August 2018: Going Big

Hey, everybody! K. A. Parker here with another monthly update.

In July, I talked about comfort zones and how I try to take the first step out of them. In this post, I’m going to be talking about something a little similar: going big and how to stay there.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Going Big…

A whopping six(!) months ago, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) every Wednesday online with the best people I could have asked for. On the very first session, I was a mess. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I gave wrong information about the story timeline because I was just confused and scared that I’d do something wrong. I’d never been so bold as to ask a bunch of strangers on the Internet to play I game that I, to this day, still don’t know understand completely.

But what I do know, from my years of study and practice, is how to tell an engaging story, and that means going big over going home. On August 1st, I got a first-hand taste of what it felt like to finally nail that lesson on the head.

In my month-long study of Hugo Award-Winning Fiction, I learned that engaging, fantastic stories don’t just aim for the middle. They “reach for the stars” while also staying grounded in the ordinary. Take the premise of the wonderful video game, Shadow of the Colossus, as an example: A boy wants to revive the girl he loves (ordinary) and has to defeat the sixteen colossi that seal the entity that will grant his wish (extraordinary). Boom! Instantly engaging idea, right?

Well, in D&D, it’s like that, too. It’s not enough that I have extraordinary monsters, characters, and creatures for the players to interact with; they have to be ordinary in some way, too. Vice versa, also. Mind you, this doesn’t have to happen all the time. There can be ordinary people/creatures and extraordinary people/creatures period.

But in a game like D&D, where the story is still being written by you and players, no idea is outlandish or stupid enough to throw away (unless you’re playing a game with setting restrictions and such, but I digress). There were several times when I had an idea in my head and I thought, “But what if I’m revealing too much too soon? Maybe I should keep it for later.” Sure, there will be things that I want to keep secret or flesh out later, but for most of the ideas I had in my head, I decided to run with them anyway.

And that’s because I learned that no matter what idea I come up with now, there will always be a better one around the corner. If I don’t do big and plant those seeds now, the ideas that sprout from the aftershocks won’t be there for me to grasp at later.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about what happened on that August 1st session since it would take too long to explain, but…let’s just say that if I didn’t do the crazy big things that I did that session, I don’t think I would have received applause from my players once the session was done. And as someone who wants to write stories professionally for a living, that was music to my ears. I got them excited, and in turn, I got myself excited to plan the next session and the session after that.

But in all this goodness, I have to remember not to let my ego run away from me and to not let the fire that burns under me cause me to self-immolate.

Because burn-out is real.

…When It Counts

Remember how I told you all last month that I was trying to get back into walking?

Well, I got a Fitbit and started walking again 😀 !

And then, I crashed.

I walked every day for a single week, and then my hormones said, “Uh, yeah, no. We’re going to put this on hold for a bit, ’cause you still can’t sleep well, remember?”

But, yeah. I tried to go big with my body, and that didn’t end up working.

And, again, I think it’s because I didn’t take my own advice in July and take baby steps like I was doing before. I’m also still use to wearing a device that buzzes every hour if I haven’t done 250 steps, so that’s new as well. I just need to time to get used to this new thing I’m wearing and how it works, so rather than trying to hit my 7-day-per-week exercise goal this week, I went for a 1-day goal this week. Next week, it might be two, then three, then onward.

And if that doesn’t work, then there’s something completely different that I need to address.

Because I know I can go big. I’ve done it before. I just need to take the small steps necessary to make the bigger steps I want in the future. I need to catch my first idea so that I can catch an ever bigger one down the line. I need to cast the first die just like everybody else.

One thing at a time, just like everything else.

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