Monday, December 3, 2012

Nathan Hale's Calendar

If you're not reading Nathan Hale's blog you should be. He's a wonderful artist and all around creative guy. His posts aren't long and they usually involve a picture he's drawn.

He's also been known to publish whole stories on his blog. Lately, he hasn't done that as much because he's just so busy putting out books.

I'd like to have that problem.

Earlier this week, he shared his calendar. He uses it to track his work. It's simple, useful, and really cool to look at. Here's a quick explanation.

A line coming in from the bottom of a day means he started drawing a page. A line going out the top of a day, means he finished the page. Seriously, look at all those lines. For more details, you need to read and comment on his post.

Not only is it easy to see the work he got done, this feels like a sup'd up version of the Don't Break the Chain method. I love it.

In fact, I've been trying to think how I could adapt it for writing. I was thinking about tracking scenes.

I define a scene as a series of chronological events that happen in one location. This is how I write my stories--scene by scene. I don't put them together into chapters until later in the editing process.

So scenes might work. Of course, they vary in length quite a bit, some of my scenes are just 500 words while others are 5000 words. Still, I don't think that matters. What matters is moving the story forward, not how many words are in the story.

I'm also considering making writing and editing scenes look different somehow. I don't want to complicate things, so I was thinking about writing a "D" or "E" when a line comes in the bottom. In the end, it also doesn't matter if I'm writing or editing as long as the book is progressing, so I'm not sure if I'll need to do this.

The goal is to have a cool visual representation of my progress. Cool enough that the pattern I'm creating will provide motivation to continue the pattern.

So, I'm looking for other people's ideas. What do you think would make for a good calendar tracking system? Also, don't forget to check out Nathan's blog.

* Nathan's calendar image posted with permission.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Winning Nanowrimo

2012 Nanowrimo Winner Badge
I won Nanowrimo. Hurray! (And there was much rejoicing . . . and ice cream.)

This is the second year I've participated, and it was both easier and harder than last year.

For those of your not familiar with Nano, it's a challenge to write 50K words in the month of November. If you do, you win. And there are tens of thousands of winners each year.

Like I was saying, this year was easier in some ways. For one, I already knew I could do it.

The second time you do something, your confidence is higher and you doubt yourself less. Of course, it's not all happiness and roses. Doing a difficult thing a second time, is still difficult--you just know more about what you're getting yourself into.

2012 Nanowrimo Progress Chart
This year was also harder. On the 3rd day of the month, my writing ground to a halt. A problem at work required a lot of my attention. My team didn't cause the problem, but we had to help solve it. I ended up working over 90 hours that week, much of it in the middle of the night.

Playing catch up was hard. I constantly felt the pressure to crank out words, and I think it made me a little grumpy. Thank goodness I have a supportive family.

It took until the 24th to finally get caught up and pull ahead.

The story isn't finished yet. I think there is at least another 30-40K more words to go, but I have a solid start thanks to Nanowrimo.
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* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations