30 Day Challenge (Sunday, Oct 5 - Monday, Nov 3)
30 Day Kaizen Challenge (Sunday, Oct 5 - Monday, Nov 3)
Decided to add a challenge log to the mix to succeed in my attempts to get my work out of the way first before hitting the Internet. With this challenge, I want to try the principle of kaizen.
For this challenge, I will:
1. Write 50 words.
2. Work for 30 minutes after getting out of bed and washing up.
For every successive day, I will write 10 more words, and work for 2 more minutes.
Day One Goal: 50 words, 30 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: When I checked, I found out that I had written 109 words, which is easy to do when you really get into it. Anyway, the main difficulty was a sense of uncertainity, because I didn't know where I was going to take the short story I'm writing now. I think I'll throw together a bare outline and see if I can't get a coherent plotline together this early on.
-Work: Succumbed to a minor distraction and had to blow my nose out, but other than that, it went fine. I don't particularly like working in a certain time limit, though, but I will for this trial, and switch back to my results-oriented approach at the end.
Day Two Goal: 60 words, 32 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 170 words-it's really to overshoot my goal for the moment. XD I'm still pretty uncomfortable with drafting out crap while I'm trying to pinpoint exactly where the story goes. It's the standard advice to write dreck until you've got the basic idea down but I frankly just hate it. I really want to go back and revise scenes, so I'm tempted to ignore the standard and go with that.
-Work: Being on a clock made me feel rushed. Time will tell, but for now, I'm leaning toward abandoning this part of the trial after the initial 30 day period.
Day Three Goal: 70 words, 34 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: After reading some articles about writer's block, I tried writing real quickly so that I wouldn't dwell on my words like I normally do. I did feel a bit panicked and unsure about what to write next, but writing quickly did help a lot. I need to practice this skill some more, but I'm already liking it.
-Work: Most of my work for the day was making plans about what to do next. Other than that, standard fare.
Day Four Goal: 80 words, 36 minutes (COMPLETED)
I was really groggy when I woke up, which didn't happen for the last three days. It slowed me down a bit, but I got myself on track. Still, I'll have to keep an eye out in case it happens again so I can figure out why it happened.
-Writing: Wow, I just went all out writing this scene, and when I finished it, I found out that it was 669 words. I don't think I'm going to have any problems keeping up with word count if I keep writing fast like this.
-Work: I don't like rushing myself when working, so today I took things a bit slower. I much prefer working at that pace, so I will continue to do that.
Day Five Goal: 90 words, 38 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 594 words. Again, pretty good. The scene is a long one so I decided to break it into two to have something to write about tomorrow.
-Work: This part didn't go so well. I was distracted more by little things than usual. Tomorrow I'm going to try and ramp up my focus on what's before me.
matt...good work on your challenge, your post are like clockwork, to the point adn presice...
about the destractions; what do you find draws your attention away from your work?
Day Six Goal: 100 words, 40 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 397 words. Just decided to break it off early so I'd have more to write about tomorrow. Not sure yet if I'll keep up the word count thing in the future or just write for a certain amount of time. All the same, I'd better aim low anyway after the trial to start things off. 1000 words a day now sounds doable with what I've learned, and over time, I daresay I can bump it up even higher.
-Work: Again, not a good session, but this was mostly because I felt a bit overwhelmed by the whole process of writing a resume. However, I know that research'll definitely help, so I plan to abuse my local library on the matter.
Day Seven Goal: 110 words, 42 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 733 words. What's really been holding me back from achieving a sort of flow, I believe, is the lack of a general plot direction. They say that, for short stories, writers tend to do better if they let their characters go off on their own path and the story is allowed to spring up. While I definitely got some interesting ideas through freewriting like this, it also makes it a bit hard when you don't exactly know what to do next. I think I will try to pounce on the first snippet of a conflict for a scene to give me something to work with. I know my main characters a bit enough to give some sort of direction to whatever I decide to use.
-Work: I must remember to keep my tasks decently-sized and measurable. Today I was previewing a book to find out what information I wanted from it before I took notes, and I found out that it was a lot. I couldn't possibly take all the notes in the time frame I set for myself today. From now on, I'll set tasks with a reasonable time frame-not too long, otherwise it'd be easy to get distracted.
Day Eight Goal: 120 words, 44 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 344 words. Yeah, I definitely need to learn more about plotting on the fly and writing freely. I plan to do some research on the matter today.
-Work: I originally intended to do more than one task today, but the important task I set work on first took up all my time, and I didn't even finish it. Hmmm. Currently I'm following Leo Babauta's "Zen To Done" model, where I complete three important tasks as opposed to a load of important and not-so-important tasks. I do want to get my other things done for the day, but I'm concerned that spreading the work over a period of days will inhibit my workflow. I'm going to follow it for a while and see what happens.
Day Nine Goal: 130 words, 46 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 283 words. After doing some reading up on plotting stories (which I plan to learn more about), I've taken a break from the main draft and going back to write out notes and character biographies. They always say you gotta make the characters and let them run by themselves, so I'm going to work on that as I read more about plotting.
-Work: I do tend to work slow, so I think I'm best suited overlooking a task and chopping it up in segments if it's too long to complete in one session. Got some reading done too. Reading a lot is important for a writer, so I want to set that habit up eventually.
Day Ten Goal: 140 words, 48 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 562 words. During this trial, I've tended to stop whereever once I've written a certain random amount. I want to change that once this trial is done, and instead focus on completing a set of writing with a specific end point. Either that, or write for a certain amount of time as opposed to word count. Probably a combo of both.
-Work: Following a time limit I've set for certain tasks has me ending them prematurely, and I'm going to change that as well after this trial is over with specific ending points for tasks.
Day Eleven Goal: 150 words, 50 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 699 words. This time I came to a natural stopping point-I mostly wrote to explore the intended theme and tone of my story, after reading some advice from an author who definitely has a real love for the craft. Which reminds me-I need to get copies of his articles for my hard drive so I can refer to them whenever I want.
-Work: The fact that I'm making myself complete my work before going online hampers some of my projects, I have to say. Whenever I write humor articles, I tend to search for images to compliment them, and with the way I tend to get distracted after the day's work is done, this could become a bigger problem than expected. I guess I'll just have to figure out a way to get what I need the night before without being too unfocused.
Day Twelve Goal: 160 words, 52 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 552 words. It's too bad I blew all my money on books I don't really need anymore, because there's a bunch of writing books I'd like on my shelf now. Until then, I guess I need to abuse the internet some more. Wonder if there's a good site out there for fiction writing advice.
-Work: Again, couldn't get some things done because I didn't exactly want to use the internet for a thing I need to complete. However, I have figured something else out that I want to try. I remember reading an article about being more productive by specifying an amount of projects and working intensely to dash them off as quickly as possible. I do feel like I'm spinning my wheels at the moment, hitting multiple projects at once (though I've only got three on my plate to focus on for simplicity purposes). Rather, I think I'll glance over what needs to be done the night before and figure out what I need to do tomorrow on one singular project, breaking that up into seperate tasks.
Day Thirteen Goal: 170 words, 54 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 214 words plus an unknown amount. Still planning out character info. Been responding in character, and it's been helping me figure it out. Still, this word limit is not gonna do it for me. I think I'd be better off developing the ability to write for a certain amount of time without stopping and without thinking too much. Of course, that's best for drafting. I dunno. At the very least, this whole thing is getting me feedback.
-Work: Okay, today I'm going to try and get the internet resources I need downloaded to my hard drive so I can actually accomplish something tomorrow, because today wasn't very productive. Add another thing to improve on to the list-developing a skill of solidly working without stopping due to minor distractions. Of course, being totally prepared can help do this, so that's another skill to add to the pile.
Day Fourteen Goal: 180 words, 56 minutes (COMPLETED)
Okay, I realized that I need to use the Internet for some of my work, and that I shouldn't beat myself up for using it for work-related purposes. I said before that I didn't want to get online, but that was because when I get on, I tend to get stuck refreshing things like YouTube. So, I'll allow myself to use the internet as a resource during my work, but I won't go to any forums or sites that I don't need to go to until I complete my daily quota. I'll look up what I need to get, copy it down, and then I'll unplug.
-Writing: 248 words. After some initial struggle, I used Google Books to look up some character development information from some writing books I've previously read. Armed with that, I was able to flesh out my character a lot more easily. I still need to ask some vital questions, and it took longer than normal, but I felt calm and focused.
-Work: Oh, wow, this part went pretty bad, I gotta say. Distractions took up more time than neccessary, and I'll admit I took care of one of them slowly, which made me feel like I didn't even want to finish the task I was working on. Still, I finished a rough draft, and I'm glad I did. You know, you can't really pinpoint when something's going to end, so I'm not going to worry about it. I did manage to concentrate pretty well on finishing that one task during my time frame, so I'm proud of that at least. I think it's best for me not to focus on doing something quickly, but putting in the time to finish something, even if it takes more than an hour to do. As long as I focus on the most important things to accomplish, it won't be a waste.
Day Fifteen Goal: 190 words, 58 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 191 words. I had to do a bit of struggling to make my word count today, because instead I was so focused on completing bios of my characters. That's all fine and good, but I'm still concerned about how it's going to go when I actually start drafting. However, I've learned a lot more since my first drafting attempts, and I know I don't need to rush while I'm still figuring things out, so it shouldn't be too bad.
-Work: Much better than yesterday. I completed all of my tasks early, so I got some reading done. Still need to set up a daily reading habit though.
Day Sixteen Goal: 200 words, 60 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 238 words. I'm learning more and more how to imagine myself as the character when I do this kind of planning. It's really no different from being in theater, so at least I'm used to it. Still, right now my notes seem to be a hodgepodge of assigned traits. I imagine that it would seem that way when you list the traits of any person, though, but when you meet the person themselves, it all seems to come together more evenly. I'm guessing once I actually begin drafting, the characters should become more solid.
-Work: Again, not bad, but the tasks I chose felt too small, so progress on this one project has been slow. Plus, sometimes I felt unsure as to where to go next. I think I need to make a basic list of what I need to do for each project (taking sudden obstacles into account) so I can divide it up along the week, batching quick actions together and counting that as one "task". I still want to stay with a small number of daily tasks, but I do need to pick up the pace a bit.
Day Seventeen Goal: 210 words, 62 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 1477 words. I really went wild on notes this time around. Tried out a character interview, where you sit 'em down and ask them questions to see what makes them tick. It worked out pretty well-now I've got an even better idea who this character is.
-Work: Switched to another project I wanted to do for a bit, as well as some schoolwork. Since some pressing schoolwork needs to be done tomorrow, I figure I can also use that time to clear out another project I've been holding onto.
Day Eighteen Goal: 220 words, 64 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 985 words. It's time to learn some more about drafting, because I think I'm ready to tackle it.
-Work: It feels strange to work deliberately slow. My mind keeps protesting that I should rush, rush, pick up the pace, but I hate being rushed and going by a clock. I'm going to try it for a little while longer before I make a decision about it.
Day Nineteen Goal: 230 words, 66 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 612 words. Hmmm. There's some more thinking I need to do. I know who to write about, but not what should happen to them. I guess it's back to notes for now.
-Work: Mmmmm. Didn't go so well, but I was unfamiliar with how to accomplish what I needed to do, so I guess it's to be expected. Tomorrow should be better.
Day Twenty Goal: 240 words, 68 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 572 words. Tried drafting today-didn't go so well. No problem, though. I'll just read more about it to see how I can improve. Still, I'm thinking that, in the future, I should set daily writing targets that are like completed scenes, not words written or time spent. That way there's a focus on results there like with the other work I want to do for the day.
-Work: I finished my resume, and another one doesn't need to be finished due to a surprise circumstance in my favor (at least for the moment), so now I can concentrate my ammo on finishing that last project. That's good, because I've needed a break from that resume-for me, it took major effort to figure out how everything goes together, but it's definitely paid off.
DAY TWENTY ONE
Day Twenty One Goal: 250 words, 70 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 721 words. I've embraced the concept of the "s***ty first draft"-the real danger is getting it on paper before you play with it. It was in "Schaum's Quick Guide To Writing Great Short Stories" that put it like this. First draft is what you're going to say, second draft is how you're going to say it. It kinda feels good to admit that I draft out a horrible scene that I can go back and repair later on.
-Work: I've cleared out the last of my current projects, so now I get to rest for a bit as I plan the next three projects that are most important to me. So far they've helped me keep my focus on what I really want and need to do, and I'm glad for it.
DAY TWENTY TWO
Day Twenty Two Goal: 260 words, 72 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 584 words. Hmmm. I keep going back and forth between planning things out and drafting. I guess they weren't kidding when they said writing fiction doesn't neccessarily go in a straight line. To be completely honest, I currently have no clue where to take this story idea. Fortunately, I've got another one that seems fully formed, so maybe I should focus on that for a while while my subconcious rests on the first idea. I wonder if other established writers switch around like this as much as I seem to be currently doing. Still, to be safe, I think I'll do some research on plotting so I can get some more tips.
-Work: Nothing really much to report here besides the same thoughts about being on a clock and taking things slow.
DAY TWENTY THREE
Day Twenty Three Goal: 260 words, 72 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 626 words. I really got into the flow by doing some freewriting, and it gave me a lot of ideas. If I can capture this flow more often, then it should really help me with my work.
-Work: Since I decided that I would need to do more research before approaching a project, I shifted to my second-most important project and cleared that all out. It was an on-the-fly decision that I really liked, so I think I'll keep doing it when I need a new task to replace an old one that got blocked.
DAY TWENTY FOUR
Day Twenty Four Goal: 280 words, 76 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 635 words. Another problem I seem to have is that I'm concerned that if I spend too much time writing, then I might not get other things done for the day. I want to get the work I need to do for the day done early so I can get it out of the way, but I'm not sure how to balance my writing goal for the day with that. I'll have to think about it.
-Work: Working on a clock can be a pain when you've finished everything you need to do and have to fill time up, so I did some reading. It's important for my planned line of work, so I don't feel too bad about it.
DAY TWENTY FIVE
Day Twenty Five Goal: 290 words, 78 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 650 words. It's pretty difficult to write right after waking up, because I still feel so addled and can't concentrate that well. With a creative task like writing, this makes it harder. However, after I got roused by someone to go downstairs to pick up breakfast, the ideas started to flow a lot more freely, so maybe I should move around more when waking up to get things flowing.
-Work: This part really didn't go well. My motivation lagged compared to other days, and it was a struggle to fill in the required time. At least I'm reading a lot more whenever I've got time to fill.
DAY TWENTY SIX
Day Twenty Six Goal: 300 words, 80 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 545 words. More off-the-cuff writing about the story and what I want to do with it...I sure hope that's part of the whole process because otherwise I haven't really felt all that productive on these kinds of days.
-Work: I've been interested in switching to a completion-oriented focus with my projects lately. I just hope snafus are part of the whole deal, because I've been running into quite a few during this trial. At least now I've got a plan on how to take care of it, so it shouldn't be that bad.
DAY TWENTY SEVEN
Day Twenty Seven Goal: 310 words, 82 minutes (COMPLETED)
-Writing: 400 words. Still struggling with some character development. I wonder why one character I made seemed to come out so easily and the other one is taking more effort. I think I have an idea on why, though, so like with all other pursuits, I'm going to follow that path for a bit and see where it takes me.
-Work: After I finished writing (and it took me a bit to actually consider what to put down), I went out for breakfast, and when I got home, I'll admit that I wanted to relax and not do anything else. Still, it's day twenty seven and I wasn't going to give up yet-I remembered that a day like this was going to come, so I grit my teeth and cleared out my task list. Once I got going, of course, it became easier, and now I'm glad I stuck with it. It's funny-you hear this kind of advice from people, but you don't really believe it until you live it. This'll serve as a good reminder.
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