During July this year I completed the 30 day, 30 prompts worldbuilding challenge, World Anvil Summer Camp 2019! In this post I’ll be going over my positive outcomes and also my failures so that I can improve for next year and help you avoid the same mistakes that I made!
TL;DR at the beginning!
I managed to complete all 30 prompts! I created some fantastic concepts for my world and have left areas to expand upon now the challenge is over.
I tried to pace myself this year and not rush through them all. This worked well because I didn’t suffer from creative burnout, but it was much harder to keep the momentum going and I flagged towards the end.
I became demotivated with my worldbuilding process because it was hard for me to create 30 polished pieces of work and I didn’t get that satisfaction of calling something done before moving on to the next article.
Predictions For Next Year
I’m going to try a different workflow for this type of challenge next year so that I can manage and achieve my goals easier. This may include tighter deadlines but with a reduced workload.
Now, in more detail!
I completed all 30 of the worldbuilding prompts during July 2019 but something just didn’t click this year and I felt a little demotivated at my progress by the end of it.
This blog post is a reflection on my thoughts so that I can overcome my challenges for next year (and maybe help you avoid the same mistakes that I made)!
My productivity leading up to and at the start of the challenge was at its peak. I am an active part of the World Anvil community and we always get HYPED for these big challenges (and their big prizes, amirite?).
It feels like the adrenaline rush you get at the start of a timed puzzle challenge in a video game – you have a rough idea of what to expect, but no clear details until the clock starts ticking. The month begins and WOOSH there is a surge of enthusiastic worldbuilders typing their damn hardest to create the best articles they can in their worlds.
Suddenly it feels like a 100m sprint. The competitors are also the wholesome crowds that are cheering on their fellow worldbuilders. “I’ve completed 10 already!!”, “I’m about to start on number 14!!” – it’s an atmosphere of contagious creativity and I love it.
But this year? I wanted to see what it was like to actually PACE myself. There’s a whole month to finish these prompts and the minimum wordcount of 300 words per article is really manageable.
So I chilled.
The first article I produced was the best one of this challenge because I was in a good creative mindset. I answered the prompts in an order that made sense for my worldbuilding (this is allowed in the rules) and I made sure that each following prompt would tie in with my previous article.
I still had to balance my worldbuilding in this challenge with my design work, and it quickly became a very busy work month which left me creatively tired and in danger of burnout. With this in mind, I switched up my workflow and started to create WIP articles that met the minimum wordcount, but weren’t finished, polished pieces of work.
Heeere’s where the problems kicked in.
- my motivation and creative flow slowed down to a trickle
- I did that thing again of not setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals and it made my workload overwhelming
- I wasn’t achieveing my goals or feeling productive or getting that creative satisfaction which was no bueno
I’m the type of creative who loves to tick things off of his to do list and move tasks into the “DONE” column. Not being able to see these worldbuilding articles be finished really got me down because all 30 of them ended up being “In Progress” all at once, rather than working on one and finishing one before moving on to the next.
Furthermore, I put too much extra work on myself. I really wanted to show off the extra features I have as a guild member on World Anvil and created an interactive puffin hunt in my articles. Find the puffin, hover your mouse over it and it will squawk a passphrase, click on it and it will lead you to a mysterious locked article. If you put in the passphrase you will unlock a bonus article full of development sketches and ideas generation.
Sounds cool, right?
It was until I realised I would have ended up creating 60 articles instead of 30, and no baseline to judge what counts as “finished”.
This lead to big bad burnout, demotivation and me finishing the Summer Camp challenge with a lower standard of work than I’m used to.
Predictions for next year
So how am I going to avoid all this for the next creative challenge I take on?
- Set some damn S.M.A.R.T. goals and stick to them
- Embrace the race
- Finish, then polish
Unfamiliar with what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is? Quick recap.
Specific – what do I want to achieve, why do I want to do this, how shall I do it, where etc
Measurable – how can I break it down so that I know when I’ve achieved the goal
Attainable – can I really achieve this? is it going to be too much work for me or will I burn out?
Relevant – is this necessary? will it benefit my project, my creativity, lifestyle etc?
Timely – how much time will I have to achieve this goal
Here’s an example of what my SMART goal could be for next year’s World Anvil Summer Camp challenge:
Starting on the 1st July 2020, I will complete all prompts within the World Anvil Summer Camp worldbuilding challenge so that I can enter the main prize draw whilst having fun expanding my world.
I will make sure that each entry will be a minimum of 300 words long and include 1 header image, 1 extra image and at least 1 linked related article.
I aim to complete the prompts in a logical order, and completely finish one prompt before starting on the next article. I will finish the articles with at least 10 days remaining of the challenge, and I’ll spend those last days checking my work for typos and linking in the other articles.
By achieving this goal I will have added over 9,000 words of lore and 60 images to the world of Melior.
That feels like an achievable goal for me! But I will come back and re-asses this closer to the time to make sure that it still holds true. My schedule might be too busy to make all of those images!
Which tip did you find most helpful and do you have any other bits of advice that you would like to add?
Let me know in the comments, or hop on Discord to join the discussion!