Finish It

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It’s a new year, in case you didn’t know. I’m sure you didn’t. It’s this new thing they’re trying out, where, after a collection of about twelve months they decide to reset the months back to one and start over again.

Anyways, during this time of year people have decided to set their minds to accomplishing a specific set of tasks they want to do to improve their lives; eat better, work out more, etc. For years I did the same thing; ‘It’s 2011, I’m going to accomplish this, create that, workout and look like this…’ etc etc.

Eventually I realized that making a resolution at the beginning of the year, no matter how well intentioned, wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish out of life (and statistically most resolutions fail anyway).

So I gave them up entirely. What’s the point?

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THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!

The last three years, I didn’t have any resolutions at all. Instead I focused on spending each month on a single project that would allow me to close the book on that project after that month and start the next month with a new project. I’ve had varying levels of success on these different projects, but overall I’ve been very happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish over the last several years. (IE: A LOT more than before… Which was nothing.)

I’m not stopping that by any means. It’s given me great momentum and this upcoming year is going to allow me to release some projects that have been in ‘development hell’ for almost a decade.

BUT I’m constantly seeking self improvement and there are several things I’ve been wanting to make a habit in my life. I have a clear picture of who I want to be and what I want to do with my life, so I’m constantly striving towards that image.

One of the major things I’ve wanted to  be able to do is to read more… But I just didn’t seem to have time. AN ENTIRE BOOK?! THAT’S TOO MUCH!

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To give you an example of how my last eight or so years of reading has been, I’ve read a LOT of comics (though last year even my comic reading dropped significantly) and I usually manage to read about two to four books a year (usually business and finance books, I rarely make time for fiction anymore).

Which is odd, considering I’m a fiction writer. Huh.

WOW! You might say, that’s a LOT more than what I read in a year!

Well, considering that I used to read a full novel every day and still had time to accomplish everything I needed to… I’m going to say that my reading has someone diminished since college. Ha.

Well, I took December off in order to kind of reassess my life and my goals. Make sure I was still headed in the direction I wanted to head and to plan to set myself (and my family) up for success in the upcoming years. I’ve been so frustrated over the last several years because I can’t find the sort of inspiration I’m looking for; I watch movies, television shows, SORT OF play video games… Yet I have this sort of empty feeling that doesn’t tickle my mind and I’d often just kind of feel like I could be working on a project instead of consuming the media I am consuming.

I’ve constantly been looking for that feeling that I’d felt when I was younger, when I was more creative and expressive, when I had a seemingly endless supply of stories and ideas… But for some reason, over the years, I’d begun to lose it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was…

Well, about a year and a half ago my phone stopped working and I lost my constant access to social media (and generally the internet). I realized very quickly that I was incredibly addicted and was, of course, spending a tremendous amount of time on these sites. (Hereby attributing to the ‘I don’t have enough time to do ‘x’ excuse.)

In December, aside from taking it off from projects, I also took it off from Facebook entirely and managed to discover that I actually have a TREMENDOUS amount of free time. That is when I picked up some of Kevin Strange’s bizarro stories. It’s not secret that I’m drawn to weird stories, filled with unique characters and just a bizarre, out of the ordinary premise; some of my own stories or pitches reflect that, I’m sure. If it is a fantastically told story on top of that; all the better. I’d been wanting to pick up some of Kevin’s stories for awhile, but after I had actually read some of Strange’s stories (in particular Texas Chainsaw Mantis) I began to realize something; that feeling of inspiration and imagination that I had felt before college?

I got that feeling from reading.

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Obviously! Duh! Over the years, as I’d begun to read less and less (as I got ‘busier’). I became less creative and became less inspired.

RIGHT after that I began to read quite a bit every day and ended the year by reading (and finishing) about four different books and a small set of short stories. So, I immediately I realized that reading was more than just a hobby or a goal for me; it was a NEED. Reading is a source of creativity, inspiration, and stimulation.

I was happier, I had an influx of creative ideas, I enjoyed the media that I was consuming more, and my mind was more focused on the other things I was trying to accomplish. I knew in that moment that I needed to get off my ass and start reading more.

HEY! It’s a new year! Let’s make a resolution! 

Well, for the most part what I’ve realized that most people don’t go into this sort of momentous task without having a specific set of tasks in mind that will help this accomplish their overall goal. That’s why only 8% of people succeed in their resolutions. They’re too broad with what they want to accomplish.

So how am I going to make reading a habit? Well, I’m taking a very similar approach to the whole #FinishIt method that I’ve been successfully using over the last several years to accomplish various projects that I’ve been wanting to do for over ten years. This version, however, will take the form of a 100 day goal.

Every day for one-hundred days, my goal is to read as many books as possible.

Yikes. That’s a big goal. Well, after I broke it down, it seemed more reasonable; thirty days to establish a new habit, the bite-sized goal from now until then is to read at least two chapters a day in a book. This gives me a very straight forward, broken down goal that I can accomplish every single day for the amount of time I need to (the 100 days). A bunch of smaller tasks accomplished each day takes me a step closer to getting to where I wanted to be overall.

Instead of waking up in the morning and browsing Facebook, I wake up in the morning and read a chapter in a book. Instead of browsing Facebook when I’m bored, or before I got to bed, I read a chapter. Now I ONLY get onto any social media when I have a reason to and (big surprise) I’m accomplishing a lot more.

Well, I’m almost two weeks into the new year and guess what? I’ve almost read two books. With this method, I’m on track for reading a book a week. How awesome is that? I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing on fifty days and on one-hundred days… But so far I’m going strong!

So, in summation; I realized that, despite already cutting down my social media time SIGNIFICANTLY, I still waste a massive amount of time on it. I’m using my time to accomplish things that don’t matter and just eat up my time instead of accomplishing my goals. So, instead of using social media as a method of entertainment, I’m doing something else more productive and beneficial to my life. Reading.

What are some of your goals for this upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish?

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

This year was awful.

Hello Nathanreaders! I’ve decided that every year I’m going to post one of these year in review things in order to reflect back on my previous year as well as have this record for the years to come as I look at how my life has changed over the years.

Alright, so back to this year: It started out horrible, when I full intended on filming several short films and a feature horror this year, I ended up not having any money to devote to them and not being able to even work on the Star Wars short I’d filmed last year due to my laptop acting up and crashing every half an hour or so. So no editing, special effects, or sound effects. Limited Photoshop at best. All of that jazz. Because I didn’t have any extra money, of course, I got a ticket for a seat belt violation on the day I had to go and fill out the paperwork for a new job and ended up having to pay a significant amount for another situation that I’m not going to get into. Also my phone battery completely died.

Just. The worst. This was all starting in January. So that basically set the tone for the rest of my year.

I decided to focus quite a bit of time on an experiment, to see how successful a gaming channel could be in the current landscape of YouTube, as opposed to a vlogging channel. Initially the gaming channel was more successful and ended up having the potential to be a big deal. I really want to do more with it, expand it into something more of an internet channel than a single show.

Watch one of those here:

So, of course, I stopped working on it when another project idea crawled into my path; creating
a pitch for a cartoon series. What seemed to be a simple project ended up taking me months to work on and I inevitably gave up and started working on something else, much to my own frustration.

In March I finally found my drawing tablet pen that I had been missing for over a year and a half. With that new revelation I set upon doing… Not much. Just some doodles here and there. I continued to mess around and wonder where all of my time went when it came to the projects I was working on. But it still meant that things could only get better from there.

So the good things of this year; I was able to meet all kinds of awesome people at my new job and work with some awesome artists on some comic book projects that I’ll hopefully be able to release this next year or the year after that. A few other things was that I was able to finish up the Drunk Knight series with that crew, bunch of awesome guys. I got a 3DS finally; I’ve wanted one for YEARS. I also was able to go to Comic Con Chicago with my little brother and talked with some writers about publishing and writing in the modern age. Great people. Awesome times.

I finally finished NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve wanted to do it for almost five years and I just got overwhelmed and stopped. I followed the similar outline, wrote about 3,000 words per day and by the end I had a first draft of a cyberpunk novel that I want to release late spring or early summer of 2016! (YES!)

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The best thing is that I ended up getting engaged to my beautiful girlfriend, Kandi. There we (though mostly she) began planning wedding things for the big day on May 28th, 2016. (Woooo!) She’s been incredibly supportive and wonderful throughout this entire year (the second year of our relationship) and I could not have gotten to where I am without her. Seriously.

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Either way, I spent the summer struggling to find out why I wasn’t accomplishing the projects I was working on and getting frustrated that I wasn’t yet at a point to where I could film any sort of short film like I wanted to.

So, I went on a soul searching journey.

I realized that I did not want to be the kind of husband and father that was known to have a dream of accomplishing something and never doing it. I did not want to be the example of a man who started projects but never finished them. I want to be the best possible person I can be for my new family, not something or someone that simply let life slip him by. I reflected back on who I was and who I wanted to be, I tried to find what it was that was keeping me from working towards the things I wanted to do and what happened NEXT started the ball rolling on something that I hope I can continue into the new year.

#FinishIt2015

Earlier in the year I realized that I was entirely too addicted to social media and hopping onto facebook, twitter or youtube every few minutes to see what was new. After my phone died I realized that nothing really changed while I was gone. Nothing was affected. I had more free time. I could manage my time better and accomplish more.

I made a video about that here:


It was September before I made the revelation that I was working on far too many projects at once. I was overwhelmed and tended to drop a project as soon as it became more work than creative inspiration. Well, 90% of success in anything is hard work and perseverance, so I decided that I was simply going to wipe my project slate clean and start over. I would have no projects that I wanted to get done this year and start back at square one.

I had to rewire my entire brain to make sure that I could start on this new path to success in my life. I needed to think differently and learn from the masters who have succeeded in the past.

Now, thanks to that mentality, I started working on a few of the projects that I had started years prior and had not finished and began to work towards finishing a single project or goal every month. This was related to a project like a book, art, or movie stuff… Plus I wanted to read books that I wanted to read and games I intended on beating or television shows I’ve wanted to finish.

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I started with Skyrim, a massive game with a lot of time I need to invest to finish it and a short book; Lord of the Flies. It started slow, I had to fight it all the way, but I finally finished the book and played through a large portion of Skyrim. I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’ve gotten very far and I fully intend on finishing it.

I’m not going to talk too much about FinishIt2015… I’ll save that for another day… But I will say that it’s a rallying cry that’s helped me to accomplish so much at the end of the year. I decided that all I needed to do was set a project goal for the month, and then set smaller daily goals in order to accomplish the entire thing. This rendered me a ton of success! Alright, finally, I’m just going to give a list of things that I’ve accomplished and a few things that I did NOT manage to finish before the year became new! Check it out!

My victories for #FinishIt2015: (from September 2015 to December 2015)

  • Wrote a Post-Apocalyptic Western Comic Issue
  • Wrote a Horror Teen Comic Issue
  • Wrote a Horror Short Story
  • Wrote a superhero short film
  • Wrote a revenge short film
  • Wrote a horror short film
  • Wrote a short film script with a friend
  • Read Four Books
    • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
    • Creativity Inc.
    • Lord of the Flies
    • True Cases of Pure Evil: Serial Killers
  • The Pitch for a Cartoon Show
  • 30 Horror Themed Paintings for Drawlloween
  • Wrote the First Draft of a Cyberpunk Novel
  • Wrote two-thirds of a second Draft of my Superhero Novel

The remaining things on my plate for this year that I did NOT accomplish were:

  • The final third of the second draft of the superhero novel.
  • Skyrim. It’s such a long game. So so long.
  • Three remaining books that I’m currently reading. These aren’t remaining things, considering I started them the week of Christmas, soooo…
    • Books of Blood
    • Scarlet Gospels
    • Cold Hard Truth

I can say that in only four months I’ve managed to accomplish more than in the last three years combined. Simply because I made sure that my slate was entirely clean and each month I was going to focus on a major project as well as several smaller ones.

“Pick a project to do per month, set small goals to accomplish your bigger one. Win at life. #FinishItRevolution”

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Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

Update

Hey Nathanreaders!

I’ve officially won NaNoWriMo! I’ve written every day and in 25 days I’ve managed to write 50,000 words! Granted, I still have about 30,000 more words to go before the books first draft is completely finished, but still, 50k in less than a month is a major accomplishment.

For this post I want to say a bit about my process. I usually wake up at about 7:00am every day and start writing about 7:30am until between 10:00am and noon on that day with a few breaks in between. I like waking up early because I can work alone as soon as I wake up, so I’m fresh and ready to start working.

Anyways, I’ve learned through some trial and error  that I work best this way and can accomplish a whole lot more per day if I just set aside at least two hours in the morning to work. This is something that I plan on just doing indefinitely with my various projects because it’s been incredibly effective and I’m excited to keep going.

Also the current working title for the novel is //.Machina, however I think that I’m going to rename it. Dot Machina is the title that I originally used about eight years ago when the idea was conceived, but I think with several other movies having a similar title, I might have to go with something else. 😛 I’m not entirely sure what the title will end up being, it might be the same, but I’m considering a few different options.

Next time, at the end of the month, I’m going to be giving a breakdown of my writing process, from conception of the idea, to the writing and so on.

Live long and prosper, suckers!

~Nathan

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

So here is what happens when I try to write at night;

This is what happens when I write when I'm tired

 

Day 21

Heeyyyyy Nathanviewers. Wait, if you’re reading this does that make you Nathanreaders? Hmmm…

Heeyyyyy Nathanreaders! Guess what? I’ve passed 40,000 words in my novel and I’m only 10,000 from completing my 30 day daily writing stint in order to get my entire novel written in one month! Wooohoo!

Either way, I’m positive that I’m going to finish and even surpass the words I’m writing and get a good chunk of the novel finished. I was really hoping to get up to 70,000 words of an 80,000 word novel by the end of the month, but I’m not really sure how feasible that is actually going to end up. I have ten days left and it took my almost nineteen to get up to 40,ooo, hahaha.

This has mostly been chalked up to how difficult is has been this week for me to actually get started and write. I’m not really sure what it is, but it’s been literally a war to sit my butt down and start writing. Obviously once I start it becomes a bit easier and I can do it, but it’s not quite flowing out onto the page as easily as it was when I started.

I wanted to start writing about 3,000 words a day, roughly two and a half to three hours of writing a day, however I’ll sit there for three or four (sometimes more) trying to put out two thousand. I still want to work towards that goal of just being able to put down 3,000 words and keep pushing the story forward.

I really need a break, I think. But I’m not going to stop until this book is done!!! *fist shaking* >:( This is #FinishIt2015 and NOT #FinishItwheneverifeellikeishouldbecauseimfeelinglazy2045.

Basically I’ve learned from this month is that anything you want to do that is worthwhile is not always going to be fun and easy to do. You have to work every day to make it happen. You have to push forward and make sure that you write, draw, read, anything you’re passionate about every day because that is what ultimately what makes you that thing. It’s either that or you never accomplish anything and just look back on your life wondering what you  could have done.

Check out this video from Alan Moore (one of my favorite writers) and what he thinks a writer is:

This video really put some wind in my sails and I’m really happy to have that feeling of accomplishment whenever I put in my words for the day and watch my overall progress. (See the chart above.)

I plan on posting two more blog posts about NaNoWriMo, one for when I reach 50k and one when the month ends. For each of these I’m wanting to talk about my process, and the other some of the music that I’ve been listening to while writing my current novel to keep my in the world I’m working in.

My plan is to still have the first draft of //.Machina wrapped up by the end of the year, as well as a second novel that I will be working on in December. Basically I’ve decided to rewrite a novel I’ve been writing off and on for about ten years in one month. (I’m really REALLY excited to finally finish that story.)

That being said, I have more ideas for 2016, including editing a Star Wars trailer I shot last year, but nothing will be set in stone just yet. I will be working month to month with a general idea of what I want to do the next, then solidfy it per month to see how many projects I can actually finish in a year, be it writing, short film, feature film, comics, whatever. I’m really excited to see what this year has in store for me! ^_^

I just gotta keep swimming…

Wish me luck, guys!

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

Machina Update

I’ve officially made it to the halfway point! *throws confetti* I made great headway starting the month out, so I’ve been a few days ahead for most of the week and a half that I’ve been working on my novel for NaNoWriMo. My average is a little over 2,000 words a day, but I’m aiming to start writing 3,000 per day once the month has ended.

I’ve been waking up early and writing for two or three hours a day. I feel like I’m only inching along, but I appear to be going very quickly from what this timeline suggests. It’ll be great to have this first draft finished so that I can go through and edit it and polish it further. I’m already jotting down notes on changes that I want to make in it.

That all being said, I’ve hit a point where I’m struggling to focus on writing the story and not be internally reflective about the subject matter that I’m tackling. It’s very difficult for me to start writing each day because of this. This whole month has been frustrating for me so far as well, the story is complex and it’s tackling the difficult question… ‘What does it mean to be human?’ Meanwhile, getting in gear and FORCING myself to write every day is also very tough. All of this frustration is reflecting in my interactions, but I’m pushing through it and hopefully will soon overcome and be able to finish strong with the 72,000 words (12 chapters) that I want this novel to be at its end.

I’m feeling confident that I’m going to add this to my #FinishIt2015 list and hopefully finish the year strong with my second superhero novel as well.

Also, my 40,000 word update will have a playlist of songs that I’m using to write this book with! So look forward to that and live long and prosper, suckers!

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

update

So today we hit day number four of NaNoWriMo.

I’m waking up extra early each day and working for three or four hours. I’m writing fast towards my 10,000 word badge and I’m very pleased with how this novel is evolving. I have an outline of the major plot points I want to hit, but like any of the other stuff I write, it shapes and evolves as I learn and grow with the characters.

I’m also working on trying to write more words per hour so that I can produce more content (beyond just this book) faster. One of the things I intend on doing with my life is writing  for a living. So if I can put together and write more effectively, that will help me in the long run. So far I’ve noticed with most things on my #FinishIt2015 campaign is that anything that I want to do, I have to wake up early and start working on it.

It’s crazy how much time I wasted most days through social media, YouTube, etc etc and not actually finishing the projects I’ve been wanting to do. What a waste! I’m so glad I’ve finally figured out how to buckle down and start… As well as finish… Projects that have been burning on the back of my mind for years!

This story (//.Machina) is one that I started writing when I was in highschool (almost ten years ago) and subsequently lost the first five chapters I had written. So I put the story on the backburner until I really wanted to write it again while I focused on my superhero novel and Virapets. It’s been almost a decade and I’m such a different person now, the story is still what the original idea was, but with a more evolved feel to it. I completely adore how it’s turning out and I’m excited to get it finished.

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

Bonus: Anyways, here’s an unedited bit from the book if you’re interested in reading.

   “Okay.” Daku started, staring at the bottom of his wrist and swiping his finger several times over the small holo-display that was positioned there. A timer was counting down rapidly, causing Daku to show his sister the display and tap it, “We’ve got seventeen minutes before the security system goes back up and STAI starts raiding the building. That whole vent thing cost us fifteen minutes.”

“Fantastic.” Kaeba said as she crossed her arms. She often did this when she was uncomfortable in a situation and usually ended up bailing on it whenever she was. No matter how much she tried, she could never get over the sensation that her life would soon be over and that did not sit well with her. They just needed to download the money to the accounts and get out; out of this city, out of this server. Just out.

The bell chimed and the doors opened, Kaeba’s blades shot out from her forearms like wings and she burst down the halls once again, following the neon blue line down the hall and towards the security panel that would override the inner security to the safe that was their target. In their way was the same Herupa who had been the victim of their attack several floors above and had made its way down to meet the two as they emerged from the elevator, chattering cheerful warnings that the intruders had to leave the premises because it was private property and forming a large bladed weapon from its back and attaching it to its forearm, swinging down and slicing into the ground.

Kaeba did not stop her run, instead opting to rush to the side of the hall and jump up onto the wall, hitting it and flipping over the Herupa, slicing down as she did so. However this time was different because the AI had grown its usually soft body into a more solid plastic covering that allowed them to take less damage with the blades.

    This was a defense mechanism that Kaeba had never actually seen before.

    From Daku’s forearm flipped handles that hissed and buzzed as it formed into a set of glowing orange axes that could be used effectively in these sort of combat situations. He rushed towards the AI and began attacking it, ducking and dodging the large sweeping attacks of the much larger Herupa.

Drawlloween Calendar

Obviously I participated in Drawlloween this year, where you do one spooky drawing a day for the entire month of Halloween. I don’t normally just do drawings without purpose, usually there is some sort of end game, like concept art, comic art, etc. This time I wanted to draw for the sake of drawing; so I took it upon myself to just take the time I was going to spend on all of this art this month and try to improve my art. I decidedly poked around with ideas and styles, trying new things as I went.

Overall, I’ve seen a massive improvement in my art, plus I was able to play around with different techniques with Photoshop to help make my art look about ten times better. This month was most assuredly well spent and I would recommend it to any budding artist.

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

Hey all! Fresh off of Drawlloween, today I started NaNoWriMo, where I’m supposed to be writing 50,000 words in one month. Today I woke up bright and early and wrote for about two hours, ended up with around 1,700 words for day one.

I’m not going to lie, I thought I was going to be able to write a lot more today, but with my day job and me being tired from my weird sleeping schedule, I wasn’t able to write a second time. Definitely a lesson in  making sure that I wake up early and actually work then and not procrastinate to the end of the day.

#FinishIt2015

Nanowrimo Update 1

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.