the uptick in word count I can’t say that I really had fun with it.

Day 6

975 words. Day 6 was rough as hell. I was feeling very down in the dumps, I was tired after doing the grocery shopping for the next two weeks (not something I’m used to as we generally did small shops concentrating on fresher ingredients before quarantine) and I’d spent the day trying to work with little if any success on the revisions of a research article. In the end I only got round to starting to write at about half-past ten on the night and somehow pushed out enough words to get close to my goal. It wasn’t particularly good, and it didn’t flow easily, but there was some satisfaction in not giving up, even if I didn’t really feel it at the time.

Day 7

1010 words. Writing session in late afternoon this time, trying to get out of my tardy late-night writing from the previous days but I didn’t quite manage to get to the morning writing period of the first few days. Compared to the weird broken sessions of Sunday and the awful slog that was Monday, Tuesday (Day 7) felt refreshing. One long single writing session in decent spirits. As I wasn’t in as much as a hurry as previous days I decided to concentrate on improving my description work, trying my best to describe where my main character lives, using the different senses, and trying to show what that reveals to us about him. While still quite far from being good I was pleased with the outcome and felt that there was possibly some hope for the rest of the story.


Total words at the end of the week: 7 805 out of 7 000 goal.

Average words per day: 1 115.

Projected date for 30 000 words: April 27.

A mixed week all together. A decent start and finish but a bit of a slog for a couple of days, mainly because of my emotional state those days. I learnt a fair bit about myself, my characters and my plot which is always a fun thing when writing.

For next week, I have no idea where I’m going between where the story currently is and my next planned plot point, so it’s going to be fun figuring out the way there. There might be some jumping about in the story as I try and work out how all the pieces fit together. With a bit of luck I should be able to finish the revision of my current research article by the end of the week, freeing up some time to play around some more with the plot on a higher level.

Stay safe and stay sane,


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