Mon. August 26, 2019: Shake Up Your Process — #upbeatauthors

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image by Felix Mittemeier via pixabay

Monday, August 26, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

We’ve been talking about different things that inspire us here on the blog for the Upbeat Authors Month of Inspiration. Today, our final day on this topic, let’s talk about shaking up our process as a way to inspire.

We all get stuck. We all have days where there’s resistance.

As a full time writer, I can’t afford the luxury of writer’s block. Yes, I said “luxury” and I will not apologize for it. If I want to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, I can’t indulge in writer’s block. When things get tough, I have to show up and do the work anyway. Just like in any other PROFESSION.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I look at my chapter and have no idea what to do next, even with a detailed outline. Or I know what to do, but the words feel like lead instead of taking fire and racing across the page.

Then I know it’s time to shake things up.

How do I do that?

Lots of different ways:

Shower. Yup. For me, that’s one of the best ways to work through plot problems. I take a shower. I get more inspiration in the shower than just about anywhere else. When a book gives me trouble, I am so clean I squeak and practically glow in the dark.

Cook. I love to cook. While I often like to cook focusing on the cooking itself, my mind often begins to wander and work out plot problems. Food and feeding each other is an important part of many of my books. When I set a book somewhere, I often cook meals from that area that are then incorporated into the book.

When I initially write cooking or food scenes, I overwrite them, overload them with detail and sensory description. I then cut back in the editing, leaving what is necessary to further plot & character.

Housework. Vacuuming, scrubbing things, folding laundry. Again, there are days when I want to do it mindfully, when I need to do it mindfully. Other times, I can let my imagination figure out how to solve writing problems. Then I’m eager to get back to my desk AND the house is clean!

Take a Walk. I’m lucky. I live in a neighborhood that is quiet enough to take a walk. I live a few miles from the beach. I live a few miles from several Audubon sanctuaries. Walking helps me clear my head and figure things out. I tried running, but I hated it so much that I stick to walking.

Additional yoga/meditation. Sometimes getting up and doing a few asanas or sitting on my zafu makes all the difference. It’s a refresher for my tired brain.

Read a book. Reading often fuels the writing. The danger is that you get so into the book, you lose the whole writing day. Sometimes I use a particular book as a reward AFTER I get in my quota for the day.

Switch projects. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. If you have too many unfinished projects around, it drains creative energy. It’s important to finish what you start. I teach an entire class about this and have a Topic Workbook on it: THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Switch locations. When I get restless at either of the two desks in my writing room, I might write in the living room. Or out on the deck. I often go to the library to work. We’re lucky on Cape; every town has a wonderful library with a unique character. Library-hopping is an activity many locals enjoy. There’s also Cape Space, a wonderful co-working space. I don’t write much fiction there, but sometimes I’ll go if I need to video conference or work on projects for my marketing clients.

Go to a museum. As I’ve talked about, over and over again here, I use visual art to fuel my verbal art. Live music often does the same. Or dance. Or theatre.

Experiment in a new genre. Try writing something in a genre in which you don’t normally work. It can be flash fiction, if you like. Or it can grow into something different.

Write a scene several times, in several different perspectives. If you’re struggling with a multi-person scene, do one draft of it in the perspective of each character. Yes, you’ll cut a lot. One of the most ridiculous things I hear from writers in classes is they don’t want to write something that will get cut. It’s not a waste of time. You need what you learn from it to get to your ultimate goal.

Use prompts. There are prompts all over the place. In July, I posted one every day. They are still up here on the 31 Prompts page.

Write differently. If you always outline, try blank paging. If you NEVER outline, outline something and then follow through and write it. (Note: I don’t call it “pantsing.” To me that sounds like an STD. I call it “blank paging”). Whichever way you try, FINISH THE PROJECT. If you didn’t like this foray, you don’t have to do it that way again. BUT FINISH THE PROJECT.

Join online groups where you can hang out with other artists. I find Women Write Change to be especially valuable, in both good times and rough ones. The #remotechat group on Twitter, with its Wednesday afternoon chats, is terrific. We have so much fun there, and exchange so much useful information. #TheMerryWriter, also on Twitter, is a fun monthly game, and I’ve met some great people through it. I’ve had some excellent conversations with other artists of all types via Ello. Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog has grown into a tight, supportive community.

Get together with other artists in person. I like mixing with all kinds of artists. Too often, hanging just with writers lately has become a venting session or all the talk goes to marketing. It’s not enough about craft and content and ideas. (Again, this is why I love Women Write Change — we talk a lot about craft and ideas).

The HobNob Group ended when its founder died last year. I miss it terribly. It was a combination of visual, verbal, and performance artists. We got to learn from each other and support each other. I participate in some of the writer activities around here and go to conferences. I try to attend as many readings and author events as I can. I also go to opening receptions at local museums and art galleries. I’ve cut back on a lot of the other networking I was doing around here (chamber events, business networking events, etc), because I’m setting the foundation for moving in a different direction with my marketing writing.

Online is great, but meeting and spending time with other artists in person is even better.

Make sure you give yourself an Artist Date. We talked about that earlier. If you stick to that, and integrate a weekly Artist Date into your life, a commitment to yourself, you will find that you’re refilling your creative well, and that will flow into all areas of your life.

What are your favorite ways of changing up the process?

Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Thurs. May 16, 2019: Process, Viability, and Attitude Adjustment

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Check out the latest on the garden here.

I still have the Go Fund Me up for the car repairs. Your help in sharing is greatly appreciated.

I was pleasantly surprised that the insurance adjustor got back to me on Tuesday night. Part of the repair costs will be approved. Hopefully, I’ll get the check soon; then I’ll know if and when I can shut down the GoFundMe, and schedule the next phases of repair. Even a little bit will be a relief.

I just hope it doesn’t make my insurance skyrocket.

I also have to face the fact that, within the next couple of years, I’ll need a new, or at least new-to-me, car. I love my little blue rabbit. But it’s twelve years old.

Woke up at 3 AM yesterday. The good part about 3 AM is that, from 3-5 AM, it’s relatively quiet. I can get some thinking and plotting done, even if I don’t get up and actually write.

I got up at 5. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on articles, and on blog posts that have to go up in the next few weeks. Worked on the review of the book I just read.

I’ve now written my way four chapters into ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s a viable book. The next step is to sit down and do a writer’s rough outline, so I can continue with an idea of where I’m going.

My process has changed over the years, from being a total blank pager, to being a total outliner, to mixing the two. I get an idea; if it nags me, I write about four chapters, to see if it can sustain. If it can, I then outline, and then go back and write it.

Some pieces can’t sustain. Some are okay, but I do a nice temporary chapter ending and put them aside to get back to “someday.” (See my Topic Workbook THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS for more on this).

But “process” has to change, as we grow and change as writers. How I created work twenty years ago doesn’t necessarily work the way I do it now, although some tools still work.

Went in and worked onsite with a client.

Came home, changed, had a quick snack, and then drove to Brewster to participate in a panel discussion for a local organization.

Of course, I had handouts. Because I am the Queen of Handouts.

We got off to a bit of a rocky start. I’d given myself an hour to drive there, which would mean I arrived 15 minutes before start time. But the traffic was lighter than I expected, and it only took me 45 minutes to get there. So I was a half hour early. I’m often that early to events — it gives me time to prepare, set out handouts, find out the structure of the event, etc. However, as I tried to get into the building, a board member came out and said, “You’re really early. We’re in the middle of a meeting. Come back in ten minutes.”

Excuse me?

I am one of your guest speakers. An UNPAID speaker, on top of that. (I rarely accept unpaid gigs at this point, but I did here because of my connection with the organization). The proper greeting is, “We’re so glad you’re here! We’re still in the board meeting. I’ll get you set up over here until we’re done.”

Not “come back in ten minutes” so I had to sit outside in the cold.

When I was on the board, I considered it my JOB, my RESPONSIBILITY, my HONOR to make guest speakers and presenters feel welcome and appreciated. I also considered it my job to make the audience feel the same.

“Come back in ten minutes” because they’re busy? No.

I sat outside, fuming. I was tempted to rant on social media. Which was inappropriate. I was tempted to leave. And then I thought, why? Why behave with as little grace as this individual? I’m not Top Poobah Writer of the Universe who demands minions bow to me. It’s really not that big a deal in the scheme of the Universe. It gives me important information, and factors in to future dealings, but, really, it’s not a crisis. I got over myself. Because, in the bigger scheme of things, apart from both my ego, and from feeling that’s not the way to treat people who donate their time to an organization, getting over myself made more sense.

Which was the right choice, because ultimately, it was a lovely evening. My fellow panelists were delightful. The questions, for the most part, were excellent. Except for the couple of people who went on and on about the “art” of what they do and how they didn’t like we talked so much about business. (The topic of the evening was business-oriented, so go figure).

Well, first of all, one does not negate the other. My passion for my art does not mean I forfeit my right to earn a living at it. And if you want to succeed as an author, the business part of it is part of the gig. All of those making faces about how they “don’t do” or “don’t like” websites and social media and all the rest can either pay someone to do it for them — and really PAY, not the attitude around here where $20 is supposed to pay your rent for three months, or better yet, you’re supposed to be THRILLED to do it for free — or suck it up and learn or don’t do it and have a different career trajectory. But if you do the latter, don’t whine that nobody pays attention to you.

Still, it’s an important discussion to have. The more information people have, the more informed decisions they can make for the path that works best for them. There is no ONE WAY — thank goodness! It would be far too dull.

But I’m glad I did it. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in ages, and that was great to catch up.

And I’m glad I didn’t stay mired in annoyance. That wouldn’t have done any good for anyone. This was a case where recognizing the emotion and CHOOSING to move on from it made a lot of sense. I didn’t ignore my response. Nor did I pitch a tantrum. I was able to face it and see how it fit into the bigger picture, and make the best choice for me, which turned out to be positive for everybody.

However, if this individual treats the keynote speakers and better-known workshop presenters at the conference this way, it’s going to hurt the organization.

Happily, it is not my problem!

It was still light-ish driving home, which was nice. I had Prince turned up on the radio for a few miles, and then, by the time I got to Yarmouth, I drove through Yarmouth and Barnstable with the windows down singing along with various radio songs at the top of my lungs. Which was really fun.

The abortion ban in Alabama is disgusting. So are the bans in Georgia and Ohio. I am sick and tired of old white male religious zealots trying to control me. And who are bound and determined to kill me if I don’t “behave.” They must be stopped. Especially when they give rapists more rights than rape victims.

The level of corruption in our government is appalling. Russia is delighted.

Last night, I dreamed about a large tree falling. It woke me, and I was upset, but I managed to get back to sleep. When I looked it up, it said it indicated that I’m “on the wrong path.” Which path is wrong? I’m preparing to make several major changes over the coming months. Is it warning me where I am at this moment is wrong (which I know) or that the options I’m looking at are wrong? So now I’m really confused and worried.

Today, I’m working on ELLA BY THE BAY, GRAVE REACH, and the articles. I hope I can polish the review well enough to send it off, either later today or tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to yoga.

If the weather holds, I’ll do some yard work.

I have a new Trusted Reader for GRAVE REACH. She’s going to read GR, and I’m going to read her magical realism she’s-not-sure-what-it-is.

I hope the rest of the quotes I requested for articles come in soon, so I can finish them and send them off. My mechanic can’t give me an estimate on the rest of the work without seeing the car. That means losing another day of work to go to Plymouth, and then losing another day of work when repairs are actually done. Whereas if I have them done here, at the original estimate, they will drive me to and from work and home. The money I lose by losing those days in Plymouth will even out what I’d save in actual repair costs. So I’m not sure what to do.

I have some more pitches to finesse and send out. I was about to send out a short story to a market, only to find it closed early this reading period. Oh, well.

I also have to finish the first draft of the short play that has to go out this month, so it can marinate for a few days before revisions, and polish “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” so it can go out next week.

One step at a time. That’s the best I can do.

Fri. Aug. 25, 2017: Thoughts on Forced Extroversion by an Introvert

Friday, August 25, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ten more days of Mercury Retrograde. Ack!

Sent out some pitches and an initial step of a proposal for a project I’d really like to do. I only heard about it very close to their deadline, so they may already have hired someone, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it’s in my wheelhouse, right on target (to mix metaphors), so I gave it a shot.

Worked on “Labor Intensive”, which lived up to its name.

Worked on the revisions for SAVASANA AT SEA. I thought I’d done so much, because I’m in serious beat-to-beat change territory, but it was only a few chapters. A little discouraging, but slow progress is better than no progress.

Got another round of copy edits back on PLAYING THE ANGLES. I don’t understand all of them — some of them refer to changes I made — so I have to go over it with the copy editor. Not sure if the changes didn’t save properly, or if I have to enter them differently in the document or what. We’ll get it sorted out.

Sending back some research books for projects that are farther out in the schedule, because I can’t effectively use them in the current timeline. Noted them, so I can order them again when I need them.

Did some promo for the Topic Workbook The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects which holds up well. This fall, I need to apply some of the techniques, as I reschedule projects for 2018.

Getting the balance right between the fiction and the nonfiction is always tricky. That and deciding where and how to use the peak of my creative energy on any given day.

There was a fantastic piece posted on Facebook, leading back to an article about introverts. As an introvert, it resonated. One of the things I deeply resent about living here is that I’m constantly forced into extroversion, which is painful and makes me miserable. In NY, you were who you were, and, as long as you did your work, no one cared. Here, the pressure to be constantly extroverted — and always to someone else’s convenience — makes me both miserable and furious.

I feel like I’ve lost a vital part of what made me good at what I do, living here. On the one hand, the place itself — the ocean, the land — have definitely helped my work, and in some ways, the quality of life is better. But the constant intrusions into my personal space and needs and the demands that I change the core of who I am to “fit” — well, guess what? I won’t. “Fitting in” has never driven me. I tried to be a civilian and a part of community life, and the prevalent “gimme culture” here doesn’t work, along with the lack of support for the arts (in spite of pretending the opposite). So I’m redrawing boundaries, and I don’t really care if it suits anyone else.

The theory that one can’t have privacy or a personal life if you work in the arts or set foot in social media (or even outside one’s own door) is ridiculous. I get to decide what to share with others. They get to decide what to share with me. The only exception is if any of us are involved in something that actively hurts those around us, instead of peaceful co-existence.

Remember, fellow female travelers, all those times you walk down the street, minding your own business, mulling over whatever needs attention and some jackass calls out, “Smile, honey!”

Forced constant extroversion is the same thing.

I’m not going to damn smile if I don’t want to. Not then nor now. (Which, since I usually am smiling, if I’m not, you can be sure there’s a reason for it, and back the eff off).

I’m not going to be forced into being someone I am not, and someone I do not wish to become.

Nor do I have to explain WHY I don’t want to do something or go somewhere. If I say “no” it is no, and I don’t need to qualify it.

I’m going back to being who I am.

Wherever that may lead.

That’s how I got to Broadway and lived my dream. That’ll work moving forward.

In any case, have a great weekend! I have lots of hearth-tending to do this weekend, along with A LOT of writing.

Best wishes to those in the path of Hurricane Harvey. I hope something happens and the storm weakens and it’s not anywhere near as bad as predicted.

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 8:49 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 25, 2017: Thoughts on Forced Extroversion by an Introvert  
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Wed. April 13, 2016: Intense Writing

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Intense few days. Very productive, but intense.

The two new Topic Workbooks, THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS and ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE , are both available here and through the Premium Catalog (which means Kobo, Nook, etc.). I’m pleased that they turned out so well. I’ll be adding them in to the various necessary web pages this week.

I worked on Saturday, and was exhausted by the time I came home. I spent Saturday and most of Sunday working on contest entries. I can’t believe how many entries are well beyond 500 pages — I’m talking 750, 850, 1410! And, in all those cases, it’s Book 1 which is so long! Few of them are well-written enough to sustain that length. Most of them are overwritten, have pages of info dump, and the pace can’t maintain the marathon. The characters and the plot aren’t strong enough to compensate.

Monday morning, off to Buzzards Bay for the Board meeting, followed by the Capital Campaign meeting.

When I got back, I was ready to dig in to the writing. On a whim, I pulled out the second draft of HEART SNATCHER, which I’d put in stasis for awhile, because I was frustrated with it. I was surprised by how well it held up. I made notes — mostly having to do with cuts. It’s in good shape, and I think in another draft, it will be ready to go. I then started re-reading what I have of the second book in the trilogy, HEART BINDER — needs work, but there’s promise, especially since I outlined the entire trilogy and smoothed over logistical lapses early on. I want to find a way to add it into the current schedule, while not dropping the ball on either SONGBOUND SISTERS or “Just a Drop.”

Got some work done on Non-Fiction #2, which is chugging along nicely.

Tuesday morning, I rewrote about the first 100 pages of HEART BINDER, fixing a lot of the problems and making it continue smoothly from HEART SNATCHER.

In the afternoon, I finished up the contest entries and made sure the choices were the ones I believed in most strongly.

By the end of this week, I’ll get in the entries for the radio contest, and those will be done by the end of the month.

This morning, I revised the prologue and first three chapters on the next draft of HEART SNATCHER. It will be a long day at work, but I’m eager to get back home this evening and write some more. I’m going to spend the next three days on this trilogy, and then, once I’ve got that in the groove, add in SONGBOUND and “Drop” over the weekend.

Of course, because I have to be inside for the next three days, it’s gorgeous out. But the weather is supposed to hold all weekend and finally get warmer, so maybe we can start setting up the deck.

Devon

Published in: on April 13, 2016 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 13, 2016: Intense Writing  
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Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?

There are two traps here: one is to over-outline and use that as an excuse to not get down to writing. The other is to blank page (also called “pantsing”, an expression, which, to me, means “lazy amateur who doesn’t care”) and then not know what to do next.

There is nothing wrong with either technique, unless it prevents you from doing the actual writing.

If you have tight deadlines or juggle multiple projects, I suggest that you outline. That way, you can sit down each day and have an idea of the day’s work, thereby meeting your quota. When you Blank Page, it’s very easy to sit down, be overtired or unfocused, say “I can’t”, get up and walk away. Do that for a few days, and you’ve blown your goal.

You’re not in competition with any one except yourself, but unfinished projects drain creative energy. In fact, I teach a class called “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects”. Make the commitment to do this, fulfill the commitment during the month, go past it if you need to in order to finish, and THEN decide where you’ll take it.

Remember, you are under no obligation to ever publish this. So don’t look at it and think, “it sucks, no one will ever want it.” If you choose to keep working on future drafts, it will have a life beyond the first one. If you choose to stick it in a drawer and use what you learned on a different project, that’s fine. It’s your CHOICE. But make sure it’s a CHOICE and not a cop-out by not finishing.

If you decide to outline, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I do what I call a “Writer’s Rough”, which is basically a scene list with a sentence or two of description or dialogue about each scene. When I sit down to write, I fill it in. For me, that is the best of both worlds – I’ve got a framework, but I’ve got room to explore.

There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it all in your head, if you’re good at that. Sometimes, writing it down dilutes the creative pressure, and you need to build it in order to have the momentum to carry you through.

Don’t be afraid of tangents – the focus of a first draft is words on paper. You cut and shape in the next draft(s).

Published in: on October 28, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?  
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Mon. Feb. 4, 2013: Workshops and Rewrites

Monday, February 4, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

We had snow both Saturday and last night. Not bad, just a dusting. It’s pretty.

Imbolc was good on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to spring.

The January Wrap-Up is up over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. I still have to post February’s To-Do List. The webhost’s server was down yesterday, which was very frustrating.

Gorged myself on Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series over the weekend. I really like the books, and I’m eager for her next release in August. She is the only contemporary author I can think of who can effectively use third person omniscient and it doesn’t feel jarring.

Caught up on classwork. I decided to give the Astrobiology quiz a shot (I planned to audit, not take it for credit), but I got 9.50 out of a possible 10.00, so I just might give it a shot. It’s interesting to see how the Astrobiology course echoes material learned in Sustainability, Philosophy, and the two other astronomy courses. Did the reading for the SF/Fantasy class — Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Lucy Chase 1882 version. Interesting to re-read them with an adult perspective, and also, realize how many of them have been filtered and changed through others’ visions and how little I remembered of the actual tales. The Philosophy class is interesting, and I’m curious to see what direction it goes it. It does prove why the Right wants to cut education funding — because education encourages independent thought, and that means questioning special interests and fundamentalists.

Finished the article for my editor and sent it off. I have to get some press out for the play today and putting us in the events calendars. I’ve been working on the revision of the other play, SEVEN OF SWORDS, which I have to finish today. The first 2/3 hold together better than I expected, but the last third needs focus. I’ve been playing with different possibilities, so now I have to sit down and apply them. Writing one of the other short stories in my head, and have to sit down and finish another story today. Plus, some scenes from a different piece are bugging me; I want to note them so I don’t lose them, and then schedule them in the queue.

I need to finish up work for an editing client, and “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” starts today. I also have to put finishing touches on the handbook for “Sensory Perceptions.”

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction” next week, here. And, also next week, if you’re an actor based on Cape Cod/South Shore, the audition details for the play are here.

Better get going – today’s busy!

Devon

Wed. Jan. 30, 2013: Moving Past Frustrations

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter direct
Cloudy and cold

Well, yesterday was a frustrating day, full of cleaning up messes that shouldn’t have been mine, interrupted writing time, and getting a knife in the back up to the hilt. Fortunately, I have a long reach, have removed the instrument of destruction, salved the wound, cleaned the weapon, and now I’m biding my time.

On a happier note, my editor suggested me for a gig. I contacted the person hiring, who’d filled all the slots, I made a flippant comment about keeping me in mind WHEN someone flaked, and he immediately responded that I was right, I should consider myself in as an alternate and part of the loop from Day 1! Getting hired because I’m a brat — I love it.

Also, back-and-forth with my wonderful agent on a couple of things, and more people signing up for the upcoming classes, and some possible new editing clients.

Unfortunately, I also got hit with a migraine in the middle of the day; however, stuff had to get done, so other than lying down for about 20 minutes, I had to push through. Nothing like feeling someone’s repeatedly driving a pickaxe through your skull to sour the day.

I wrote a review this morning, and I have to clear a few things off my desk. I have to take my mom to the clinic later — it’s a regular appointment, but she fell yesterday, and I want to make sure she’s checked out for that, too, when she goes to the doctor on Friday.

Audition notices go out today — if you’re in the area, come on by! As far as writing goes, you can still sign up for “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” on Feb. 4-6 and “Journal into Fiction” from Feb. 11-14 here.

Onward to meet the day!

Devon

Mon. Jan. 28, 2013: Gearing Up for A Busy Week

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Iris enjoys a winter nap

Monday, January 28, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Have to put the finishing touches on this draft of the play today.

Allowed myself to bask in the praise from a magazine editor who liked a submission (although she didn’t take this one, too many paranormal elements), but loved the writing, the pacing, the characters, etc., and asked to see whatever I do next in the genre. So I’m doing it! 😉 Also allowed myself to bask in the praise from a Major NY agent, who saw an article I wrote (the one for WOW) and shot me an email to tell me it was a well-written piece. Baby steps in the right direction!

I felt very burned out, so took a lot of time this weekend to refill the creative well, in this case, by reading.

Read Louise Penny’s STILL LIFE, her first Armand Gamache mystery. She is the only contemporary writer I can think of who can pull off third person omniscient, because she glides from head to head, giving you time in the neutral space between the characters, instead of head-hopping. There are plenty of writers — many in chick lit, romance, and cozy mystery — who try to do this and fail miserably. But Penny is such a beautifully nuanced writer that she can pull it off. Once I read STILL LIFE, I went back and re-read A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, the first of hers I read, released in 2011, and still one of my favorite books. Just beautifully done.

I also read THE BOOKMAN’S WAKE, by John Dunning, and liked it a lot. As someone who teeters on the edge of bibliophilia and could easily tip into bibliomania, the details about the book business in his series fascinates me.

I read a book I promised to review for a blog tour — liked it, will write it up today, and started re-reading both Julia Cameron’s THE SOUND OF PAPER and Starhawk’s THE SPIRAL DANCE. I have a lot of problems with many of Julia Cameron’s tenets, although I think her book THE RIGHT TO WRITE is her best. I agree with her Artist Dates — I think they’re vital. I disagree with the Morning Pages — for me, my first writing needs to be on my Primary Project, not whatever’s on my mind, because that is when my creative time is most fertile. If I do Morning Pages, I’ve used that time for something akin to journal-keeping, and lost my best creative time. But they work for a lot of people, and more power to them. And I’m glad she emphasizes the need to show up at the page every day, whether one feels like it or not.

It will be interesting to re-read Starhawk’s work from this perspective, rather than when I first read her books in the mid-1990s. I’m looking forward to it.

Worked with students. Finished up work with one editing client and have the rest who took advantage of the editing special to do this week. The special is over, and rates are back to normal. Doing some more prep work on the February classes. “Sensory Perceptions” finishes this week. I’ve got a couple of articles I want to pitch, two short stories to prep — one for release on February 1 (the next Samantha Wright piece) and one to send to a submission call.

I want to do some more work on the play before I send it to the actors already cast, and we have to set up auditions for the three remaining roles.

Lots to do, so I better get to work!

Devon

Don’t forget to breathe new life into old projects during “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” Feb. 4-6, and transform journal entries into viable fiction in “Journal into Fiction” from Feb. 11-14. Information and registration here.

Tues. Jan. 15, 2013: Herding WordCats (Real Cats are Easier)

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Violet likes the cleared-off table — the one she’s not supposed to be on!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Temperatures are going down today. It will be chilly!

Stop by the mid-month check in on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, and let’s see how we’re doing this month.

I’ve got the laundry going — amazing how fast it piles up.

Yesterday felt a bit like herding cats, so today I have to remove myself from much of that and buckle down to a lot of writing. I spent a lot of hours working, I did a lot, but felt like nothing was really accomplished by the end of the day.

The NMLC got some great coverage of the seal release in several papers, which was exciting. In fact, when I went to my afternoon meeting at another organization, they’d seen it and were all excited, too. Which is great, because no matter what field we’re in, we’re all in this together, right?

“Too Much Mistletoe” was just approved for the Smashwords Premium Catalog, which is exciting. Now, I have to make the other edits and see if I can get the other pieces in there, too.

My list of things that has to get done today is LOOONG and it won’t do itself (darn it, wish I could teach those words to type themselves).

Have a great day, everyone!

Devon

Come join us at “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” workshop Feb. 4-6. Take a look at projects you’ve put aside. Learn how to get promising ones back into your schedule, and how to lay to rest the ones of which you need to let go. Information and registration here.