The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

Camp NaNoWriMo – Go Big – Day 4

Go Big - A Camp NaNoWriMo Adventure - Day 4First off, to all my American readers, I hope you had a great Fourth of July. I spent most of my time either writing or parked in front of my Big Green Egg grilling up some delicious meats. I have an unhealthy love for cooking with fire . If it involves thick slabs of red meat and fire, then I am all the way fucking in. I find it to be more than just cooking, and I talked about that a little bit over on Instagram. You might like it. Or not. Whatever.

Before I get into regaling you with my adventures in word count, I want to talk a little bit about independence.

I’ve always been passionate about writing. I’ve spent more hours hidden away with a notebook or a typewriter or a laptop than I could even begin to count. I wrote my first short story the day after I saw Star Wars for the first time. And, yes, my story had light sabers and wookies and TIE fighters. It had Jedi Knights, but it also had the other kind of knights right alongside them. I probably wrote 100 stories that summer and all of them were some variation of Star Wars meets Conan. I remember the excitement of discovering that I didn’t have to wait for the next movie, I can tell my own stories.

Of course, all of these stories sucked and I’m kind of glad that they’ve been lost to the mists of time.

But what I didn’t lose is the drive to keep telling stories. I wrote stories in school. I wrote stories in my journals. I scribbled stories on every blank piece of paper I could find for as long as I can remember. And unless I needed them for a school assignment, I never showed those early scribbles to anyone. I wrote them for me. I wrote them to get better at at writing an at understanding why some stories work and others are as stinky as dog poop on a graham cracker. I wrote them because I thought one day they could be my ticket to freedom.

While writing today, I couldn’t help but think about my early dreams of authorial independence and how that dream is closer now than ever before. For all of us. We live in a time and place where it’s easier than ever to put your words in front of people and to get paid for doing it. All of us, if we’re willing to put in the work, can build a bridge of words that will carry us from whatever life we might be living right now into a new one. No matter what happens to the algorithms or the programs or the way we sell our books, we will always have that chance to build a new independence for ourselves. We can use our words to reshape our world into one of our own choosing.

My pen is my light saber. The Internet is my X-Wing.

Let’s do this.

DAY FOUR: More Words! (But I missed it by that much)

Yesterday, I went to bed with the plan to write 5000 words today. Then I got up and thought that that was kind of a chickenshit goal and maybe I have a stretch a little bit. I decided to try to get halfway through my first novella. That meant I needed about 7 1/2 thousand words. That’s a pretty good chunk of vowels and consonants. And there was a holiday during which I was going to spend some time hanging out with the family and dancing around the fire while I cooked the meat, so there was that to consider. My stretch goal might have been just a teensy bit ambitious.

And yet, I almost made it. Not quite (I fell 225 words short of the mark) but it was a good goddamned try. I feel a little twinge of guilt that I didn’t get all the words, and that’s one of the issues I’m working on with my writing headspace. Some days, you just get close to the finish line. You don’t quite make the goal that you set for yourself. Sometimes, it’s even your fault. Maybe you spent just a little bit too long playing Arkham Knight or World of Warcraft and you didn’t manage to write all the words before it was time to tuck yourself into your wee little bad.

I’m not saying that’s all right. If you’re playing video games when you know you should be writing then you’re kind of fucking things up for yourself. But creativity doesn’t always come pouring out of your brain faucet just because there are words that need to be written. Sometimes your day job fucks up your plans. Sometimes there’s an emergency (or what one of your daughters thinks is an emergency because she doesn’t have a shirt with a flag on it that she can wear to watch fireworks) and that cuts into your writing time. All of that shit sucks. Anything that keeps you from getting words on the page sucks.

But there’s no point in beating yourself to a pulp over it. You fell short. We all do at one time or another. Take your demerit for the day and figure out where you screwed up and what you can do to fix it. Don’t dwell on your failure. Dwell on the plan that will help you avoid the same mistake in the future.

For example, I missed my word count for today because I thought it would be all right if I sat at the kitchen table and wrote on my AlphaSmart while my family watched cheesy horror movies in the living room. What I should’ve done was spend more time using my dictation set up to knock out the words earlier in the day. That’s my bad, but I know how to fix it and hopefully I won’t be a dumbass about my process again.


I’m going to get my ass out of bed a little earlier and head down to the coffee shop to bang out some words early in the morning. It’s a Sunday, and I don’t like to work at all on Sunday night. It’s my time for chilling with my wife and kids and watching True Detective. Yes, I know, this year sucks compared to last year. I keep hoping it’s going to get better.

Anyway, I’m shooting for a solid 5K tomorrow. If I can get more than that, I’ll be ec-fucking-static.

If I can get 7.5k it’ll be tequila shots for everyone.

Looking Forward

As I mentioned before, I’m staring down the barrel of a particularly ugly stretch of Day Job stuff. It has the potential to really fuck up my writing schedule at some point in the future, so it’s absolutely critical that I hammer out as many words as possible as quickly as possible during July. Yeah I can lose a couple hundred words here and there, but if I have a dreaded Zero Day, there’s a good chance I’m going to be completely screwed. I have to keep my head screwed on straight and my eyes on the prize.

Glide Path

I am a little short of one quarter of the way through the writing with a little more than three weeks left in the month. Looks good. Especially considering I know in the next few days I’ll be hammering out a lot of words.

I got this.

I hope.

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.