The picture you see above (without the redactions) has been my desktop image for the last year.
I’ve tried a few different motivational tricks to get me through NaNo– to keep me inspired by my own progress, even when it feels like I’m going nowhere. This little color-coded tracker system is by far one of my favorites.
I’ve done this for a few of my NaNo projects. Sometimes the boundaries of my chapters change a little during the month, then I have to reformat the whole thing mid-month, or otherwise get really confused. That’s a bit easier with Casters’ Court, because the chapters switch point-of-view each chapter. There often isn’t much room for flexibility here. That structure has allowed me to have some borders defined for a while . . . though that doesn’t mean it’s all planned out.
That’s what all those grey boxes are. I have a vague structure for the latter part of this arc, but not a detailed outline. That’s my job for the rest of the month!
This picture is accurate as of the time this post was scheduled. I’ll definitely post an updated ‘after’ picture post-NaNo so you can see how much progress I made. So, with all that preamble, here’s more context on what’s going on here:
- Solid green chapters have been written, edited, and published on Tapas. They’re available to read now!
- Shaded green chapters have been written, edited, and sometimes posted to Tapas, but they haven’t been made available yet.
- Striped green chapters have been fully drafted but not yet edited.
- Yellow chapters have a draft started but not completed.
- Red chapters have yet to be started.
- Grey chapters (as mentioned above) haven’t even been outlined yet, and are rising my stress levels as we speak.
As for the redacted character names, you may have noticed that the points-of-view of Casters’ Court follow a pattern. If you haven’t, it’s far easier to see in this graphic than on the chapter list in Tapas. The point-of-view order progresses in cycles, of sorts, with a new character added at the beginning of each cycle. So when you look at it like that, the chapters progress:
- Phoenix, Mage
- Plex, Phoenix, Mage
- Symon, Plex, [Phoenix], [Mage]
Thus, by the end of the arc, I’ll have incorporated five other characters’ points-of-view, in addition to the four you’ve already seen from. Spoiler alert: they’re not all members of the Court.
I’d prefer to keep them somewhat a secret, though, which is why they’re redacted in this graphic. It’s totally not so I won’t be held accountable if I change my mind before they get published. Nope. Not at all.
Although it takes a little time away from my writing, I find it ridiculously motivating to color the squares yellow after starting a chapter, then striped green once I finish it. I save the picture and update my desktop every time, because watching red squares turn not-red reminds me that progress is being made. I’m a visual person, and it’s a delightfully visual reminder.
For the record, another motivational method I’ve tried is painting one fingernail for each 5,000 words I write. It’s especially fun because, when I’m inevitably asked why only some of my nails are painted, I get to tell someone about NaNo. And, also, my non-NaNo friends get to give me judgy looks when it’s halfway through the month and I only have 3 nails painted. That’s pretty motivating too.
Does anyone else have quirky motivational strategies for large projects?