For anyone who has been following along for the for the past few months, I have been attempting a number of tasks, most of which were in response to my PhD thesis failing after 8 years of hard work. I acknowledge that, yes, this was probably twice as long as most people put into a PhD with half the results, but this is the last time you’re going to hear me talk about it (aside from the fact that blog is called “Dr. Loser“) because I’m over it!
This change in attitude has come from a number of places, most of which have played out right here on this blog. I set up some “quests” for myself to attempt as part of my current voluntary retirement from the workforce. There were some ups-and-downs when engaged with these arguably very fun ideas, but in the end everything I’ve been doing has contributed to making me a happier person after being so incredibly miserable about one year ago.
I spent months re-listening to a lifetime of my favourite music as I attempted to rank my Top 30 Albums Ever. Then I re-kindled my joy with the Angry Birds app, by stripping away the stress of point accumulation and just learning to play for the love of the game. And I found a way to balance out my obsession with watching great TV and movies without forcing myself to watch everything that’s out there until I was sick. And I also tried to train to get myself in shape… which in the end, like everything else, was just part of the process towards hopefully making me a better writer.
The worst part about doing that PhD was not the failing, but ending up just hating the act of writing. What’s the point of having a doctorate in Creative Writing if you actually hate writing?!
So I got an idea for a novel that was inspired by the creative component of my thesis: an entire novel comprised of inter-locking one-page short stories. This time though, I was going to make it about something fun and goofy, not academic and serious. And then The Incredible Insane Challenge was born.
The story I came up with is about a boy who must complete one crazy task for every year of his life. This is part of a cosmic challenge where he is scored for his progress in each task, and the points accumulated can help him to win cash and prizes. When he gets to his 18th year will have one huge task that he must finally overcome in order to save the universe from total destruction. However, if he dies at any point along the way then he gets to be re-born to try all over again, but he only has 100 lives to attempt this full challenge.
When the novel picks up he is already on his 91st life, and feeling very confident about earning tons of points and eventually overcoming that final difficult task long before hitting that last life.
While writing I let the world in on my process with my Live Novel-ing concept. I was willing to show anyone who was interested the steps I was taking everyday as I crafted each individual short story. I started by freewriting for 30 minutes, then revising that mass of words into a more coherent one-page, three-paragraph short story, and finally editing that story into something a bit more polished. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a consistent and regular writing practice that put the joy of writing back into my life.
And now I really only have one part left to write.
My main character must attempt that final task, the most difficult one of them all: “Protect the door from your enemies.”
During this task he will be constantly under attack, without any break or rest for one full year. If he does not finally protect the door then the world will be destroyed.
For this part of the story, I’m going to break from the one-page format in order to capture the relentlessness of this task. And to do this I’m going to attempt my own incredible insane challenge – freewriting for 12 straight hours.
I’ve set up a few ground rules for myself though:
–for every hour of writing I will take a 5 minute break (therefore it will take 13 hours to finish)
-should not stop typing for more than 25 seconds
-must produce a minimum 2,000 words per hour
Just like the boy in the story, I’ve been practicing for this moment, and I think I can come close to pulling it off. I’m sure much of it will be wacky rambling at a certain point, but hey, it’s just freewriting!
You can watch right here as I will live stream a Google Hang-Out that will show my Google Doc as it is filled out in real time freewriting. If you have been shared into my Google Drive “Live Novel-ing” folder you can also watch along with the file inside there (or if you’re interested follow me by using the Google+ widget on this page). Should be starting around 11am KST, but it’ll be going on all day so check it out when you get a chance.
Wish me luck!