Camp NaNo Participant badgeOn the 30th July this year, someone asked me, “are you doing camp NaNoWriMo in August?”

My immediate response was no, but then I thought about it for all of two hours and decided, sure, why not. I need a project to get me back into serious writing after the break I’d had. So I signed up and then the question became, what am I going to write?

I have a novel series that I consider to be my primary project, but I’d already decided not to write any new material until I had worked on what I already had a bit more. I considered using the story I had already started planning for NaNoWriMo in November, but I had a fairly solid plan for that, and I still had a lot of outlining I wanted to do before I started writing. So, that left me with the option of attempting the challenge with a brand new, fresh idea.

A genius plan this was not. While I know I can do it, I learned that I cannot make myself do it. I have written 50k and more in a month without an outline before, but it was a project I felt inspired by. The idea I chose to use for Camp NaNo was barely more than a feeling that the characters and world I had used for a short story had more to give. I eventually struggled through 30k.

Can you schedule creativity? It’s a question a lot of authors will likely come across sooner or later. It may be trying to make time in a busy life by allocating that hour before dinner as writing time, or trying to bash out a short story for that submission deadline next week. If you’re lucky it may even be when your publishing contact comes through with a deadline at the top. So far I have been lucky enough to be able to run with my creative whims, but I do not want to be a slave to them.

Is it just a matter of disciplining one’s self, or does the quality of what you produce suffer when you can’t write how and when you want? I have found I often feel less satisfied with the work I plan than the work that flows out on its own, but perhaps that is just my own view of it.

For NaNoWriMo in November, I will be working on a planned, outlined idea and I am setting myself the challenge of completing the re-writes and edits within the following four months. I hope that by the end of it I will better understand myself and whether I can successfully schedule my creativity.

Tell me about your experiences with writing to deadlines and with letting your creativity flow unstructured. Can creativity be scheduled? What techniques have you employed to help you structure and schedule your writing?