New to Pacemaker Challenges- Discussion Boards!

We’re so happy to introduce the newest member of the Pacemaker family- discussion boards! Now, as part of our paid subscription based Challenges feature, not only will you be able to create interesting Challenges for your writing groups/classrooms, but you’ll have a space where participants can talk to each other! This has been a highly requested feature and something we’ve been very eager to put to beta. It’s pretty much version 1 right now- a very simple prototype of what users have asked for, so do be gentle with us if you find some bugs here or there :).

We’re always looking at how you, our beloved users, use the Pacemaker features, and orient our updates in the direction of those which are most popular and valued. So if you love the idea of a social feature, use it! You’ll likely see it develop into something much more sophisticated and intuitive!

Now’s a good time to stop by our NaNoWriMo Tournament and drop a note. Let us know you won NaNoWriMo, or that you didn’t quite get your writing project off its feet this year. Encourage someone who is almost there to make that final push! Tell us how much you’re looking forward to Christmas or how much you’re looking forward to Christmas being over! Just say something!

We want to make a more social Pacemaker; we hope this is a step in the right direction!

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Pacemaker NaNoWriMo Tournament- Plotters vs Pantsers

We’re one week into NaNoWriMo and the Pacemaker NaNoWriMo Tournament!

Now, we could’ve been nice and created an Open Pacemaker Challenge Group where we encourage participants to compete only against themselves. INSTEAD, we decided to start a bit of a fire… and then fan the flame!

We’re pitting Plotters against Pantsers to see who’ll come out on top!

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Each member of the Team with the higher total word count at the end of NaNoWriMo gets a delightful new pin to proudly display on his/her profile.

( See what we did there? 🙂 )

Over the past seven days each Team has enjoyed a few moments in the top spot.

Surprisingly (at least to us) there have always been more Pantsers than Plotters BUT, the Plotters seem to be producing more words per person than the Pantsers on average. We have a sneaky suspicion that the Pantsers are playing a bit of a numbers game BUT only time will tell, it’s still very much anybody’s game!

SO! Are you a Plotter- meticulously planning out the details of your novel pre-NaNoWriMo so that you hit the ground running, map in hand, November 1st? Or are you a Pantser, literally flying into NaNoWriMo by the seat of your pants, no plan, just a wing and prayer?

Whichever way, there’s a place for you in the Pacemaker NaNoWriMo Tournament! There’s still plenty of time to join. Pick a side and make your word count, count!

 

 

Let’s walk through Creating a Pacemakerplan!

Many of you reading this would already be very familiar with the process of creating a Pacemakerplan. Our hope is that the process is so intuitive that anyone who arrives at pacemaker.press is able to easily jump right in and get started. For others, this will be your first visualization of the process from start to finish. Either way, you’re here now, so why not follow along with us below?  There’s really no substitute for a hands-on experience though. So once you’re through here, head over to the site and create your very own!

Step 1: Enter Basic Project Info (What am I doing?)

Give your plan a unique name and classify your writing project.

Under ‘Activity’, specify the particular action you’re doing to create your content (writing, revising, translating etc.). Then under ‘Content’, select the final product you’re hoping to produce (dissertation, essay, thesis etc.).

Step 2: Set your Goals (Where am I going?)

Define the parameters of your writing project.

It’s time to quantify your project. Enter ‘Amount of Work’ and then select ‘How it’s measured’. You might be doing 50,000 words, or 200 hours, or 45 chapters! However your project is measured, here’s the place to make it known. After that’s done, select the time parameters of your project (start and end dates), and voilà, the first version of your Pacemakerplan appears!

 

Pro tip: You can also choose to display an Overall Target or a Daily Target. If you want to achieve your ‘Amount of Work’ daily select ‘Daily’ (you will still be able to choose days to skip writing if you wish). However, if your ‘Amount of Work’ is your overall target, as in the hypothetical project we’re creating here, leave it as is!

Step 3: Define your strategy (How the heck am I getting there?!)

So you know where you’re going to start, and you know where you’re going to finish, but how in the world are you planning on getting there?! Well, just like a GPS allows you to plot a course from point A to point B, while maybe avoiding toll roads, and optimizing for the fastest route, Pacemaker offers you many ways to get to your goal.

Right now we have 7 Strategy Presets from which you can choose: Steadily, Rising to the Challenge, Biting the Bullet, Mountain Hike, Valley, Oscillating and Random. You’ll find these along with clear descriptions on how they affect your plan right there in the Strategy box.

Here’s an example of the plan we’re creating here using all 7 presets:

You may also choose an intensity for your plan which changes how aggressively a particular strategy is applied. For example, on the ‘gentle’ setting, you won’t see too much variation in your word count targets using most strategies. However, with ‘hard core’, daily goal targets will change more drastically day to day.

For our purposes, let’s go with an average intensity, Oscillating preset, because let’s face it, Oscillating creates the most visually mesmerizing graphs!

Step 4: Customizations (Should I stop to see anything along the way, you know, take in the sights?)

On a road trip from Point A to Point B, after you’ve planned your route, you may decide to do a bit of sightseeing. You may opt to linger a bit longer here or there, or decide to bypass some places altogether.

The Customizations panel in Pacemaker allows you to do something similar. Here you can choose to write more or less on some days, or skip some days altogether (say write more every Tuesday and skip Thursdays or skip whole weeks at a time). You can also reserve a few days at the end of your project for editing, revision etc.  you know, just in case.

For our example, let’s skip weekends and ‘Do More’ on Mondays because, why not? Aaand let’s not reserve any buffer days at the end because, well, we’re just fly like that. Here it is:

Step 5: Display (What kind of map do I want on my journey?)

Choose how you’d like to see your plan displayed: Calendar, Graph or Table. For the commitment-phobes, don’t worry, you can change the display as often as you’d like, you won’t be ‘locked in’ to one display indefinitely.

You know the drill, same plan, 3 ways:

Step 6: Progress (How do I stay on track to finish on time?)

Do you want your plan to adjust based on your progress or do you always want to see how you’re performing in relation to your original plan? Let’s say you write 1000 words on day 1, instead of the 600 your plan prescribed, do you want your plan to automatically recalculate your plan in light of this surplus, or do you want it to stay the same so you can see on your graph that you surpassed your day’s goal?

You’ll also have the opportunity to select how you want to input your progress. You can choose to either record how far you’ve reached each day, or you could record the exact quantity you completed each day. I suppose it just depends on how much math you feel like doing :).

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So there you have it! In a few quick steps, you have your very own Pacemakerplan! We’ve tried to make the process as easy and intuitive as possible, but we’re always looking for opportunities to make the process even more so. So if you think of a way we can streamline it even further, we’d love to hear about it!

Happy writing everyone, and thanks for using Pacemaker!