Writing update | second draft, July Camp NaNoWriMo, and dragons

It has been over two months since my last writing update (how??) so now seems like a good time to talk about what I’ve been working on since then.

Quick recap: I wrote the first draft of a novel last year. I started revising it earlier this using using Susan Dennard’s Revision Guide. In my last update, I was nearing the end of figuring out everything that needed to be fixed before finally implementing changes. There, over a year’s worth of work summed up in three sentences!

Since last time, I finished marking down all the changes I needed to make and moved on to properly revising around the beginning on May. And that’s basically what I’ve been doing ever since!

What I’m working on now

I spent my spring going through my manuscript, locating every single flaw I could find, and deciding how to fix it. From that process, I ended up with a stack of notecards, one for each scene, with the changes that needed to be made marked with sticky notes. Right now, the challenge is actually making those changes.


My process for this is to write in changes on my printed out manuscript in pen, using the notecards for reference, which means lots of marking up. By this point, I’ve already gone through three pens and I’m less than halfway through the manuscript.


It took me a while to realize this, but I’m making so many changes that I’m essentially writing a second draft of my novel. It’s rare that I leave a sentence untouched and I often find myself completely rewriting entire scenes or chapters. Whenever there’s a part that needs to be added in that’s longer than what I can fit in the margins, I write it on a separate piece of notebook paper. And so far I’m up to 70 handwritten pages of add-ins.

At this point, I’ve revised 138 pages of my 321 page manuscript. This also means I’ve crossed off 38 of the 81 squares on the chapter tracker taped above my desk. Most of that was in May, since I barely wrote at all in June. But I’m determined to get back into it in July!

The pros of this process: It’s satisfying to finally see this story come together in a way that’s close to how I imagined it! Even though I’m still not totally happy with how every scene comes out, I can tell that it’s miles better than how it was before.

The cons: This process is often agonizingly slow. I’ll work for an hour and realize that I’ve only revised a half a page, and then I’ll go complain about it to whichever family member is closest to me at the time. (Shoutout to my family for not rolling their eyes at me every time I do this.) I rarely get through more than one scene a day. But still…it’s progress, right??

Funny Baby Alexis writing a letter on Make a GIF


Camp NaNoWriMo

As part of my effort to get more seriously back into writing in July, I have joined Camp NaNoWriMo! This challenge is an offshoot of November’s NaNoWriMo, which encourages you to set your own writing goal during the month of July and aim for that. If you’re also doing Camp NaNo this month, feel free to add me as a buddy!

Since I’m not necessarily working on adding words to my manuscript, I’m measuring my progress in time spent working instead. Camp NaNo no longer gives you the option to track your minutes, so I’m doing things a bit unusually this time. I set my goal for 1800 words, which in my case translates to 1800 minutes, or 60 minutes a day. Every minute of writing or revising that I do is added to my “word count.” So essentially, I’m trying to write for an hour each day.

It’s not an impossible goal, and I’ve certainly managed to do much more than that in the past. But my motivation these days is hitting record lows, so we’ll see how this goes. As of yesterday, July 5, I was on track at 305 minutes (above yesterday’s goal of 290), but my writing so far has been anything but consistent. Once I actually sit down and start working, it’s not too bad, but finding the motivation to do that these days is rough.

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 9.04.05 AM

What’s next?

Well, we’ll see how far I’m able to get by the end of July! I doubt I’ll be anywhere near the end of this draft/revision, so I’m sure this process will carry on into August or perhaps even further. But eventually, I will have made all the changes I set out to make.

When I move on to typing in those changes, which I guess will be my third draft, I want to focus more on voice. That’s something that’s fallen by the wayside a bit in the first two drafts, but I envision my narrator, Nat, as quite a voicey character and I want that to come through more clearly. But that’s still a long way off!


Since my WIP is about dragons, I thought I’d waste more time by rating some of the fictional dragons that I  know of. Okay, ready go!

Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon: 10000/10, perfect baby, flawless, irreplaceable

Toothless how to train your dragon dragon GIF - Find on GIFER

Ran and Shaw from Avatar: the Last Airbender: 9/10, simultaneously terrifying and good at dancing

Dragons Avatar GIF - Dragons Avatar TheLastAirbender - Discover ...

Norberta the Norwegian Ridgeback from Harry Potter: 6/10, smol bab but gone too soon

norwegian ridgeback | Tumblr

The Hungarian Horntail from Harry Potter: 8/10, did nothing wrong, was only trying to protect her egg!!!

hungarian horntail | Tumblr

The Ukrainian Ironbelly from Harry Potter: 7/10, flying to freedom I’m so proud! Also gone too soon.

ukrainian ironbelly | Tumblr

Nayimathun from The Priory of the Orange Tree10/10, I cry every day that I don’t have my own dragon to ride through the sea and sky tbh

nayimathun | Tumblr

Smaug from The Hobbit: 7/10, might be 100% evil but HE LOOKS COOL AF

That Fanfic Stuff — Not so Bad - Smaug

Dragon from Shrek6/10, pretty lady, -4 for marrying a donkey sorry

Shrek, Fiona And Donkey Escape From The Dragon GIF | Gfycat

The Dragon from Uprooted: 1/10, not actually a dragon??? Disappointing.

22544764. sx318

Haku from Spirited Away10/10. Beautiful. Majestic. We mere mortals can only hope to be a fraction as graceful and elegant.

Ghibli GIF by Spirited Away - Find & Share on GIPHY

Tea dragons from The Tea Dragon Society: 1000/10, I would die for a tea dragon of my own??? look at these tiny cuties??? 😭

The Tea Dragon Society (Tea Dragon, #1) by Katie O'Neill

Mushu from Mulan: 100/10, his sense of humor was formative and I can be found quoting him daily

You just did it hehehe on We Heart It



Do I know or care at all about enneagram types? Not at all! But did I spend way too much time finding the perfect song from Sleeping At Last’s Enneagram album to represent each of my main characters? Oh, absolutely.

  • Nat: Three
    • And I finally see myself through the eyes of no one else / It’s so exhausting on this silver screen / Where I play the role of anyone but me
  • Joss: Eight
    • I’m standing guard, I’m falling apart / And all I want is to trust you / Show me how to lay my sword down / For long enough to let you through
  • Elliot: Two
    • Tell me, is something wrong? If something’s wrong, you can count on me / You know I’ll take my heart clean apart if it helps yours beat
  • Austin: Seven
    • A secret handshake between me and my one life / I’ll find the silver lining no matter what the price


Are you working on any writing projects right now? How is that going? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

x Margaret

goodreads | twitter

31 thoughts on “Writing update | second draft, July Camp NaNoWriMo, and dragons

  1. I love reading your posts about your wip!! it makes me so excited for you 🙂 good luck on camp nanowrimo haha.

    also. amazing list of dragons. that made me so happy (predictably)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Margaret!!
    Great job on revisions so far! That’s awesome that you’re so organized with your note cards. I love that they are colour-coded too and that you cross off cards/scenes that you’ve completed 🙂 I also love Toothless and Mushu (slightly sad when I heard that Mushu won’t be in the remake though…)
    That’s great that you’re doing Camp Nano too 🙂 It’s been a hectic week so I am pretty far behind on my progress but hoping to catch up soon.
    Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Sophie! Haha yep, crossing off scenes when I finish revising is so satisfying 😀
      Toothless and Mushu are the best, and I’m so disappointed about the lack of Mushu in the Mulan movie!
      I’m quite behind on my Camp NaNo progress too, but hopefully we’ll both be able to catch up soon! Good luck, and happy writing to you too ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m taking part in NaNo this month too! I have a goal of 30k words which I hope I can easily achieve, I’m on track so far! I’m working on a ‘zero’ draft of my WIP – I don’t know much about it so I’m just jumping back and forth between the three acts, filling things in and exploring new things so its turning out to be a fun draft because its very messy and full of placeholders and I don’t mind it haha (but after this I’m going to have to write my *real* first draft which I’ve never been good at so yeah 😂)
    Good luck with your revisions! The organisational geek in me loves the idea of all those flashcards and notes but it does look a bit exhausting and intimidating at the same time 😂 I’m glad your novel is coming along!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck with your Camp NaNo goal!! 30k sounds like a wonderful goal, and I love the idea of zero-drafting to get all your ideas out. Tbh any type of draft is hard, so I’d say any progress you manage is impressive 😀
      Ahaha thanks! It might be slightly over-organized, but at least it keeps my thoughts in order! Best of luck to you too ❤


  4. Good luck with Camp NaNo and with your revisions!
    It was really interesting reading about your revision process, as revision is something that really scares me! I have two different finished manuscripts, but I never seem to get around to editing them, because I never have any idea where to start! I might take a look at that revision guide and try and start revisions soon, but right now I’m working on a new project for Camp NaNo.
    Awesome dragon list by the way! I pretty much love anything where there’s dragons! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Hah, yep, revision is really intimidating for me too. But I definitely recommend Susan Dennard’s guide, because it helped me wrap my mind around the whole process for the first time! Good luck with your project as well 😀


  5. Congrats on getting this far with your WIP! Your editing methods sound like they would be very effective! What matters the most is that you’re making a good amount of progress, and hey, writing a second draft is really important!

    I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo too, and it’s my first time! 🙂 I’m aiming for 30,000 words to finish the WIP I’ve been working on for a few years, so hopefully I’ll be able to complete the 1st draft by the end of July.

    I loved your dragon ratings! That part actually inspired me to finally read The Tea Dragon Festival, and to remember how much I love those dragons and the series. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Xandra! ❤ Ahh good luck with your Camp NaNo goal 😀 30k sounds like a wonderful goal, and I wish you luck with finishing your WIP. That's so exciting!!
      Hooray for all the dragons! You should definitely read The Tea Dragon Festival, because those books are just the cutest ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Damn, I’ve gotta say, your revision process is pretty badass to witness. I definitely don’t dive that deep into it, though I do currently have my manuscript next to me that’s completely covered in writing and highlighter. It’s just so satisfying to handwrite sometimes!

    Also, you are, in fact, correct. Toothless is pure perfection. And I love that you picked Enneagram songs!!! I just got my Space vinyl in the mail from him, and it’s gorgeous, I just want to weep all over it forever, hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh why thank you! 😀 It really is satisfying to handwrite those changes and feel like you’re really Making A Difference when you see all the markups lol.

      Toothless is baby!! Ooh that’s so cool that you go the vinyl 😮 Sleeping at Last has the most gorgeous music.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading about your current revision progress! I didn’t do the handwriting the changes (because my handwriting is so bad) but I’m happy that it’s working for you! I totally get feeling a bit stuck, revision can take such a long time 😔

    Good luck with Camp NaNo!! I’m not participating because I’m just getting back into my writing groove, but I wish you all the best luck! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Caro! Ahaha I can relate to the bad handwriting — I’ve already looked back at some things I’ve jotted down and wondered what the heck I was trying to say 😂 It certainly is a lengthly process…

      Ahh thank you, and good luck to you with getting back into writing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So, I was just reading through this post and then I got to the dragon section, and then I saw the name Nayimathun and I wish I also had a dragon to ride through the sea and sky on!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i loved reading this, margaret!! i’m honestly in awe of your ability to do big revisions on paper — i can handle little edits, but rewriting whole pages or scenes by hand is too much for me 😭 (but i’ll admit that marking things up with pen on paper is much more thrilling than just editing on the screen!) also omg the tea dragons from the tea dragon graphic novels, i love them so much and i want one so bad 🥺🥺 i’m wishing you all the luck with the rest of camp nano this month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you so much! ❤ It is definitely…a bit intimidating at times 😬 But you're right that it feels fancy to edit on paper 😀 Oh goodness, the tea dragons are soooo cute I cannot even handle it. Thanks so much, May!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s amazing that you’re making so much writing progress Margaret!! It may not seem like much, but getting to the second draft is HUGE! Most writers can’t even finish a first draft (ahaha, am i calling myself out, perhaps). good luck with camp nano! also, you gave the dragon the score he deserves 🤭🤭 he was creepy asf and the fact that he’s a bajillion years old and he got together with a teenage girl makes him even more creepy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❤ The first draft was anything but easy, but it is exciting to be working on the second draft now 😀
      Oof yeah, the Dragon barely even deserves to be on this list 😬 (but i just couldn't resist roasting him)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wonderful post! ” -4 for marrying a donkey sorry” lol – I loved that. Mushu is my favourite I think – he is so funny. The cartoon of my childhood was “The Flight of Dragons” [1982] – it had such a big impact on my young brain and I would spend ages imagining I have a dragon to ride the skies on.

    Liked by 1 person

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