On Setting the Pace

Time to dip into the nitty gritty. I have the projects I want to focus on this year. Now I need to wrangle them into shape, and I need to decide how long I have to do that. I need deadlines.

I’ve got a problem, though. A few problems, actually. For one, I have a habit of giving myself goals that prove too daunting. Solution? I need to break my big lofty goals into smaller, much more manageable ones. Great! Strange Company will update chapter by chapter, Wyrd Girl episode by episode. I can focus on an installment at a time.

Second problem: I have a lot of trouble with discipline and focus. This makes self-imposed deadlines difficult to stick to, to say the least. I guess that’s part of the reason I started this blog. I need a way to give myself some outside pressure. Even if nobody reads it, it’s still a public place where I‘ve charged myself with making at least one post a week. I’ve slipped a bit the past two weeks (it’s after 8:30 PM my time posting this, yikes!) but dang it, I’m going to get a post up every Friday! But the point of this particular post is to make my goals and deadlines known.

My third problem? I still haven’t decided when I want to post the first chapter of Strange Company, or the first episode of Wyrd Girl. How can I figure out my deadlines for these two projects if I can’t decide on that?Figuring out a deadline for Blythe vs. the Werewolf was easy. It’s a self contained story, and I want to post it throughout October. Whether I’ll post a page a day or post them in batches doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that by October 1st of this year, that comic must be complete and ready to post.

But why can’t I decide on deadlines for my other two major projects?

I have enough material to wade through for both Strange Company and Wyrd Girl. I’m a bunch of revisions and illustrations away from the first few installmenst of each being ready to read. The problem, though, is that I don’t know how long it’s going to take me on average to finish these installments.

Here are the things I do know: I need a buffer. I want to have at least six installments of each finished before I post any of them. I also want to start posting them this year, and I want to post them at consistent intervals. I want to get things rolling so I can finally put these stories out there where people can read and—I hope—enjoy them. I want to do this without burning myself out.

I’m not in a rush, but I’m kind of in a rush.

Smaller goals. That’s the key. I need to take these installments and break them up into their component tasks.

For Strange Company, an illustrated serial, that means:

  • draft
  • first revisions
  • image thumbnails
  • final illustrations
  • final revisions
  • formatting

For Wyrd Girl, a comic, that means:

  • script draft
  • revisions (via thumbnails)
  • pencils
  • inks and lettering
  • shading (and color?)
  • formatting

Great! I’ve got smaller points of focus that I can work on every month. So what do I want to work on for say, the next three months?A rule I’ve set for myself is that I can work on a maximum of two projects per month. Since I’m counting weekly blog posts as a project, that leaves me with one non-blog project to work on each month.

This was kind of an accidental rule. See, when I put together the Writing and Revision Goals spread in my Project Log (I may talk more about that in another post), I only had two lines of space per month. It‘s a limiter, but that’s a good thing.I want to be flexible with my goals, and I want to be additive with them, rather than subtractive. Better to start with too few tasks and add more than to realize I don’t have the time to finish everything I set out to do.

Anyway, time to attach tasks from now through April. It won’t be a complete list since I‘m still working it out, but it’s a start.

The first thing I want to focus on is revisions for the Strange Company prologue. February, being the shortest month, is also the best time to give myself a bench test of sorts. Like I said before, I don’t know how long it’ll take me to finish each installment of Strange Company or Wyrd Girl. I can use February, though, to gauge how much work I can get done in a month, to dip my toes in and see how much I can handle. If I finish the prologue revisions with time to spare, cool! I can add the Chapter 1 revisions to my February goals and assign more deadlines from there.

I have no idea what to work on in March, but I’ll likely continue working on Strange Company. It all depends on how well February goes.

As for April, it’s a Camp NaNo month, which makes it a good time to draft Blythe vs. the Werewolf. It’s possible I’ll continue working on it from then on so I can have it finished for October.

So! Here are the deadlines, as they stand:

  • Strange Company prologue first revisions: February 28th
  • Strange Company Chapter 1 first revisions: March 31st
  • Blythe vs. the Werewolf script draft: April 30th

Only three actual deadlines, but hey, I’m pacing myself and adjusting as I go is part of the plan. Here’s to not spreading myself too thin!

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