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I did it! I submitted the story to the two competitions. I've just done something that I always dreamed of doing but didn't think I'd quite have the courage to do.

 

I'm not dying of terror. I've accepted that I've done all I can by writing a story I liked... and I'm proud that I've been able to take this step. I'm still able to breathe... which is a good job because I won't hear anything for months, if at all.

 

I intend for this to be the first of many. Thanks for all your help and encouragement. It's made the difference between talking about doing something and actually doing something.

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28 minutes ago, Harriet said:

 

...Real world/paper publishers are probably not going to accept short stories from unknown writers. 

 

That's so true. It appears that we've approached the same problem from different angles but I'm probably going to give those markets a try.

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Week 4, day 5 summary - Oct 11th

 

Target 1: edit for word-count requirements, find pandoc command-lines that produce files that conform to the competitions' requirements

 

The title of this target became obsolete fairly quickly. Anyway, I submitted the story to the two competitions. I feel a huge sense of achievement with this... and also one of opportunity.

 

Target 2: replace one of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island circuit

 

It was strength-training. I continued making small, incremental improvements with form.

  

Target 3: start work on time four times

  

I did start work on time.

 

Whole week summary - Week 4

 

By far the biggest deal this week was the fact that I submitted the short story to the competitions. I started off the challenge not quite believing I would go through with it but I've actually done it a week early. I'm really grateful to everyone here who encouraged me and gave me advice. It's overwhelmingly unlikely that I'll win or be short-listed but this is still a bucket-list moment. Due to the fact that I completed this a week early, Week 5 will be spent preparing for the next challenge.

 

Again, when starting this challenge, I didn't quite believe that I would be able to complete the Wii Fit U Island Circuit run, but it turns out my skinny legs are capable of something after all (and they're not quite as skinny any more). This (small) achievement has given me greater confidence to keep pushing towards that half-marathon.

 

I did pretty poorly with starting work on time (I only did it twice). I'm going to do a mini-respawn for Week 5 and tackle this particular quest head-on.

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5 hours ago, The Hero of Time said:

Week 4, day 5 summary - Oct 11th

 

Target 1: edit for word-count requirements, find pandoc command-lines that produce files that conform to the competitions' requirements

 

The title of this target became obsolete fairly quickly. Anyway, I submitted the story to the two competitions. I feel a huge sense of achievement with this... and also one of opportunity.

 

 

 

Hey, congratulations!

 

I hope you get some positive feedback and that it spurs you on to further glory!

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50 minutes ago, Quirky Quinn said:

Hey, congratulations!

 

Thank you!

 

50 minutes ago, Quirky Quinn said:

I hope you get some positive feedback and that it spurs you on to further glory!

 

I hope so, too, although I'm aware it's far more likely that I won't hear a word.

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Week 5, day 1 summary - Oct 14th

 

Target 1: prepare for a writing quest in the next challenge

 

My original plan had me completing rewrites and submitting the story this week. However, I finished that a week early. Instead, I've decided to spend this week preparing to do a writing quest in the next cycle --- I want to keep the momentum going.

 

I'm going to take Harriet's advice to treat this as a skill-building exercise and "write ten more". Except, I'm going to write five more... in the next challenge. This is going to mean writing one per week so I'm planning to do 500-word flash-fiction. This, in itself, is going to be a big challenge --- I like to mull things so writing that quickly is a big change in my approach. I'm going to come up with 10 story ideas this week and narrow them down to five in time for the next challenge.

 

To that end, I completed a 3-day email crash-course in generating story ideas --- the first item on https://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html --- from Friday to Monday (okay, it took me four days but who's counting?). I now have 26 story ideas and a system to create more. I feel somewhat ambivalent about the ideas I've generated --- they're not what you would call original and they don't feel like 'inspiration'; they're also all based around the same three characters. However, the systematic approach suits me. I'm going to assume the best and treat this as a skill that will improve with practise.

 

Over the next few days I plan to narrow those ideas down to ten and refine those further. I'm also going to make some notes from the WikiHow page on writing flash-fiction.

 

Target 2: replace another of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island Circuit

  

It was strength training so I haven't done this yet.

 

I bought the new dumbbells on the weekend so I've now jumped from 2.5kg to 3.9kg (8.5lb). I use the dumbbells during my "Free Step" warm-up --- swinging my arms while stepping on and off the Balance Board; this is about 1,000 steps but 500 swings of the arms --- I found this tough and struggled to lift my arms towards the end. I also use them during the Rowing Squat and the Jackknife --- these are both in the three circuits. The fact that my  arms were so tired from the warm up made the press-ups more work. However, my form was no worse than last week... but no better. I had incremental improvement with the rest of the exercises but I did sweat a lot more than recently and was out of breath more. My arms are still tired today.

  

Target 3: start work on time five times

  

I had my mini-respawn after my poor performance last week and approached this with new determination. I started work on time.

 

We tried Xena's breakfast with plain, full-fat, Greek yoghurt; fresh fruit (because we forgot to thaw the frozen stuff); and almonds. It tasted good, made a nice change from eggs and bacon, and was quick to prepare. We've remembered to take some fruit out of the freezer for Wednesday.

Edited by The Hero of Time
Corrected typo in Target 3 title.
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On 10/8/2019 at 3:41 PM, Harriet said:

...I have a story that's just waiting for me to choose the right place and format it...

 

On the subject of formatting, I've just come across https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html. It seems to be the definitive guide to short-story formatting.

 

If anyone reading this uses LaTeX, it looks to me that those guidelines can be applied by using the sffms document class. However, I haven't tested this yet.

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Week 5, day 2 summary - Oct 15th

 

Target 1: prepare for a writing quest in the next challenge

 

I made the notes from the WikiHow flash-fiction-writing page.

 

I used the sffms LaTeX document class with pandoc to produce a PDF that conforms closely to William Shunn's definitive format---I had to create a pandoc template to do so. The only thing missing is the word "about" from the word-count (my automated word-count now rounds to the nearest 100 as he recommends).

 

I've looked at the challenge dates and realized that there's a week's gap before the next (I'm not sure that's made clear anywhere else) so there isn't quite as much urgency to the preparation. I'm thinking about doing the 10 day How to Craft a Killer Short Story email course as part of that preparation but I'm concerned that I may be trying to cram too much into too little time. Then again, if I'm still finishing that course by the start of the next challenge, it's probably not a problem.

 

Target 2: replace another of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island Circuit

 

I did this. I ran the Island Circuit twice and completed it both times. The first time was a little over 2.6km, the second was 2.8km. I then did the short version of the Basic Run, which I sprinted. I've updated Thursday's routine to finish with the long version of the Basic Run but I feel as if I could probably do more.

 

Just to put me to shame my wife then did the 20-minute version of the Island Circuit and covered over 6km (her foot is feeling better).  

  

Target 3: start work on time five times

  

I started work on time. We had bacon and eggs (and mushrooms). Not much drama here because I just got up earlier as part of my re-spawn.

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Week 5, day 3 summary - Oct 16th

 

Target 1: prepare for a writing quest in the next challenge

 

I made my short-list of ten story ideas. I started the ten-day course---if the first day is anything to go by I should be able to fit this in. I fiddled with my pandoc sffms word-count until it looked the way I wanted---sffms PDFs now look just like Shunn's format  I think that went pretty well.

 

Target 2: replace another of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island Circuit

  

It was strength-training. I can't say the Free Step warm-up was any easier than last time. However, overall, I didn't sweat quite as much and I wasn't quite as out of breath. I had enough strength to improve my press-up form and the lunges are becoming a little easier. The dumbbells have definitely served their purpose in making my routine harder.

  

Target 3: start work on time five times

  

I started work on time. We had the yoghurt/fruit/almonds. I had the frozen fruit which I didn't enjoy as much as the fresh fruit... but then it has been in the freezer for rather a long time.

 

I'm glad I took the failure of last week and turned it into determination rather than defeatism---that's an accomplishment for me.

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Week 5, day 4 summary - Oct 17th

 

Target 1: prepare for a writing quest in the next challenge

 

I narrowed down my ten story ideas to five. It's just possible I may come up with new ideas between now and the next challenge and I'm not going to rule out including them. Then again, there will be plenty of time to use new ideas in other stories---I'm still getting used to this idea. I plan to start fleshing the five ideas out today.

 

I did the second day of the Killer Short Story course. It took a little longer but I still think I can fit it in. In fact, yesterday was rather busy with work and some home technical issues, and I still did it.

 

Target 2: replace another of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island Circuit

  

I did the two Island Circuits and also sprinted the long version of the Basic Run. I did 2.799km in the first Island Circuit; then I was so annoyed at missing the 2.8km mark I ended up doing over 3km in the second. I've realized that, rather than concentrating on distance, I've just started running faster; that isn't really what I want to do so I'm going to focus on making the runs longer in future.

 

This is the last time doing the runs during this challenge so it's worth just taking a moment to review. At the start of the challenge I doubted I'd be able to do the Island Circuit at all and I thought it was probably unrealistic to do two of them in the same routine. It turns out my body is more capable than I gave it credit. The crazy idea of doing a half-marathon now doesn't seem quite as insane. I actually have visible muscles in my calves now (this is kind of a shock)!

  

Target 3: start work on time five times

  

I started work on time. We had bacon, eggs, and mushrooms.

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On 10/16/2019 at 6:03 AM, The Hero of Time said:

I've looked at the challenge dates and realized that there's a week's gap before the next (I'm not sure that's made clear anywhere else) so there isn't quite as much urgency to the preparation.

 

We call it "zero week". A lot of people like having a little break from the structure of the challenge, as well as some time to plan, re-group, and test out new ideas. Some people don't like it, and that's ok...people customize and keep their old challenge going longer or start the new one early. Whatever works for you is great.

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7 hours ago, Xena said:

 

We call it "zero week". A lot of people like having a little break from the structure of the challenge, as well as some time to plan, re-group, and test out new ideas. Some people don't like it, and that's ok...people customize and keep their old challenge going longer or start the new one early. Whatever works for you is great.

 

Thank you, Xena, that's a useful clarification. As things stand, I like having the week clear to review what I've learnt from the previous challenge and allow that to inform my preparations for the next.

 

I see that the move to five-week challenges is a recent development. Obviously this is my first but five-weeks felt about about right. Do you know the motivation behind the change or how well it's been received?

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Week 5, day 5 summary - Oct 18th

 

Target 1: prepare for a writing quest in the next challenge

 

I did the next day of the ten-day course. I used the character profile template from https://blog.reedsy.com/character-profile/ to start fleshing out one of my characters.

 

Target 2: replace another of the Basic Runs in my interval training routine with the Island Circuit

  

It was strength-training. The Free Step warm-up with the dumbbells was a little easier. I improved my press-up form and got right down with my nose touching the floor for all of them. Lunges were better.

  

Target 3: start work on time five times

  

I started work on time.

 

Whole week summary - Week 5

 

My main success this week was starting work on time every day after my poor performance last week. In the past, I would probably have given up after week 4 but this challenge helped me to push through and try again with new determination.

 

I'm pleased that I was able to keep the momentum going after submitting the competition story. I'm a little nervous about writing a total of five stories for the next challenge but I'm going to give it my best---I may be over-preparing because of that pressure.

 

I was able to meet the running target without too much difficulty and surprised myself by feeling as if I could do more.

 

I also reached my ideal BMI on Friday! This has been a three month journey from 79.5kg to 72kg with the help of the NF bodyweight strength-training routine and the NF diet. Actually, I overshot my target and ended up at 71kg so I'm now trying to gain a little weight while my wife is still trying to lose it.

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Whole challenge summary---Level 1 - Kokiri Forest

 

I've learnt, from this Level 1 challenge, that I'm capable of more than I realize. I have previously focused on my limitations but this exercise helped me to focus on opportunities and possibilities. The result is that I was able to push through the fear of submitting my writing for scrutiny. I hope that these challenges will help me to do the same in future.

 

I also learned that my body is capable of more than I realize. I seriously doubted that I'd be able to complete the Island Circuit in this first challenge and I yet I've been able to do two of them in the same routine. In fact, I feel as if I could have done more. I'm now looking for some running shoes so that I can start running in the outdoors.

 

My one regret about this challenge is my performance on Week 4 when it came to starting work on time. However, I'm proud of the fact that I picked myself up for week 5 and followed a failure with a success. This gives value to week 4 in that I learnt from what went wrong and took action that made a difference.

 

Thank you @Harriet and @Xena . Your support and advice were invaluable. This really does feel as if it could be a life-changing moment. I'm now off to fill in one of those challenge review forms.

 

Farewell Level 1. My memories of you shall always be fond. Onwards, now, to new challenges and to break the curse on the Deku Tree...

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3 hours ago, The Hero of Time said:

I see that the move to five-week challenges is a recent development. Obviously this is my first but five-weeks felt about about right. Do you know the motivation behind the change or how well it's been received?

 

I sort of know the motivation.

 

The challenges were originally 6 weeks. As I remember (and I might have some detail wrong), Steve based that design on published research (behavioral psychology) showing that it takes 6 weeks to form a habit. I don't really know the details of that. It sounded good.  When I started, the challenges were 6 weeks, so that feels "right" to me. They were different...there was more time to get into a rhythm, more time to lose motivation and quit, more time to make up for a bad week, more ups and downs. So yeah, different.

 

Then around the time Steve's book came out, the challenge format changed to 4-weeks to match the book. I haven't read the book, so I don't really know the thinking. If I had to guess, I would guess that it's easier to bring in new people with a shorter challenge, and easier to have people complete a shorter challenge and feel a sense of accomplishment. During the first couple 4-week challenges, they were back-to-back (no zero week). Many people did NOT like that. It was exhausting...no time to read peoples wrap-up threads or think about what you were doing next or reflect on what you had done. So we kept the 4-week challenges, but got zero week back. It's been like that for quite a while.

 

I don't know the official reasons for going to 5-week challenges, but I know why some of us like the idea. I'm guessing it's a compromise between 4 and 6 weeks. I think the main things are to get into more of a flow and to be able to work around a disruption. You can have a week of travel or get sick during the challenge and still have enough time to make some progress the rest of the time. Something like that.

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2 hours ago, Xena said:

...I think the main things are to get into more of a flow and to be able to work around a disruption. You can have a week of travel or get sick during the challenge and still have enough time to make some progress the rest of the time. Something like that.

 

That makes a lot of sense to me. If the challenges were four weeks, I'd probably wait until I had a clear four weeks before starting a new one. With five weeks, I can start one even if I think I'm going to have a slow week.

 

Thank you for that history and your insight.

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