Not a story for designers: My 14 day novel challenge.

On Sunday I'm going to begin a writing challenge. Writing challenge you say? Yeah, I’m going to try and write a complete novel in 14 days. My goal for each day is to at least complete 5 hours of writing, or 5,000 words. So in total 70,000 words or 70 hours of writing.

A tall order I think. My expectation is that it will be tough to finish with that many words, but the hours should be no problem. The story is more important than the word count right?

What I’m expecting to have at the end? I’ve written on and off for years, started stories and created worlds and then abandoned them (sob). I want to finish the challenge with a complete story. It won’t be perfect. The grammar will be terrible. I will have missed words and misused words and wrote sentences backwards. I think that’s okay.

What I’m expecting isn’t a perfect completed novel. What I’m after is a story front to back. I want to cross the finish line (finally). The best way to get better at something is to practice it right? So I need to practice and make all the mistakes I can.

How exactly is it going work?

14 days of writing. Two weeks. I’m allowing these to not be consecutive so I may well have a day or 2 break at one point. Ultimately I don’t want to burn out. I want to approach the challenge like a bootcamp but I don’t want to make it not fun. If I feel like I need an extra day or two to finish I will probably allow that. I want to finish the story ultimately, but give writing it a sense of excitement and adventure by framing it in a challenge format.

5 hours or 5,000 words a day. I must reach at least either milestone on my writing days. I’m going to try and stop around that mark, but if I go over in order to reach a natural stopping point then so be it.

I think 5 hours or 5,000 words is fair. Especially as I’m on my big ol’ summer break, I could fit that into either the morning or evening (that is something else I’m being strict on). It allows me the other half of the day to relax, meet friends or go exploring. It also gives me time to reflect on what I’ve written and to think and dream about what happens next in the story line.

Transparency. I plan (at the time of writing this) to upload what I write each day to my blog. These might only be temporary posts or a single post where the content is replaced each day to the current day's’ writing. Why do this? Well to share something imperfect in a discipline I don’t consider myself an expert of is going to be kinda ballsy. Ballsy is good. You got to take risks. And ultimately I get paid for my design, not my writing so it’s fine if I write something shit.

Edit later. My main focus is on completing and crafting the story. So whilst I might sift through and correct some typos or huge keyboard faux pas, I’m going to try and leave my writing largely untouched. Sure this will mean its not the best, but editing text on a grammatical basis let alone editing the story and characters is a much bigger task than writing the story. What happens to the story long term is a decision for after the challenge.

Reduce. A key thing that I learnt when I was working on my animation challenge was to cut out other shit so I can focus on what I want to focus on. Or you end up half-arsing the thing you really want to do. I’ll be writing each day, and also beginning a design challenge at the same time. I’ve planned for that as the design challenge is part of my ongoing 365 day challenge, so that hour or so of time each day is already earmarked until September 30th.

So each day I will write, I will design for about an hour, and once a week I will write a custom article (probably about design). I will do nothing else (that will be the hardest part).

 

Rounding it up

That is the challenge up front. I’ve got my internet accountability and that of my friends (some of whom are copywriters - which is terrifying).

At the time of writing this, do I feel ready to start? Nope. Hell no.
Even though this is something that is self-initiated and the stakes are lower, just like anything you want to set your sights on you never feel ready. That’s my experience anyway. I’ve never felt ready. I feel like I’ll be ready if I do 3 months of this or that...it’s a topic for another time for sure, but I do feel like with big decisions it’s about embracing being unready. I'm so unready. 

I’m excited to see how this goes. This is the first time I’ve done a sort of ‘bootcamp’ challenge. In the past I’ve had ideas like; “wouldn’t it be cool to do a day long design project, or a weekend branding project...for fun”. But due to timing they’ve never materialised. Challenges are a good way to push yourself into something you wouldn’t normally do, or try out something you’ve been talking or dreaming about but haven’t yet taken action... 

...I’ll see you on the other side. And if you’re curious you can check back to see what I come up with each day. 

Hope you guys will have a think about challenges you might like to try in your own life, even if for a single week!

Much love,
Dan