The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

Camp NaNoWriMo – Going Big

This Plan Needs CoffeeOne of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is the way it pushes people to just sit down and write already. With concrete goals and a definite deadline, NaNoWriMo has started many an author down the road to a productive writing life. But there’s one thing about NaNo that bugs the hell out of me.

There’s no focus on actually finishing. Sure, you can bust out your 50k words and grab your badges and shit yeah, son, you done wrote enough words to fill a book.  That’s cool.

But you don’t have an actual book just yet. And getting that book is kind of the whole reason for writing.

This month, I’m going to do Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to finish and, ’cause I’m kinky like that, I’m going to let all of you watch. By August 1, if everything goes according to plan, I’ll have a pair of 25k word novellas written, edited, covered, and published on Amazon for your reading pleasure.  Feel free to cheer from the sidelines or tell me that I’m batshit insane and will suffer the fate of all mooncalves who get too big for their britches.

The best part of all this is that I’m going to provide daily updates with all the steps I’m taking. If I succeed, you’ll have a nice roadmap for a process that worked to get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time. If I fail, my missives from the trenches will serve as grisly signposts for all who find them. Turn back now, motherfucker, is what I imagine they’ll say. And they’ll be narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

It’s my imagination, the budget for VO artists is pretty huge.


I’m finishing up the third Pitchfork County book as we speak, so I wanted to write something a little different. I have a notebook of ideas I want to write someday, so I dove in and rooted around until I found enough raw material to craft a workable idea. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend this notebook right here: Hobonichi. The Tomoe paper is delicious to write on and the thing is a perfect size for carting around in your daily carry. Love this thing. Because I’m an insufferable prick about writing instruments, I also love the hell out of the Pilot Vanishing Point which makes me feel at once like an old school literary dilettante and a spy with a pen built for stabbing people in the neck.

I thought about wasting my whole evening (because I can’t write at my day job, no matter how much I beg and plead) just cogitating on the idea. But after a couple of hours rolling it around in my mental mouth, it felt all smooth and spherical and tingly like a ball bearing made out of uranium so I got down to the business of plotting. Overachievers, unite!

There are a few books on plotting that I think are so sharp they’ll cut out your eyes if you don’t read them appropriate respect.

I use a combination of the principles in all three of these books to plot my books now. It’s a fast, clean process that gets me to the core of my story very quickly. As of right now, I have the story core in shape, I know who my characters are, and tomorrow I’ll be ready to start getting the scenes aligned.


Now that my story idea is nailed down and I’ve got the basics of my story core and characters ready to rock and roll, tomorrow I’m going to punch up the plotting for serious. By the end of tomorrow, the first book will be fully plotted and there’s a chance I will have written some words.

Elsewise, I’m going to be way the hell behind before I even get started.

Looking Ahead

As I mentioned above, I have a day job. And it’s a more-than-full-time gig with deadlines and project plans and the many things that threaten my writer’s soul at every turn. I also have a wife and some daughters and a dog and apparently some guinea pigs are flying in to join the festivities. Any or all of these things could ram an ice pick straight through the brain of my carefully woven plan to publish two novellas this month. I also rely on some folks for beta reading, editing, cover design, and miscellaneous awesome and scheduling all these moving pieces might blow up in my face.

In other words, you may be watching a train wreck in action.

But that’s cool, too. If I fail, you can at least see where I fucked up and make sure you avoid that particular death trap.

And if I succeed that means that any dickhead with half an idea and the will to write could do this, too.

Let’s see what happens!


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.