A month ago I started questioning my ability to stay focused on thing I like. Kill the procrastination monkey is the first thing to achieve any goal in life and I felt that I was losing that battle. Last year was not easy, mostly because I started feeling incapable to achieve anything useful in work. This, in turn, feeds the procrastination monkey, causing more frustration and so on. An evil infinite explosive mental and motivational cycle that drown you, slowly, silently. I had to break the cycle!
But where I could start? I decided to stress myself on an old obsession of mine: writing. As you know I have stories in mind and I have a deep need to tell these stories. There are many ways to express these stories (music or gamedev are the most important one for me!) but writing it is much less complex: it is just you, the story and a piece of paper. There is no technology involved, no extra abilities such as visual arts, no constraints, no distractions. I did not want to feed p-monkey with a lot of fake-problems to justify myself for not doing anything every day. So, I took a piece of paper and I wrote on it: I’ll write One Million Word of fiction. It is important to have some kind of metric to measure your progress and the number of words written is a perfect metric! Every night, at the end of the day, I can update the counter, see the target approaching and feel good about myself.
A month is passed and I want to share this small step with you.
The First Month Challenge
One Million words are a long-term, almost metaphysical, goal. I obviously need also some short-term goal to track challenge myself on something tangible. I decided to start with a very small task, because small is feasible and small is better than nothing at all. So, for this month I decided to write an average number of words per day of 500. Five hundred words are less than 1 hour at day but it is enough to write a full novel (50.000 words) every three month! This is almost 4 novel per year! It is an amazing Stephen King-like average! Yes, I know that writing a novel is much more than this – with editing, reviewing, rewriting and all the rest – but writing a first draft for a novel in three months is much more than many people are able to do and an amazing self-esteem booster! I think it is a nice starting goal for a “beginner”.
So I started writing, not a novel but a series of short and flash story. Unfortunately I cannot show you anything for now because are in Italian and mostly unedited. :)
First Month Review
This is the graph of the first month! After all, I still am an engineer and I love graphs. As you can see I was quite constant and this is amazing! Unfortunately there is that ugly line of zeros between August 30th and September 3rd. In those days I lost my focus. But I am not sad for that, I’m happy that I was able to go back on track! There is also another two zero days. Those days are when my laptop exploded (not literally) and I was away from home, so I lost a lot of time.
With an average words per day of 632.28, the small challenge of this month is achieved! At the end of the month I have 4 short stories and 2 failed attempts (I started writing but the story was not strong enough and I preferred to write something else).
I’m quite happy with myself. After this month I feel more confident in myself, I learned to wake up early, to keep a nice streak of “small tasks”. I started to read regularly again, and I am, in general, more organized. It is amazing how a small “forced” task as “write at least 500 words per day” can be so beneficial!
Next Month Challenge?
In the next month I want to keep a 600+ words per day average with at most 2 zero-days. Wish me luck.
But how about the long-term one million challenge? Until today I wrote 20233 words, 979767 words are still missing for a total of 2.02% progress. Estimated Date 12/12/2019.
Header image by timetrax23, CC-BY-SA 2007