Saturday, 1 February 2014

The 30 day challenge!

Challenges have never been my forte. Competitions: Yes. I have always shied away from challenges for some or other reason. But deep down there had always been this wish of taking up a challenge and completing it successfully. Every time I see my friend Prem ( taking up a challenge, I have always been intrigued to take up one myself. Though, I never found the right situation to start. This New Year’s day, I took a 30 day challenge of writing/contributing to my novel every day. I have successfully accomplished the same and wanted to pen down the experience of the entire challenge.

How did it Begin?
It began with the little reading party I attended on Jan 1st. A detailed blog on the reading party is on its way. Essentially, every person in the reading party took up a challenge- ‘A 30 day challenge’ which we agreed to do, come what may.

My Challenge
As I’m working on my first novel which I’m keen on completing (hopefully publish too) before this year end, I was enthusiastic in taking a challenge pertaining to that. My challenge was: Write/contribute for my novel every day at least 15 minutes. This included,
1.       Idea generation
2.       Scene building
3.       Research
4.       Random scene writing
5.       Anything that I felt will help my novel.
You can find the detailed day-to-day activities of my challenge below.

When I stated my challenge to the group, it sounded so easy to the extent of over-confidence that I will sail through with ease. In fact, that was one of the reasons why I chose this challenge. But I was not prepared for the reality shock. With my work pressure and commitments, I hardly found time to spare for my challenge.
As I am in editorial writing and business development by profession, my days are long and exhaustive. I felt drained at the end of the day and many at times went blank trying to focus on my challenge. The next best enemy was my laziness. I’m not a very organized person by nature and I do things my way. So dedicating 15 minutes every day seemed like a burden many days.

How I overcame..
I made a spreadsheet in Google Drive and shared with my close circle. In other words, I made myself accountable. This gave me that little push everyday to concentrate on the challenge. On days of exhaustive work, I did soft-paddling by settling for lighter work on the novel like familiarizing with the writing software, family tree of the characters in the novel, drawing the timeline for the novel and so on. They made the effort lighter for the day and ensured I don’t fail in my challenge too.
I started using the concept of visualization and affirmation to overcome my tiredness when I sit for my challenge. I kept visualizing myself giving interviews about my book as a famous author and people buying my book and talking about it. I also kept telling myself, “I’m an awesome writer and I’m successful in this challenge. I’m writing now and I’m concentrating on my novel now!”
(Affirmations are generally in present tense with a lot of adjectives that gives you the positive energy and confidence to something. Visualization is another concept in psychology where you focus on the end result and where you want to be. You make a mental picture of that and keep thinking about it.)

Benefits of this Challenge:
This challenge taught me a certain basic lessons of life which I had been ignoring so far. Also as an author, it has immensely benefitted me. For a clear picture, I’m putting it as points below.

Basic Lessons of Life:
  • Ø  Importance of commitment to something.
  • Ø  Planning and its benefits (though I had been studying this and applying it in profession alone)
  • Ø  Perseverance and dedication.
  • Ø  Methodological approach to every situation

As Author:
I initially thought writing a novel is easy and all I have to do is write in a stretch from page 1 to 300. This challenge made me realize a lot breaking the misconceptions I had.
  • Ø  How to structure a novel
  • Ø  Scene building and co-ordination
  • Ø  Characterization
  • Ø  Research on ground work
  • Ø  The various aspects of novel writing and publishing (Editing, self-publishing, etc)

I can now proudly say, I’m better author today (31st Jan) than what I was on Jan 1st.

End Note:
Now I have the complete skeleton of my novel ready along with the partition and scene co-ordination. For February, my challenge shall remain the same: Write/contribute at least 15 minutes a day to my novel. But with a slight twist: finish at least 10 scenes by Feb end and finish my research on the contemporary events of the period in which the novel is set in.

Do give your comments and feedback on this. Also, any other inputs to develop further. Thanks in advance.