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The Create Your Own Adventure Challenge has officially begun! Que fanfair. My co-host Nyatara (Maya from the Silicon Valley Sci-Fi Fantasy Writers Meetup) and I are super excited to have all of you here and to help you along on your adventure.

Many folks are confused about the challenge. So if you're feeling confused, you're not alone. Before I get into clarifying a few things, I just want to thank you all for your patience and understanding. This is the first time were running a challenge like this and we're still figuring things out. So, thank you!

The mission

Our main objective is to help you achieve the creative goals that YOU want to achieve and give you support along the way to help make it happen. This is a very open ended challenge putting you in control of your creative goals. There are no prompts. You get to decide what to create, how much of it, and how to go about doing it. All that matters is that you walk away from this challenge having made progress.

This challenge was designed to provide you with motivation, support, and accountability. It's ok to be a little scared. Don't forget your buddy is there to help!

Get in touch with your accounta-billa-buddy

If you registered

Your designated buddy has already been emailed to you. Check your inbox and be sure to get in touch with your buddy as soon as possible to arrange for your first meeting. More details are available in the buddy guide.

Keep in mind your buddy may not be the same type of creator for as you. For example, if you're a writer, your buddy may be an artist.

If you're not registered

You can still participate and join the challenge at any time.

Your first step is to try and find a buddy. Either find a friend to do the challenge with you or join the discord server and ask in the #cyoa-challenge channel if anyone else is looking for a buddy. Then get together with your buddy. More details are available in the buddy guide.

Choose your Goal

For many, the most difficult and/or most confusing part of this challenge can be deciding what to work on at all.

Here are some questions that can help you zero in on a goal. If what you're after is growth...

  • “Where would I benefit from improving the most? Do I want to get better at drawing? Do I want to get better at world building? At writing dialog?”

    • If you're unsure in what area you could use more attention, ask someone who is ahead of you in ability for advice or critique.

  • “Where do I see myself in 2 to 3 years with my art or writing? What is the ONE thing I can do in the next 8 weeks that would help me move toward that vision?”

  • “What's the most impactful way I can spend the next eight weeks to help me hone my craft?”

Sometimes looking to your past can help you find your future. This might also be a good approach if you're feeling burnt out and need a little fun...

  • “Of all the projects I've ever done, which one did I enjoy doing the most?”

  • “Of all the projects of ever done, which one am I most proud of?”

  • “What's the one thing I want to create before I die?”

This challenge lasts two months but the project you choose doesn't have to necessarily fill that time. If you're anything like me and tend to severely underestimate how long things take, it might be good to use a little self deception and choose a project or task that you think would take no more than a month.

It's ok if you don't have it figured out yet. Ask your buddy for help!

Break down your goal

It's easy for your project to feel daunting which can inhibit progress. Try breaking it down into steps to be completed each week. If that's overwhelming, just start with deciding the chunks for the first week. Your buddy can help you do this.

If you're still having trouble starting on your project, try breaking things down smaller into chunks that would take only 20 minutes to complete.

You can also try the OKR method.

Meetup schedule

To provide an additional layer of support to the community as we go through this challenge, we are hosting a couple of extra discord meetups (twice a month rather than the standard once a month).

Here's the full list so mark your calendars:

FAQ

As questions come up, we'll add answers here for your future reference.

Are my buddy and I working on the same project?

No. The intent is for each person to have their own personal creative project to work on. However, if the two of you want to collaborate on a project you are more than welcome to do so.

How do buddies work if my buddy isn't an artist/writer like me?

Even though they may not be creating in the same way you are, they can still help you achieve your creative goals. Your buddy is there to help you break down your goals, provide encouragement, and provide accountability. If you wanted your buddy to help you with critique, they may still be able to critique your work by offering a more diverse perspective. You can also share your work in the discord server in the #critique channel and on PaperDemon.

Are there any writing or drawing prompts? What exactly am I supposed to create during the challenge?

This challenge is very open-ended and customized for you. And as such, there are no prompts, requirements, or guidelines provided for what you create. This challenge is meant to be an opportunity for you to work on ANY creative project that you may have lying around unfinished or project ideas you've thought of but haven't quite started. It can even be something like investing in new skills like taking a class on creative writing, watercolor, or figure drawing.

A few folks have been interested in us providing prompts so will definitely consider this as an option for next time we run the challenge.

Can I use an existing project? Or does it have to be a new project?

You can absolutely use an existing project. Perhaps you have a comic you had started drawing or writing a while back but never finished, or a draft for a novel that's been collecting dust. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with that project and make progress again.

Do I have to finish the project by the end of the challenge?

You can set a goal to just complete a portion of your project within the two month period. It does not have to be completed by the end. An ideal scenario would be to achieve the goal that you set for yourself by the end of the challenge.

Does my project have to be art or writing?

Nope. It can be anything creative or related to your creative endeavers, such as cosplay, coding, drawing, painting, papier-mâché, animation, poetry, fanfiction, youtube videos, photography, etc. It can even be something indirectly related, such as growing your audience (e.g. twitter followers) or taking classes. If it helps you bring you closer to your creative goals, then it counts!

Do I have to share what I create on PaperDemon?

Nope! This challenge is all about helping you achieve what you want. Of course we would all love to see what you create so we can help cheer you on. But it is not required at all to post your work on the PaperDemon website.

Will you host this challenge again? If so, when?

Given the interest we've seen so far, I'm pretty sure we'll run it again on PaperDemon.com but I'm not sure when yet. Join the mailing list to be notified of future challenge dates.

I have another question not answered here!

O RLY? Send your questions to bogusred@paperdemon.com

Posted on

Welcome to the Create Your Own Adventure Challenge!

Here's a handy-dandy guide to help you make the most of the peer support system. By checking in with your buddy regularly, you can help motivate one another to keep your momentum going and coach each other through difficulties you encounter along your adventure.

First step

With having been paired with your adventure buddy, now it's time to get to know each other and to make your plan for moving forward.

Contact your buddy and set up a day and time for your first meeting. This is just a meeting between the two of you and can be over text chat, video, phone, or by whatever means you two are comfortable with, but this first meeting needs to be real-time since you'll have a lot to discuss in order to help each other through this challenge and in reaching one another’s goals.

Please keep in mind when scheduling that this is a global community and folks are spread across different countries and time zones. 

Your first meeting

This meeting is all about helping you set up your account-a-bili-buddy for success and them doing the same for you! Here are some things to get you started:

  1. You'll be checking in with your buddy twice a week (or more often as needed). Come to an agreement on how best to communicate for your check-ins. For example; phone, text, email, Discord, etc.
  2. Discuss what the best type of check-in is for both of you; do you just want someone ask “Hey, what have you accomplished so far?” Or do you want some greater level of accountability such as “Did you stick to the first step/portion of your goal?”
  3. Share your goals with one another. Help each other to break down your goals across the 2 month challenge period.
  4. Anything else you might need help with?

Regular check-ins

Your regular, twice-a-week, check-ins don't have to be scheduled, real-time meetings. They can simply be texts/emails back and forth.

Be sure to reach out regularly with your buddy and ask them how they're doing. Don't wait until your buddy asks for help - because people often have trouble asking for help. Instead, offer help. It's super effective.

Is your buddy getting stuck? Just listening goes a long way. And cat photos, inspirational quotes, or GIFs couldn't hurt either.

You may also want to set a reminder on your phone/calendar to help you remember to check in.

Need more support?

Join the PaperDemon discord. We'll have a #cyoa-challenge channel where you can ask questions, share your progress, etc. We'll also be hosting a chat meetup on PaperDemon's discord every two weeks. We'll be emailing you the meetup schedule soon.

That's it! Easy-peasy. Happy adventuring!

Posted on

A few days ago, I shared my frustrations with Inktober and why I think artists and writers deserve a more flexible creative challenge.

Today, I'm super excited to tell you more about our Create Your Own Adventure Challenge and how you can get started.

As previously mentioned, other challenges like Inktober and NaNoWriMo have characteristics that make them hard for people with lives, jobs, classwork, health issues, family obligations, mental health challenges, etc. With that in mind, the Create Your Own Adventure Challenge will address all of that!

  • Time frame: Two whole months.

  • Output: Watercolor paintings? Sure! Poetry? Damn skippy. Animation? Rock on! Python code? def yes(); It's whatever you want it to be.

  • Quantity: YOU get to decide how much you want to create. You set your own goals based on your own circumstances and what feels realistic to you.

  • Time of Year: The challenge starts in April and goes through the end of May. There's still tax season and Easter in there, but hopefully this isn't as chaotic or stressful as the end of the year holiday season.

  • Support: instead of going it completely alone like you would with any other challenge, we're going to be using

    • a buddy system to help with accountability (an accounta-bila-buddy, hehehe) AND

    • online meet ups where you can share your progress, get encouragement, and ask for help in real time AND

    • a dedicated chat channel for the challenge where you can get additional support inbetween meetups (#cyoa-challenge💎 on our Discord server).

How to participate

Because an essential feature of this challenge is the buddy system, we're asking people to sign up ahead of time. Registration is free and helps us pair you up with a buddy and send you information throughout the challenge.

Register for the challenge by end of day Sunday March 24, 2019. Keep an eye on your email inbox for your buddy assignment and additional instructions which should arrive by April 1st.

Register now

Sharing

If you share any of your work on PaperDemon or elsewhere for the challenge, use the hashtag #createyourownadventure so we can track on social media.

What if I join late or miss the registration deadline?

You're still welcome to participate in the challenge. But you'll be on your own to find a buddy. Try asking in the #cyoa-challenge💎 channel on our Discord server and join the mailing list so you get notified about important updates and meetups.

I have questions, ideas, or feedback!

Just contact me at bogusred@paperdemon.com or post in the Discord server.

Happy Adventuring!

Posted on

Every year #Inktober happens I watch as my fellow artists take on the difficult task of attempting a new ink drawing every day for the month of October. For many years I just stood in the sidelines watching everyone else and telling myself “I could never do that. I could never stick to a new drawing every day for 31 days. That's beyond my abilities.”

I was pretty surprised to learn from one of our community members that many people actually prepare ahead of time for Inktober. Months in advance they prepare sketches or completed ink drawings so they can stick to the rigorous daily posting schedule.

Is it us? or is it the challenge?

While some would consider this act cheating, perhaps this demonstrates a problem with the challenge itself. People have shit to do. They have day jobs, family to care for, attention issues, time management issues, or whatever things that might keep them from sticking to the requirements of the challenge.

Inktober lacks the sort of flexibility that artists need in order to complete the challenge in a way that feels successful to them. And the realists or pessimists among us won’t even bother to attempt it if we know we can't finish it.

50,000 words

Nyatara, a friend of mine who's also a novel writer and runs the Silicon Valley Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers meetup, was telling me that similar problems exist with NaNoWriMo.NaNoWriMo, challenges authors to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It's at a time of year when the holidays are gearing up, people are starting to get busy with family obligations, and general holiday chaos. It's no wonder most people don't complete the challenge and end with feelings of failure.

A more realistic challenge for the rest of us

Both of these challenges suffer from the same problems.

  • happen at a busy time of the year
  • have a fixed goal that doesn't take into consideration the needs of the creative people who participate
  • lacks peer support to help cheer you on and keep you motivated from start to finish

So Nyatara and I started asking ourselves “What if...”

  • What if we were to create a challenge where artists and authors can both participate?
  • and could choose a goal that is realistic for them?
  • and not have it happen at the time of year when things are most busy?
  • and have regular check-ins with peer support to help cheer you on and help you through the hard parts and distractions?

We've dubbed this challenge Create your Own Adventure and it will span two months, from April to May. It will be a joint challenge for both the Silicon Valley Sci Fi Fantasy meetup and PaperDemon.

Stay tuned for more details. Registration for Create your Own Adventure opens later this week!

Posted on

A new Challenges feature was launched on PaperDemon bringing it closer to my vision of helping creatives become more awesome by gamifying creative growth.

Over the past year we've hosted various challenges such as Sketch Dailies, Inktober, and most recently Doing it in the Bushes to help artists and writers build motivation, confidence, and have fun.

Since our community is growing, I wanted to have a way to automatically grant experience points to users who participate (rather than me doing it manually). So I added a new feature that rewards you with experience points.

How it works

When we host a challenge, just submit an artwork entry between the start and end dates of the challenge adding the tag mentioned in the announcement post. For example, for Inktober, you submit art during the month of October with the tag “inktober”. You'll then see entries available to collect experience in the challenge dashboard. At the end of the challenge, just click the Collect XP button and...

BOOM you got XP! w00t w00t!

If you participated in any of the previously mentioned challenges, you should now see experience points ready for you to collect in the new challenge dashboard. Don't forget to clicky clicky the collect buttons to get your XP!

At this time, only artwork can gain experience points for challenges. But I'm working on ways to extend this to writing and comics, too.

What challenges are available?

Join the mailing list or check back on our news page to see what challenges are coming up. We have one planned for April to May 2019. Stay tuned for details.

Let me know what you think

This is still a new feature and it is likely to have a few usability issues. So let me know if you have any trouble with it or have suggestions for improving it.

Posted on

This post is for adults only.

For the month of February we hosted our first erotic and adult themed creative challenge in several years called Doing It in the Bushes where artists depicted two or more characters involved in an illicit act in an unusual hidden place.

We had five members participate and I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the submissions. People clearly got really into this and it just goes to show just how important freedom of expression, including the freedom to depict explicit creative works, is to our community.

I was really hoping to participate myself with a Vegeta and Bulma artwork. But unfortunately I was little overextended so I'll have to save it for next time. 😉

Here's a roundup of all the lovely entries...

Artwork

Warning: these links contain sexually explicit imagery

You can also view the full Doing it in the Bushes collection with your filter settings applied.

Writing

  • Number Three Combo by WANeal - There are couples who make love in the privacy of their homes, indulging their desires in the dark with the shades drawn. This story is NOT about one of those couples.

For those that participated with artwork, you should be able to collect your experience points in the new challenge dashboard.

If you did participate and don't see your artwork above and/or don't see your XP, please contact me and I'll help you out.

Got feedback?

Please let me know if you have any feedback on how we can improve challenges like this in the future. Given the participation, we'll definitely do another adult themed creative challenge later in the year. I'm even tempted to repeat the same one because I think there's a lot of potential and I just really love the name.

Were you interested in participating but didn't? What could we have done differently to help you participate? Please post a comment and let us know

Thank you everyone for participating! Amazing job!

Posted on

you are very welcome dragon lady. If you come across any other tips to help with writer's block let me know. I'm sure our community would benefit from it
 
I'd love to do more on this topic too. I was thinking about interviewing various artists and writers to see how they get through it
 

Posted on

An entrepreneur's tale of getting herself out there despite her social anxiety.

One of my biggest fears has been that I'll end up spending all of my time building a great product and have no one to use it or willing to pay for it.

I've known for good while now that I can't simply invest the majority of my time in building the PaperDemon site/app and expect to be successful. My research into entrepreneurship and startups has uncovered that one of the main ways that businesses fail is not enough traction. Startups may have a great product idea but not enough customers. And that's why it's important that I invest the necessary time to grow our community and user base.

It's also why I've identified my introversion as probably the biggest risk of failure for my business.

The value of collaboration

I've been creating content somewhat regularly over the last several months through our blog and YouTube channel. But I could do more to reach new audiences.

One thing I've observed other content creators do is interviews. The person being interviewed benefits because they like sharing their insights and getting exposure/more followers. The interviewer's audience benefits from these insights and from the extra exposure from the interviewee's audience.

Another thing I've seen other creators do is cross interviews. A youtuber/podcaster may interview someone on their channel and vice versa, creating cross pollination of audiences.

So it seemed to make business sense to form these relationships and give interviews/collaborations a try.

Why I hadn't yet done it

Over the past couple years I've been wrestling with anxiety. More recently have come to learn that my most of my anxiety is the “social anxiety” variety; the fear of judgment from other people.

It's easy to see how a socially anxious person could get stuck here. I haven't been so sure about how to approach others about a collaboration or how to even get started interviewing others. I have a list of people I want to ask, but I haven't asked yet.

I had this limiting belief that in order to start, I had to be good at interviewing others and good at talking to strangers. That's not something that comes naturally to me. Adding ADHD into the mix means I'm not great at paying attention or listening to others. I'm often not sure how to keep the conversation flowing. Not to mention, I can be really awkward at times.

I also had a belief that an interview had to be this long complicated well thought out thing.

Getting over my limiting beliefs

My coach helped me see an opportunity that was right in front of me. I was planning to go to ShrunkenHeadMan Con at San Jose State anyway so why not turn that into an opportunity to film interviews with others. It seemed so much simpler than what I originally had in my mind. Just a bunch of little 5 minute interviews with people.

He suggested I come up with two or three topics to ask people. Then just listen. People will volunteer things to talk about. And go wherever it leads. This seemed way more managable to me than asking someone to do a longer form 30-60 minute interview.

I decided I was going to do it. Even if I do it badly. The practice alone will bring me closer to what I want to be and where I want to go. I had nothing to lose.

Doing my Social Anxiety Homework

I attend a weekly social anxiety support group and class and at the end of each session we're asked to commit to doing any one thing we want in the next week that's outside our comfort zone.

This week I said I was going to interview strangers. My peers were impressed.

I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable rejection. Some people that I asked to do an interview are going to say “no” and that's okay. Because eventually someone will say “yes”. And this helped. In the end, I wasn't hurt at all by anyone saying “no.”

While things didn't go quite as smoothly as I wanted them to, I still did better than expected. Yeah I was a little awkward at first, but every time I did an interview things seem to quickly smooth over. It was mostly about letting the other people talk and maybe asking a couple follow-up questions.

One thing that I was surprised by is how frequently people said “yes.” People who didn't know me at all were excited to be interviewed and share their insights.

The hardest part? Choosing someone to approach was harder than the actual approach itself. I did waste some time just wandering around deciding who to ask.

What I learned

The fast repetition allowed me to quickly learn. Rather than trying to do one long drawnout interview with one person, doing a bunch of little ones allowed me to practice my approach. Also since I had a script of things that I was asking over and over, it made it a little easier.

Sometimes being in the social context is not the part that causes my anxiety. Instead the anxiety comes after. When I start to ruminate about the awkward ways in which I may have started conversations or could've been smoother in my conversations or whatever. But I've learned recently that this rumination is common and is just a part of the social anxiety. Somehow knowing that that's what it was and labeling it when it happens made it have less power over me.

Overall I'm satisfied with the experience. I didn't push myself too hard like I used to. A few months ago if I had done this I would've tried to spend the whole day getting interviews and ended the day burnt out and exhausted. Instead, I paced myself and only did it for a couple hours.

I'm also proud of myself for asking for help. I was wise enough to recruit my husband to help be my camera person. Having someone familiar there helped ground me and keep me more relaxed and allowed me to focus on the social interaction. (Thank you Mike for helping!)

In terms of the benefits to my business, I made some great contacts which may lead to future collaborations. I also got some great footage for an upcoming YouTube video which I think will provide useful insights for our community. (I can't wait to share it. The video should be coming out in late March/early April.)

But most of all I learned that I can do this. I am capable of doing hard things. And that while I do have social anxiety, it doesn't mean it has to stop me from doing what's needed to help my business.

Posted on

This challenge is for adults only.

For the first time in a long while we're going to do an erotic themed art challenge for the month of February. February is the month of Valentine's Day so it kinda makes sense, #amirite?

With all the tumblr drama, it seems like now's a great time to proudly reaffirm the importance and our love for erotic art.

How to participate

  1. Create an erotic work of art or short story depicting two or more people sharing an intimate moment in a hidden place.
  2. Post your art/writing to PaperDemon Red Curtain with the tag doingitinthebushes before the end of February 2019. Feel free to share it across social media with this hashtag #DoingItInTheBushes
  3. Profit! Once we have our our challenge XP feature done you'll gain 75 experience points for participating.

Thought starters

  • In a department store dressing room
  • At work in the copy room after work hours
  • In a garden
  • A hidden room behind a bookcase (are we playing Clue?)
  • A cove on the beach
  • In a forest
  • In a car
  • In a movie theater (though I hear they have cameras pointed at the audience to catch this sort of thing... but artistic license and all that jazz)
  • In a library
  • On the roof of a tall building
  • Highschool staircase

On a side note, here's an interesting article for your amusement I came across while researching for this art challenge. Special thanks to Finginma for helping me plan this challenge.

Happy drawing and writing!

Posted on

What artistic goals do you have for yourself this year?

Many people set New Year's resolutions for themselves in the new year but have trouble actually sticking with them and seeing them through. Check out my latest video for strategies on how to actually achieve your artistic goals FOR REALSIES.

Reply and let me know what your goals are (whether there for the next week, month, quarter, or year). I'd love to share everyone's goals in my next video!