I’m taking a break from my main novel to finish the first draft of this year’s NaNoNovel, a sci-fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I only wrote about 3600 words in January 2018, letting myself work on some other creative projects, and in February so far have written 6900 words of prose (I’m not counting outline words here, although they are important). Considering my slow progress, I think it’ll be worthwhile to use progress reports for this project as well.
My goal is to write to the midpoint of the novel by the end of the month. If I can keep up the pace from this week, I’ll just make it.
This week I:
- Swapped POV for two scenes
- Prepared detailed beat outlines for three scenes (see process notes)
- Wrote three scenes
Stats for the week:
- Wrote 3692 words of beat outlines
- Wrote 4618 words of prose
- 5 Pomodoro sessions
I’m trying out an additional step in my new writing process, in between creating a scene card and writing the scene: a detailed, beat-by-beat outline of the scene in bullet point format. I decide what the emotional thrust of the scene is by preparing the scene card, but only create a rough outline of action. In this new outlining stage, I’m making decisions about exactly how the scene goes down, from setting to stage direction.
While I write almost as many words in the beat outline as in the scene, it feels easier to make decisions in the bullet point format, a brain trick — and then writing from the outline also goes easier, letting me focus on making the words flow well without stressing about what’s supposed to happen next. It feels like I’m giving myself an assignment with each bullet: next sentence, cover this topic. So far, it makes writing feel much easier, so we’ll see if it feels worthwhile in the long run, and if I decide to carry this technique over when I go back to writing my main novel.
Even with a detailed scene outline, I’m changing exactly how things happen and how people react, but I think that’s a sign I’m still cognizant of the overall scene even while I’m focused on drafting, or that I’ve come up with a better way to do things than I outlined.
Work plan for the next week (Feb. 19-25):
- Finish scene card for Belle’s next scene and following Beast scene
- Create beat outline for Belle’s next scene, Beast’s next scene, and following Beast scene
- Write Belle’s next scene and Beast’s next scene
After the introspection and planning of December, I got excited to take action in January. I didn’t do what I’d intended during my December goal-setting, but I decided to follow my enthusiasm instead, with some home improvement projects and a new creative idea. It turned into nesting kind of month.
As a finish to my annual planning, I selected my three guiding words for 2018.
Last month’s review.
Creatively Productive — productive though off plan ;)
Playing around with layouts and content for a weekly planner
At the beginning of the month, I stumbled across a fancy planner, and realized that I could do just as good a job designing a custom planner. I’ve spent years refining my goal setting and planning techniques during my annual review process, and could meld my review process into a planner format. I wound up spending time on brainstorming, developing content (5.5 hours) and designing (9.5 hours) a rough draft planner rather than writing.
How’d I Do On My January Creative Goals?
- Continued group writing sessions, and re-started solo writing sessions
- After-work weekly writing session x3 (goal = 4)
- Weekly morning writing meetup x3 (goal = 4)
- 12 hours active writing time
- Only wrote 4 Pomodoros all month
- Drew x2 (goal = 5)
- Wrote more of Beauty and the Beast, but not as much as I’d put as my goal
- Did not finish re-reading WIP novel draft
Clearly, just saying I’m going to draw doesn’t make me actually draw — and saying I’m going to do Pomodoros doesn’t make me hit “start” on that timer ;)
Creative Work I want to Accomplish In February
- Finish rough planner design
- Rough design of a mountain poster, inspired by 59 Parks (something I’ve toyed with for years but never gotten more than a couple hours into)
- Finish writing to midpoint of Beauty and the Beast retelling
process goals for Creative Work In February
For February, I’m going to make art practice more learning-focused; I signed up for Skillshare’s 99 cent promotion, so I picked out some classes to try. Traditionally, I hate video, but I know it should be an effective tool for learning art techniques.
- Writing sessions / productivity:
- After-work weekly writing session x4
- Weekly morning writing meetup x3
- At least 1 pomodoro at each writing session
- Watch a skillshare class each week:
For the past few years, I’ve followed Chris Brogan’s advice and chosen three guiding words to serve as my theme for the year, as an accompaniment to my more in-depth annual review process. “Share” was one of my theme words in the past that I found particularly useful to me.
For 2018, my guiding words are:
Each year I complete a personal annual review, but this year I’m adapting it into a format to accompany my monthly reviews and sharing it with you.
I’d like 2018 to be a year of visible accomplishments. To me, that means finishing things: completing my novel revision, writing the remainder of this year’s NaNoWriMo project, and catching up on home improvement projects. In other aspects of my life, I’d like to have visible progress to point to, something I can show (or count) that I’ve accomplished some things I’d like to. The three words I’ve chosen to guide me this year are enough, practice, and finish.
My creative focus for this year was revising my work-in-progress novel, The Second Rebellion. I felt a little burnout and decided to inject a little play into my work by participating in Inktober and writing a fun retelling of Beauty and the Beast during NaNoWriMo.
See my comprehensive creative annual review, covering both my writing and illustration.
December is a reflective month for me, between doing a personal annual review and a creative annual review. It’s also a month of recovery, after the intensity of November’s NaNoWriMo challenge.
Last month’s review.
Creatively Productive — doing pretty well
- After years of putting it off, I finally created a Society6 shop and uploaded six designs! One thing I get to cross off the creative bucket list ;) Five were adapted from previous work, and I created one new illustration.
- I re-read the draft of my Beauty and the Beast retelling that I wrote during NaNoWriMo. It’s worth finishing, phew! And I think the scene cards are working — I didn’t find any scenes that obviously needed to be removed.
- I started re-reading the draft of my work-in-progress novel. I spent a lot of time over the spring reworking the first quarter, and I think that work paid off.
- I did two outlining sessions and one actual writing session, where I wrote 2800 words over 5 pomodoros :)
- I completed a creative annual review for my writing and graphic design productivity, work and practice. I evaluated how I did in 2017, and set goals for 2018.
Creative Work I want to Accomplish In January
- Finish re-reading WIP novel draft
- Write more of Beauty and the Beast first draft
- Write scenes I’ve already created scene cards for
- Prepare additional scene cards, and finish preparing the ones I’ve started
- Goal = finish writing Act 2
process goals for Creative Work In January
I’m going to try following the creative process goals outlined in my 2017 creative annual review:
- Complete 7 Pomodoros a week
- Continue attending group writing sessions, and re-start solo writing sessions
- Draw one day a week