The beginning has come, time to write and write and write some more! This year, I have made some goals to ensure that I am staying on track and on target. In addition to buckling down and focusing on the writing itself, I will be working to keep myself accountable to sticking to the daily milestones and targets that will lead to a successful book. The focus that we put into Preptober this year has built up some much-needed confidence to go after this target like I never have had before.
So to all of those who are participating this year in NaNoWriMo, I wish you all the best in staying focused and keeping the words flowing out onto the page. May your creativity shine and that we all reach our goals.
The last several weeks have been very hectic with work and the writing schedule, so I am condensing the previous 3 weeks into a single update as we are working to close out Preptober. As I have stated before, I am expanding most of the work that has been completed to this point, focusing on shoring up my main character and working to better define support characters so that they fully enrich the story progression.
It just goes to illustrate that even when an idea is already in progress, there is always more we can do to help improve our writing process and the details of our stories.
Make a list of Research Topics
Visualize a breathtaking story setting
Start Developing your character
Brainstorm on how to get unstuck
Outline your Top Ten Scenes
Make plans to attend a Write-In
Week 2 has come to a close…
Closing out Week 2, I am considering what my ideal November writing experience would look like, this step is very important. Just with training for world-class athletes, visualizing how the process should flow and what to do when things are not in that ideal state helps you to find ways to overcome challenges and reach your Goals.
As for me, I have seen that the end of the year is hectic, work, kids’ events, and family obligations are always demanding time, so when would I write? In the past, I have tried to do this in the evenings, but the lack of motivation and the desire to stop making decisions does not make that time well spent. Moving it to first thing in the morning has some merit and may be part of the answer.
It essentially boils down to the ability to focus for a set amount of time. In short, I will be leveraging the Pomodoro technique and using some time during the day to nail out as much detail into the story as I can, using the off hours as a planning period or buffer if I am trying to complete an idea.
Make a List of Character Names
Visualize your Characters at 3 points in the story
Work on your Character’s Development Arc
Collect some inspirational prompts, images, and quotations
Expand you synopsis outline
Plan ways to get more time in November
Wrapping up Week 3, Some Thoughts
The end of Week 3, brings a lot of focus to your main characters. You have to have quite a bit of interest in your characters for them to develop well on the page, you must care about them in some way and essentially form a relationship with your invisible friend that no one else can imagine until you share your work.
With that said, part of what draws me to my main characters, is that I found myself curious to see how their pairing would evolve, the interactions, the dialogue. Strong personalities, I am very used to working with them, but putting those same patterns into the story form makes for an interesting writing experience, which I am hoping will translate well to the reader at the end.
Having such a duty-focused MC who is challenged constantly by his companion, helps them both to evolve their world perspectives. It forces me to consider many more aspects of the dynamic than is shown in the writing and has such a varied effect on how they make decisions and interact with those around them. To say I am fascinated would be quite an understatement.
Make a list of things you love in stories
Visualize an exciting plot twist
Create a rough timeline for your character
Ask a friend for a story dare
Outline your ending
Plan a writing routine and schedule
Do you feel ready, well, do ya?
As we draw near to the end of Preptober activities, I am left with the question, Am I Ready for this? I already know that I am not, though I do feel like I have a plan and a reasonable chance for success to close out this NaNoWriMo experience. What I have experienced in the past is the many varied ways that life can get in the way, not an excuse by any means. Its reality, there is always something that will need attention, and since this is not my only focus, there will be other demands on my very limited time.
I have put years into considering the aspects of my story world, how the different groups, ecosystems, and patterns will interact, and surprisingly that is not what concerns me about my story world. My concern lies in that I feel many authors rely on the external factors of the environment to push the story with a focus on many of the esoteric aspects of their creation. It is effective in many situations, however, I want my story to be able to stand alone without the need for those components, that they add flavor but are not the meat of the experience for my readers.
While I have planned and visualized different ways to ensure success, I know there will be challenges for me to agonize over, but at the same time… Why would I let that stop me?
Don’t be a stranger!
Hopefully, you are ready for your NaNoWriMo experience, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences as well!
This year my Preptober will take a different path than it has in previous years. I am not starting a new project during this period which feels a little off to me, though finishing an in-flight one is just as essential. Some of the normal milestones that I would typically be working through are already set, which alleviates part of the prep work, and with the time that is freed up, I will repurpose to expand and enhance the current project.
Announce Word Count Goal
Going to stretch this year and aim for 60K words.
Decided that it was firmly in the realm of Science Fantasy, though definite leans towards the epic fantasy types.
Chosen Story Idea
Continuing on with the Mission Reports from Illium
POV is Set
With this week’s activities completed we will be moving more into the prep phase for the activity that is coming up in November, training if you will on how to handle the low motivation and writer’s block events that are sure to happen. Stay tuned!
Goals are now set, we are getting ready to kick this year off in style and it is time to start working towards those first set of milestone targets. Ringing in the new year is always fun and I for one can say I don’t always make it to midnight. Still, the changing of the year is a time to celebrate both what has passed and what opportunities lay ahead.
As a Developer, I have developed a fondness for data in all of its forms, from tracking the changes made, to tracking how far we have come on any and all aspects of a project. As an artist, I tend to leave that all by the wayside and try to take a “devil may care” attitude to my creative endeavors. This year I am changing that for two reasons:
I want to actually make measurable progress and show visible improvement in my creative pursuits.
I want to stop letting life and other things consume all of the free time I have that can be used to further number 1.
When I was defining the set of Goals that I wanted to work towards this year, I paid particular attention to how to measure the progress and what the end state of that goal would look like for 2023. As a byproduct of that focus, the goals that I have set are more concrete in definition and criteria for success, two things that have been very vague in the past, and I have worked to bring them closer to specifics.
Several of the Metrics I have settled on are:
Number of Occurrences during a set time period
Completion of a project during a set duration
Specific quantitative targets each quarter
Now, I know that seems vague and it can be when looking at it out of Context, which is why I am setting up a Goal Tracking page to help me keep track of each of the targets on my 2023 List.
Tracking Goals Progress
As referenced above, progress will be posted on the Goal Tracking page and updated weekly or monthly as time allows. I have already set up a reminder to complete this task along with my regular review routines.
Why spend all of this effort to manage your goals?
I believe that for progress to be made, you need to know where you stand. Having a way to see where each of your efforts is at a given moment is extremely helpful in this regard. When I am unsure of where I need to prioritize my efforts, time, and energy I can look back here and see what needs to be addressed next.
Why am I putting it out on a public site?
One word, Accountability. While I am confident in my ability to make progress, adding the external layer of people that can be watching as well as positive pressure on the process makes it all more real to me.
Using Instagram and Etsy to get more content and products out there is already in the works so what is the harm in sharing more?
What success looks like…
It is easy to say that seeing all of my goals completed would be a measure of success, however, that seems too simplistic of a solution. I would consider myself successful in 2023 if I have made measurable progress toward my goals and see the requisite progress in my abilities and skills. I would expect that means that a significant number of the goals that are laid out would be completed, but that I would also be adjusting the list throughout the year to add more and adjust the vectors of the ones in flight to be conducive to my long-term plans.
The best place for me to be in a year is in a better position than I currently am. What am I willing to do and sacrifice to get there will be the deciding factor on where this leg of my journey will end up.
Each and every year, I sit down to do a final review of what happened and determine how I want to improve in the year to come. While I use this time to frame out some general goals, I do not hold any stock in New Year’s Resolutions, they are notoriously unreliable. This is a time of reflection, a chance to center yourself back onto the path you have been traveling, and should be taken with the seriousness that should entail. After all, we are all striving for something, moving from point A to B and figuring out all of the steps in between.
2022 New Years Goals – (Missing Due to Baby Arrival planning)
What a Year, Let’s Review
This year has been very impactful for me, with the birth of our second child, significant changes in the professional arena, and also some remarkable strides in the development of my art. They say that one of the only constants in this world is change, and I have never heard anyone able to disprove that, so we must take that variability in life and circumstance into account for everything we do. The thought that anyone could ever become so complacent as to be comfortable is hard for me even to fathom.
The environment that we live in is too complex and dynamic with all of the different content sources and technologies working to grab and keep your attention it forces even the most stagnant of people to realize that change is constant all around us.
While I am sure you could choose to ignore it, which seems detrimental to your personal growth, the choice to lean into the changes and see what opportunities await is by far the more desirable choice. So it comes down to this, What are you going to choose to do?
Personally, I am focusing my efforts in several different directions so as to take many small steps towards improvement in as a well-rounded approach as I can.
Starting with skill improvements, I am going to continue to develop my writing practices and abilities, improve my digital art skills and of course, use this as a medium to share my progress in all of those arenas.
Personal growth areas, finding new ways to connect with people is a goal of mine in the upcoming year, finding a way to deepen connections and work to further my cherished relationships.
I think almost everyone these days is looking to establish additional financial income streams and I am no different in that, so spending some additional time working on items/services to utilize will be a large focus item for me.
Faith has been a very important part of my life and deepening my understanding and keeping myself on the path will also get more focus in the upcoming year.
While I am sure there will be many more goals, large and small that organically develop throughout the upcoming year I will be working on these four main ones as a roadmap for my improvement activities.
Observations and Positive Intent
Most of the challenges this year have been external, though I can be sure that not all have started that way. Home repairs and maintenance are expected, the amount that we have had to do this year was excessive. We were fortunate enough to line up the work and get it all done, or at least all of the major items, and are now lined up for the next set of projects in the new year.
Personal creative efforts have been up and down this year. Sheer personal motivational challenges are where the fault lies here, I know that it is completely within my control to manage that part of the endeavor. All I can say to that is that I failed this year in this regard. I am going to strive to do better this upcoming year and am actively planning on how to improve my efforts in this regard, so I am marking where I am currently at this year and seeing what progressive milestones I can set for myself on a monthly basis.
Professionally, it seems that I have been slowly burning out with all that had been asked of me, so this recent change in role is going to be a time to reflect and improve on situations that I struggled with before. I feel the drive to be better and do better, which has not been this strong in years and I am excited for the new challenges ahead, even the political ones. No, I am really serious about that part.
I am typically an optimist at heart and lately I feel as if I have a cynical filter on the world. To that I am going to make a concerted effort to assume “positive intent” on the actions that I don’t have evidence of to the contrary, this is to not only lighten my personal outlook on the world, but hopefully also temper my responses that result.
Onward to 2023!
Making this another transformative year and working towards the goals I am setting for myself, leveraging the data and metrics to validate the progress as the year moved forward is what I am committing to, Time to Get Creative!
30 days …. What could you possibly do in thirty days? Quite a lot, it would seem. We have a goal of at least 50,000 words, which is about 1,667 words a day. It will take effort, it will take dedication and it will take resolve. The resolve to complete the task before you is what will carry you through. You have set your goals and prepared as best you can. Now it falls to each of you to go out and create the most amazing creative work that you can and have been dreaming about for some time.
Motivational, no? I am spending the last of my Preptober time getting ready to go after this goal of mine and I am constantly trying to ensure that I have the drive to follow it through. I have completed some of these in the past and know that I could have done better. This year I want to end it with no regrets, that I have put forth the effort that I know I am able to bring to the project. There are challenges, since there are other very large projects that are taking up some of my attention, the daily goals alone seem quite daunting. That is all the more reason that I have to do this, to strive under the pressure to do more, be more.
I challenge all of you to do the same, whether it is writing or some other creative pursuit, try to plan out behavior that you want to be more routine in your life and work on it consistently every day to make it better, to ingrain it into your routine. Strive to make it so effortless that you don’t even have to think about doing it. At that point, you have established a building block to create the long-lasting changes that you want to see in yourself.
Here we are, kicking off the month, I am starting off with quite a bit of prep work done and I still feel like it is not quite enough to be ready to continue writing all the way to the end goal, so there will be some additional leg work in between that will need to be addressed. I just hope that after this first week of November gets past and all of the stress of the other projects that I am beholden to will start to die down as we head toward the holiday season, and I will be able to keep more focus on the details of my story and hit my targets consistently.
With all of that Let Us BEGIN!!! As I complete sections I will start posting excerpts on the project pages.
Here we are coming to the close of Preptober and the final week is almost complete. Hopefully, by this point you have some high-level details of your story laid out, some sketches of your characters, their potential development path, and some outline of the overall storyline. You are about to get into the meat of the work coming up next week and while you may still feel unprepared, you have a least a modicum of direction that you can start to pursue. You have a rough or detailed research plan depending on your personality type and have started your exploration into these supporting details for your efforts.
With all of the planning and prep that you have completed comes the final phase of your Preptober journey, developing the resolve to carry through the month of grueling word-smithing that lies ahead of you. Hitting your goals is meant to help you develop a writing routine and habit, after all, consistency is key to establishing any habit. That will not help you stay on task however and you may find that you are in a creative desert with no direction to go. This is where your determination to complete this challenge will come into play.
You are now closer to writing that story, helping you to provide more structure to the skeleton of your tale, while also giving you a taste of where you can take some risks and the rewards that may result. Be honest with yourself about the good and bad of your story, because you can’t fix what you aren’t aware of, or if you are ignoring it.
For more information make sure to check out our other Preptober and Nanowrimo posts, and as always the Nanowrimo site has some incredible resources!
So buckle-up buttercup and let’s get to writing this thing…..
Week 3 is wrapping up and the realization of the extent of the task in front of you is starting to set in. You may be thinking about how much you need to do, feeling daunted at the challenge of meeting writing goals coming up next month, not sure if this is something that you will be able to complete and of course the ever-present imposter syndrome. This is normal, we all feel overwhelmed but the amount of detail that you get as you start trying to piece the montage of details into a cohesive whole is. It is actually a good thing that you are feeling this now, versus in a couple of weeks when you are in full swing of trying to write during NANOWRIMO.
“Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.”
Paul J. Meyer
Taking the time now to work through those emotions and realizing what is triggering them will help you manage those same feelings as you work through your project. Spend the time and come up with some strategies to break it down into smaller chunks that you need to consume, write or research. Write it all down to keep the details out of your brain so that you can free up as much mental capacity as possible for creative endeavors.
This week was Character week, you hopefully have spent quite some time getting to know your primary cast of characters. What did you find surprising about them as you started to figure out what makes them tick? This is one of my favorite parts of writing since you can let your imagination develop all of those friends that you used to play with when you were a kid come back alive and in a way that you will be able to share with others.
Did you focus on the personal or physical dilemma that was facing the protagonist of your story, or did you stretch and also evaluate the moral struggle that you are expecting them to deal with? Hopefully you did both. It always makes for a more relatable character if they are not only changing due to outside pressures but also illustrating how their behavior and thought patterns shift as a result of the development as well.
Don’t forget to support “You”
You should have also spent some time this week working on some mental health strategies for the month of November. Such as how to find more free time to address things that could distract you from achieving your writing goals or how to keep yourself motivated through the writing journey that lies ahead. DO NOT let yourself skimp on this activity set, the energy that put in now will ensure that when you find a challenge in a few weeks you already have the plan to help you overcome it, and that is more valuable than waiting and wasting time later. Procrastination here is not your friend.
You have just 1 more full week and some change in the time left over before the NANOWRIMO kickoff begins and this upcoming week will be all about preparing to make your writing month the most successful that it can be.
Hopefully, you have made it through the slog of details that start to flood your mind when it comes to how your story is starting to take shape. The nebulous form is starting to become clearer in your mind, characters are starting to solidify, the scenery is starting to take form, and the events are taking shape.
It is about this time, that the feelings of being overwhelmed really start to take hold of me. I can sense the looming wave of detail that is hovering on the edge of my writing brain, waiting to slip in and drown me in minutiae that will distract me from my current goal. This is where newer writers start to awaken to the sheer depth of their craft, and also give them an appreciation for the effort that has gone into some of their favorite books.
This week was all about setting up your game plan for the month ahead, getting the bare-bones frameworks in place so that you can continue to expand on the different aspects of the story that you will eventually need to bring together to create the final product. It should all be building on the work and effort you put in last week as well.
After completing the activities in this section, you should have the following:
A list of Topics to research:
This list is very important, this should be the details that you need to nail down to bring a sense of realism to your story and make the actions and environment of your world more relatable to your audience. Once you have a list, don’t leave it for another day either, start working on each topic throughout the rest of this Preptober session so that you can clear that dependency from your path to creating your story.
What are some examples from your list? Here are some of my own for this session:
Non-motorized means of transport and the nature of how that was successful.
Animal behavior and abnormal traits in predatory species.
Weather patterns that are specific to my setting’s geographic profile.
A clear vision of a breathtaking story setting
This is most important to yourself, it will help you to describe the small details, creating the same image in the mind of your readers, it will also help you to further immerse yourself into the story. I can picture myself walking down the same streets, interacting with some of the same people, and really getting a sense of the lives that your characters live. If you are artistic enough to draw or visually create your own setting, that is amazing and can serve as a concrete example of your world. Most people though look towards creating a map of their world, luckily there are some handy web-based options for those that don’t have the time or talent to draw these out from scratch. Check out Inkarnate for example.
Initial Development of Characters
Like all of the other tasks that you have worked on so far this month, this is only the beginning, getting a sense of who you want your characters to be is where you need to be at this stage. You don’t know all of the interesting aspects of their personalities and how they will interact with the world around them. That will come in time, right now you should be focusing on the core of the character, what is making them the driving force behind your story and how their own challenges fit into your broader narrative.
Brainstorm on how to get unstuck
When you get stuck during your writing and you will get stuck, what is your plan to get back on track? Are you going to attack a different aspect of the story-writing process, go for a run, cook something, watch a movie or read a book? There are many ways that can get your brain back on track to follow those creative pathways that are unfolding in your story. The one thing that I can guarantee is that whichever tactic you choose it should always come back to getting words on the page, otherwise it will more likely than not become just another distraction or temptation to procrastinate in doing what you need to be doing. Procrastination is not something you can allow in the NANOWRIMO process, you don’t have time for it.
Outline your Top Ten Scenes
Mapping out your scenes is a standard way to keep track of the numerous plot threads that will start appearing all over your story scape, starting with the basic framework will also help to create a more comprehensive story as you write. Don’t skimp on this step, really spend some time here because most of your challenges in making your story flow can be caught if you have a well-designed plan in place.
Plan to attend a Write-in session
This is a beneficial exercise for those that are struggling to get started, a write-in session will bring you closer to your local writing community as well as give you some additional eyes and ears on potential issues while you are working through your story. Networking with other writers will also be beneficial, especially if they are kind enough to commiserate on their own challenges, their struggles, and how they overcome them. I personally believe the organic interactions that you get from a physical write-in bring a significantly improved experience, though if you are still uncomfortable being around other people, the virtual option may be a better fit.
Clear visualization of how your successful November would appear
There is power in positivity, and you should take advantage of it when describing what your successful NANOWRIMO month would look like. How would you achieve and/or break your word count goals to produce the best, most compelling story that you have ever imagined? Take yourself through exercises where you perceive setbacks and periods of inability to write, visualizing how to overcome these situations and feelings will give you some practice for when the actual events occur. Professional athletes do this type of visualization all the time since it is when things go wrong that you need to continue to perform and push forward to reach your final goals. You are actively working out your mind to do something similar so why not take some inspiration and try it out in your own writing practices?
Where to go next?
As it really starts to sink in the level of the challenges you have chosen to overcome, you will start moving from this awakening period, and into the realization of what is needed to take yourself to the next level of skill in your craft and writing profession. Keep pushing yourself, don’t be satisfied with the surface level of the process, dig deeper and find what works for you so that you can really develop your story into something magnificent. After all, it doesn’t happen by accident, it takes effort and a lot of it.
Coming to the close of Preptober Week 1 and we are already seeing positive traction in moving our story from concept closer to reality. The excitement can be intense, however, the journey has only begun, regardless of your experience level, whether it is a first-time practitioner or a seasoned veteran.
Oh, that initial excitement!
At this point your energy is high, and you are excited about getting into the mix of writing your scenes and interacting with your characters, sharing in their experiences as you build the journeys/events that dominate their world. Take a moment and revel in that feeling, it is something that will not last, and before you get deeper in and the newness begins to wear off, make sure to remember the feel of it so that you can tap into that when the struggle to get the next word down on the page and get that boost needed to reach the next milestone.
Right now, crafting a complete concept model for your story should be a long-term goal, it is not realistic to expect that you will complete this process before you begin writing. Nor should you expect it to remain the same throughout the process. Your story, characters, and writing journey will shape all of that as you get closer to editing time. Don’t add that un-needed pressure on yourself at this point, there will be more than enough time for that later.
Now that I am done pontificating on the process, let’s get into the guts of what is going on in my own process. You can find these prompts and more on Instagram every day this month, Make sure to follow!
Announcing my Word Count Goal for November 2022 :
Point of View:
Keep a watch out for updates and posts as this story evolves: Mission Reports
Remember this level of excitement
The stories that are being planned, written, edited, or published are all starting from somewhere, where does your own begin and what are you willing to do to make it a reality? I don’t think that anyone starting a writing project could not be excited over the ability to create a reality all their own, and try to maintain that through the hard days to come. The time will come when you are faced with that question and hopefully, by the end of this month, you will be able to answer it.