Starting something new is exhilarating and my default reaction is to put all systems on go and pour all my time and resources into it. At the moment, I am lucky enough to (mostly) do exactly that. For a few more weeks, I have complete freedom as to how I spent my time and a large chunk of it goes into this project.
But lets be realistic. That is not how it usually goes. First of all, the innital honeymoon phase ends eventually, no matter how great a project. Besides, no one has only one thing to keep track of.
Which is where it usually gets messy for me. Having more balls to juggle inevitably leads to me dropping first one, and then another, and in the end they are all in a big heap on the ground and I am waving my goals goodbye.
That’s were the principle of “No zero days” comes in.
It originated on reddit in 2013 from all I can tell (here is the original comment by ryan01), and it boils down to a very simple rule:
No more days where you don’t do at least one thing that contributes to your goals/ the things you need to get done.
While that might sound intimidating at first, writing one sentence is more than zero. Plotting one szene is more than zero. Looking up a potential agency is more than zero. Do one thing that gets you closer to your goal. One. Single. Thing.
Everyone probably knows those days when you get nothing done, then beat yourself up about it, fall into a slump and the next day, feel so bad about not having gotten anything done that you fall into apathy and suddenly, the days get away from you and your dreams and goals lie idle. It’s a vicious circle, and, when partnered with any kind of anxiety, depression or other personal issues, probably kills more projects than anything else.
Besides discipline, momentum and motivation are everything in getting things done. And while not every day will be a great day, while some days will contribute little to nothing to the actual project, being able to say you did not abandon it completely ticks all three boxes. You had the discipline to get something, anything done. You are not starting from zero the next day, because the engine is still running, no matter how slowly, and last but not least, there is a motivating factor in not letting an existing streak of days spent working on something break.
(Disclaimer: Life happens. Forgiveness is a thing, especially towards yourself. If you are sick as a dog, your life just got turned upside down or whatever thing it is that really threw you for a loop, don’t beat yourself up. Start again. Beat your first streak with your new one.)
I’ll incorporate a Zero day counter into my weekly updates and try to keep my streak of productivity up uninterupted for as long as possible.
After this more than smooth transition, let’s talk achievements of the week (I’ll start to sort them into three categories from now on):
- wrote another paragraph in th novella (about 600 words) for fun
Plotting and worldbuilding
- figured out the basics of my magic system
- established the old gods of Ediria (who are not active anymore and mostly forgotten but still importan as a background)
- posted a summary of my world, characters and plot so far to my writing forum, which helped me figure out a few more names, connections and timelines
- understood that my first idea for a LI set up was utter crap and came up with a much better one (two, actually! Yay)
- in the wake of the LI thing, came up with two more characters who look promising
- decided to try out the points on a map method to plan the novella (since freewriting is nice but I notice that I don’t yet know what points I want the story to hit, so a little planning goes a long way)
Learning the craft
- listened to a few episodes of writing excuses
- watched the plot and character building lectures held by Brandon Sanderson in 2013
- watched the short fiction lecture from the same year
- realised I have to read more short fiction in order to get a better understanding for writing short (started with Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza on Tor.com)
Zero days: 0 (streak: 15 days)
A few more general words on how it has been going durng the last week. First of all, this project is helping me a lot right now to actually work on what I want to do. It got me commited to writing again and on top of that, the beginning anticipation in my writers forum for NaNoWirMo couldn’t haven hit at a more opportune moment.
My mind has also already been racing ahead and come up with plans that go quite a bit beyond what I initially envisioned,which is typical for me. I build grand castles and I often build them to an extend that makes failure imminent, and thus, justifies giving up along the way (So far, I could never figure out whether that happened for fear of failure or sucess. Both seem equally terrifying in their own right sometimes).
One of the challenges of this project will therefore be to not get ahead of myself. Plans are good, growing projects are great. But losing focus is a problem I’ve fought with a lot in the past. So I’ve acknowledged those ideas and plans, marked them down in my journal, and let them go for now.
First and foremost, my goal is to write a book and learn more about (my) writing in the process. It’s a good thing that, while watching Sandersons lectures, I kept being reminded of that. Whenever one of his students asked about how to do a certain thing in a series etc., he kept replying “Finish your book first.” That’s going to be my mantra.
Write that damn book, girl!