I think I’m on to something here
Here’s the last video update in this series, where I draw another location for the novel (a storeroom) and harvested scenes from my Q&A document.
I listed the scenes from the ‘answers’ I had highlighted in orange in a new document, and gave them each a summary. I do intend to refer back to the original Q&A document for more detail when needed.
I ended up with 40 scenes for Acts 2 and 3, of which 29 are new. Now I just need to develop them out!
Reflecting on the past month, I thought I’d share some observations and things I’ve learned from this experience.
This challenge had just the right amount of flexibility. When setting it up, I gave myself a choice of what to do each day: write, draw, or prepare to write (mashing up Inktober Prepober and NaNoWriMo into December, which is why this challenge has that unpronounceable name).
Having options was great! I could switch between tasks, depending on:
- how much time I had,
- what I was in the mood for, and
- what phase the project was, in terms of what it needed next.
I tracked my writing in a sprint tracker I made in Notion (you can see it in the video). To ‘win’ the challenge for the day, I just had to write (at all). Even if I wrote for five minutes, it counted.
That was pretty much all the structure I needed to maintain consistency. I typically wrote more than that, because I was having fun.
Measuring progress in ‘streaks’
It was helpful to measure my progress in streaks, so if I fell off the consistency train (which I did a couple of times), I just restarted my streak counter. I got the idea from Wordle because that’s how it displays your statistics.
Streaks incentivized me to keep the challenge going even after I’d fallen off. Here was the result:
- I wrote or drew every day of the month except for two.
- My longest streak was 18 days.
- Even on the days that I drew, ended up also writing, because the momentum was starting to build and I was excited to push my draft forward even a tiny bit.
Often, writing was the easier choice because I could do it in about five minutes, if I wanted. Drawing a picture typically took an hour or more.
In that way, the incentives lined up well with my goal because writing was the more important task. The drawing was mostly for fun and to help visualize scenes in my writing. Since I ended up writing more often, that worked out well.
Over the month, my writing went through three phases.
- The first phase was just reading my old draft.
- Next, I started pulling pieces out to make an outline.
- Last, I went through a couple of passes of questions and answers about each plot point.
That evolution just happened naturally, out of asking myself what I needed to do to get more clarity and get closer to be able to draft the scenes.
The small level of consistency I maintained helped in finding answers to my questions, just between writing sessions. I posed a question one day, and had an answer the next.
I guess my subconscious was plugging away at it without me knowing, which is always nice.
Qualitatively, there was a ton of progress!
Looking at the before-and-after of my novel makes that clear.
At the start of the month, I had been stuck for a while, and I hadn’t read my draft in months. (I was scared to.)
At the end, with just a little bit of effort, I’ve built up momentum and have a clear plan going forward. And most importantly, a bunch of confidence that I didn’t have before.
So, suffice it say that I’m really glad I did this!
I’m nowhere near as tired as I have been after NaNoWriMo, (the couple of times I attempted it, and didn’t win, obviously). With this challenge, I did what I set out to do and still feel energized.
That’s important for making sustainable progress.
If you’re considering devising a challenge for yourself…
I would definitely encourage doing it! I think it’s a great idea.
And I’d also encourage kind of setting the bar low. I think there’s a lot to be gained from consistency alone, without going after crazy word counts that will tire you out.
I guess what I’m saying is that doing something easy can actually be beneficial, believe it or not.
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So, that concludes this series, and I hope you enjoyed following along!