I'm all for keeping writing snippets and ideas 'in-sight' - I know where they are, what ideas are sitting there, how some of them may recombine, etc. But it does rather remove the joy of finding once-forgotten ones. Over time, ideas become, if not stale, then a little familiar. They're still interesting but they no longer fill you with the urge to create from them.
I needed a paper notebook to work on some stories on a train yesterday. I picked one from my collection for its formfactor, entirely forgetting that it had been in use as a regular writer's notebook for a brief period in 2008. When I opened it on the train, I found so many wonderful snippets that I remember thinking of, and writing down, and then forgetting about (because they were written down). The ideas are all fresh and exciting again.
I don't think this works for me as an overall strategy - far too haphazard for my typical working style. But it was a nice reminder of how "the other half" of writerly-types can live.
Monday, 28 January 2013
Many years ago, I made plans (and even a prototype) for software that would help me track where all my stories were, in both the production and submission processes. That was before the kindle, before ebooks and self-publishing and the whole industry going all wibbly-wobbly. The whole project has been on hold until I work out the best way to cater for the current systems and future-proof it against directions the industry might go.
But in the meantime, I still needed a way to keep track of what stories I had and who was currently looking at them. I've used lists on pieces of paper, and word documents, google doc documents, spreadsheets and probably a few other things, too, but none of them ever really worked for me.
The main problem is that I always have several things going on at once. I have (at current count) one novel "actively" being prepped for drafting and six waiting in the wings (not counting the sequels to the active one); four short stories that are actually novellas and need to be rewritten, five short stories in need of editing to be sent out, one out under submission and well over fifty story ideas in varying levels of plannedness. And at any given time a story will shuffle back and forth between being edited, or drafted (if I think it needs a complete rewrite) or back to the 'idea' section (if it needs a complete redesign), etc. Lists and spreadsheets really weren't doing it for me.
Somewhere more than six months ago, my brother casually passed along a link to a site called Trello, which various people were using for project management and all kinds of things. It's awesome. It goes something like this:
Monday, 24 September 2012
I haven't forgotten about the what-to-do-with-your-new-novel series, I'm just writing a few easy topics because it's been a hard couple of weeks with illness.
I wrote yesterday about how to keep yourself writing. One of the key factors is recognising the pattern - realising that it isn't the book, it's just "what you do" at this point in your novel. The way to recognise patterns is to record them in the first place.
I have two methods I use to record:
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
I am way behind on my reading-of-blogs; I've managed to pare it down to just the writer blogs that are unread, and even pare out most of the 'filler' posts in there that I don't need to read, but that still leaves 72 intersting, lengthy posts that I want to read. And like a child faced with too many lollies, I don't want to start reading any of them because as soon as I read one, I'm not reading the rest of them, and I'm sure I'll forget any crucial nuggets of wisdom they had anyway.
Maybe I need to start a 'blog wisdom' wiki for myself, so I can just copy in the good paragraph or idea or rule that they have and then forget them. I only just thought of that as I wrote it. Heh. Slightly less of a filler post, now: don't feel inundated by information you should remember; rip out the guts of it and keep them, throw the rest away. Probably best to rephrase rather than copy, as you'll be tempted to copy the whole article, which defeats the purpose, and you won't retain as much as if you rewrite.
Right. Onto the filler section: paper castle awesomeness that took four years to build. Also, I want this secret compartment coffee table.
Tuesday, 07 February 2012
I have a confession to make: it positively drives me up the wall when people continually ask me questions or to fix something or do something that they could easily do themselves if they'd looked it up on google. With the exception of my mother (because she's my mother, she has inbuilt biological overrides on my irritation circuits), people who constantly and repeatedly need me to hold their hand or tell them how to do very simple things make serious dents in my estimation of their intelligence. People who aren't prepared to think for themselves and try to find their own answers first* do not get a large slice of my patience.
* Caveat: people who come to me already having tried and failed to find an answer for themselves get endless patience. Failing is not a problem. Failing to try is.
Even more flabberghasting are the people who come to writing masterclasses who clearly haven't done the slightest bit of research about their intended profession. They've no idea what agents are, how copyright works, how to send their book to a publisher. I genuinely do not understand how someone could consider going in to a certain field or profession and not at least do some cursory research on it. How could you sit there, knowing your own ignorance on something that's important to you, and not attempt to rectify it?
I thought it was mostly the previous generation's aversion to the internet - and I can understand that. I remember the days before mobile phones and internet (just), and the technological world moves faster and faster each year. If you weren't born with wifi embedded in your skull like generation Y it can be very hard to keep up, and turning to a blank webpage that's supposed to magically answer your question is not a natural instinct. But I've been dealing with people of my generation and younger lately who do this all the time. We're building something with software X, and every ten minutes they'll come and ask me how to do task A, B, C or F with it. And I look at them and think what the hell do you do when you're by yourself and you want to know something?
Unfortunately I'm technically their manager, so it's not very professional for me to use the snarky answer I used to give my students: google is your friend. But I wish I could. Somewhere along the way, we're forgetting to teach people to think for themselves, and we've failed completely to teach them that they should.
I have observered however that there's a skill to googling things. There must be, because I've watched parents, friends, bosses, minions and students consistently fail to find anything useful on google, and quite often come up with the least reputable site results possible. So I thought if I explained a little of how the magic ouiji page works, people would find it easier to help themselves when they need answers.
How to use google more effectively
There are billions of web pages out there. Some of them have useful information, some of them have propoganda, some of them have porn, gambling and cheap drug sales. They're all out there, like a houses in an enormous city.
Google has a phone directory for the city - they've sent out thousands of little robots (called 'web spiders') that look at each and every webpage and record what's in it. They don't record the whole webpage, because a map that's as big as the city it's mapping would be useless. Instead, they look at what words appear commonly in the text (ignoring things like 'the, an, a' etc) and use that to determine what the page is 'about'. They summarise each page by creating a little spreadsheet of each non-structural word and its frequency. (To those in the know: I know I'm oversimplifying, the finer detail really isn't the point, here.)
So google has a giant directory that tells it what each page is 'about'. When you type in a search query, it matches up the words in your query with its directory and tries to find the pages that have the words you used. Now, there's a little bit of extra processing - for example, words like 'write', 'writing', 'writer' and 'written' are so similar semantically that google considers them to be effectively the same word, and queries for 'writing' often return results for writers, written or write. It also does a little bit of magic to weed out pages that aren't useful (for example, pages that just copy other websites, pages that list lots of keywords without any actual content, etc), pages that haven't been updated in ten years, and pages that nobody links to (implying they're not a respected resource) but the end result is a list of pages that contain words from your search query. Any pages that have your search query phrase - that is, the words in the exact order you wrote them - will be given priority.
Armed with this knowledge, it's much easier to write queries that will return useful results: you need to think not from the point of view of your question, but from the point of view of the answer you're looking for. For a page to be (probably) useful to you, what words does it need to contain - ie, what is it talking about? How should that be phrased?
For example, a while ago I had a large number of PDF documents that needed to be refactored, paginated, sectioned and combined into one document. As I'm already skilled in InDesign, I was hoping I could use it to do the job, but I wasn't sure if InDesign could handle PDFs in the right way to do that. If I imagined the page I wanted as an answer, the most important words it would have had would be: PDF, InDesign, Edit, and probably also page numbers. So that's the start of my query.
However, I also knew that InDesign could be used to add page numbers to InDesign files, and this was most likely a more common procedure (meaning more web pages would be talking about that than talking about editing PDF files). Google can't really do semantics - it's purely a word-match and numbers game. Which means that if I added the term 'page numbers' to my query, because of the sheer numbers I'd be more likely to get pages talking about creating PDFs from InDesign files (after adding page numbers) than editing PDFs directly. A different semantic notion from the one I wanted, and one that google can't separate intelligently - we have to use the right search combination to do it ourselves. So - better to keep it to PDF, Edit and InDesign.
This can be a difficult balancing act, especially if you're searching for something that you're not very knowledgable on. The general rule is that if a search term is making the query more specific and narrow (for example, from 'PDF' to 'Edit PDF' - that's more specific about PDFs) then it's probably going to be helpful. But if it's looking for related, but not more specific information (editing and adding page numbers are related concepts, but not necessarily more specific - as they mean very similar things, you'd use one or the other, but not both) then the term may actually send the query off in the wrong direction. It's best to use as few search terms as possible, and choose them carefully.
Think of it like a venn diagram: using two circles that overlap a little is useful. But if you're using two circles where one circle is completely inside the other, then one of those circles isn't useful.
It generally works better if you can construct a phrase that you'd like to see in the answer (see above re: google gives priority to exact phrase matches) - like "How to edit PDF files with InDesign", or "Can I edit PDF files in InDesign". If you have a specific how-to, or can-I question, posing the query as a question will almost certainly get you decent results, because of the how-to wikis and question-answer sites out there.
It does take practise, but with time you'll learn intuitively what makes for a good search query and what doesn't. And then you're no longer reliant on your son / husband / daughter / wife / neighbour's kid for how to do things or fix things. Just don't tell everyone else that you know how to do it, or they'll all start coming to you.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
I can’t for the life of me keep to a schedule. Oh, I can get to work on time and keep appointments and for the most part go to bed at a sensible hour, because Evening-Sofie has finally figured out that if she makes Morning-Sofie sleepy, that sleepiness is passed on though Afternoon-Sofie, and nobody has any fun. But as for internal schedules - schedules for stuff that nobody else cares about (except of course if it doesn’t get done at all) - I’ll happily make them, but they’re a guilt-edged (hah) invitation to Do Something Else.
Write? I need to do some programming, now. Finish editing that draft? I haven’t finished putting the washing on. It came to my attention mostly when I realised it was well past time that I was cooking dinner, and yet I was emailing my mother (I call these queries ‘Moogling’) to ask her advice on how to better keep to a schedule.
I thought I was good at scheduling. I managed my Honours degree while working part time and with almost a month spare for polishing the thesis. I completed two masters degrees at the same time while working three jobs. But those were all based on external deadlines. They had a logical order, and due dates carved in stone, and the left side of my brain has learned how to manage those effortlessly.
The left side of my brain is a scheduling-nazi. It likes everything to be planned out so it knows what I’ll be doing and when, how much time I can expect to spend on a project, when a project will be finished or ready for the next stage, what else I can fit in. It gets very upset when other people ride roughshod over that with invitations to go be social somewhere. It gets stressed when things on today’s To Do list aren’t done.
The right side of my brain hates those schedules. Especially if they have times attached to them - write from 6pm to 8pm - but I don’t feel like it right now. I’d rather work on this. Get this list of 5 things done - okay, we’ll do some of those, but surely some of them can wait until tomorrow, or next week even.
It's usually my left brain that thinks about scheduling and organising. And it can't understand what the problem is - why is it so hard? Surely I'm just being lazy, just put the butt in the chair and do the work. It sees it as a discipline problem, but I'm not so sure of that.
I still get things done. And anything with an external deadline - go to work, go to sleep, get these critiques done - will be completed on time. But my right brain is resisting any attempts to plan or schedule when my creative projects will be worked on, and which one gets worked on when
I’m still looking for a solution, here. Some way to convince my right brain to work with some kind of predictability. But as they say, the first step is always recognising there’s a problem, and my problem is the part of my brain that does all the creative stuff has no interest in doing so on demand. I’ll keep you posted if I find some solutions.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Based on last week’s post about workspaces - now is the time to imagine your truly perfect workspace. What would be your ideal place to work? Describe as generally or specifically as you want. Think about:Visuals - what can you see (or equally important, what can’t you see?) Sounds - what can you hear (and, again, what can’t you hear? What are you shielded from?) Smells - do any particular smells make you feel secure and safe, or inspired, or invigorated? Objects - what ‘things’ do you need - and what do you not want there? A desk? a couch? a pile of cushions? Reference books? A giant whiteboard? Internet, no internet? Laptop? Notepad? Touch - what should those objects be made of - is your desk made of glass, or wood, or a door supported by four brick towers? Do you have carpet? floorboards? Surroundings - what’s outside your work area (or is your work area outside?) and how much of it can you see or hear?
Make sure you don’t just create somewhere that you’d want to be in, but somewhere that you’d want to work in. For example, I’d love to have an office with spectacular views of rainforest or mountains or rolling hills - but I know that, if I had them, I’d spend all my day “thinking” by looking out the window. (Now, an office that didn’t face those views that had an adjoining room that did - that’s different.)
Now for the hard part - look at your list of requirements and try to find the common themes. Is it ‘something to inspire me’, or ‘peace and quiet’, or the colour teal (guilty), or somewhere that feels secure? This is important, because unless you’re the next J. K, you’re not going to be able to have your wonderful perfect workspace that you just described. It's tough. Life happens. But if you work out why you want those things - what underlying problem or need they solve - maybe you can adapt your current space to something that works better for you.
The last step should be obvious - you’ve found what’s important to you - inspiration, peace, teal, security, whatever. Now, what steps can you take to make your current workspace fulfill more of that need? What objects, colours or things could you put near to inspire you? How can you make your area more peaceful? What can you get away with painting teal? What would make you feel more secure?
Repeat until you have a workspace that you’re comfortable actually working in. You’ll know this is the case when you’re actually working in it. And remember that your needs will change as you do. If you find yourself feeling frustrated in your physical space, or that where you're trying to write just isn't working, do this exercise again, and see what you can fix.
Monday, 28 November 2011
For most of my life, writing has played second-fiddle to my education. I'll admit that most of that was due to me going around getting more education than was probably good for me, but my workspace was never writer-centric.
It was essentially my life in desk-format. I'd plonk my university books at one end with the tutes I was going to be teaching, pile my assignments in descending order of duedates (topped with whatever bill had to be paid in the next few days) near my mouse, and create horizontal 'files' of any interesting article, note, book, doodles, picture, letter, page of notebook, stickynote, sandwich* or gadget that I was pretty sure I'd want later**. Drafts of stories (and their edits, redrafts, feedback from my writing groups and notes for improvement) had their own special pile under the really urgent notes from <health and car care profesisonals> assuring me I was overdue for my <whatever>, which kept the stories safe from accidental exposure to editing, sunlight or cogitation. You get the notion that my writing really blossomed under this regime.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
I was all geared up to do Nano this year - of sorts. I was going to write a novel, but it probably wasn’t going to be 50,000 words. I didn’t know how many words it was going to be, and I wasn’t going to track it. Because that number, when you come down to it, is a nonsense way of judging whether you’re “done” yet.
I read this post by Jason Black on Plot to Punctuation who gave a great argument against using word count as a daily goal. The little number at the bottom of the screen (or wherever) takes far more of your focus than the words you’re churning out to increase it, and tempts you to stop when you’re on a roll, just because you’ve reached today’s number, or keep pushing when all you’re doing is padding or waffling because you still have another 200 words to go.
I find when I give myself wordcount goals, that rapidly becomes the case. And because my first drafts of anything tend to be absolute-bare-bones, super-condensed story, I fight the urge to pad out my story when the wordcount’s a little low despite my being halfway through already.
When you consider that, especially for self-publishing, story-length really doesn’t even matter anymore, it seems fairly idiotic for me to focus so much on wordcount when it hinders me in so many ways.
Black has a great solution that I really wish I’d thought of earlier. He’s ignoring wordcount, and focussing instead on scenes.
It makes so much sense. Instead of having some fairly arbitrary counter distracting you, you judge your progress by how much of the story you’ve completed. You know instinctively how far through the scene you are. Scenes invite you to finish them, it’s a much more natural, unobtrusive goal. You’re not tracking a number while you write, you’re just writing this scene.
Scenes in my novels range from 2000 to 5000 words. I can write a scene - or most of one, if it’s a long one - in a day’s writing, before and after work. And serendipitously enough, my novel broke down into exactly thirty scenes. So my great plan was: one scene a day (accepting that they’d be bare-bones scenes. I go back on a second pass and fill in the description and detail and everything else before I consider the draft ‘finished’).
I was due back from Paris the morning of the 1st (oh, yeah, I went to Paris. Again. Did I mention that? Pics in later posts. Luxembourg is beautiful.). That gave me, somewhat optimistically, a full day to write a scene. Allowing for jetlag, I still had several full free days before I had to go back to work. If I missed the first day, I could make up for it later.
I didn’t account for Qantas. I didn’t account for a three-hour delay on the euro-star. I didn’t account for jetlag to be coupled with illness, sunburn and my fridge breaking down, so that my brain was too scattered to even think about story until possibly last night. Well, Friday night. Because I write these in advance. Sorry.
So, a week late, I could still start and make the ‘spirit’ of Nano. I looked at my story-plot, all neat and organised in Scrivener. Then I realised that, while I’d plotted out my story, I’d skimped on the worldbuilding. Again.
Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that spending time ‘worldbuilding’ outside of actually writing the novel or just daydreaming was a form of procrastination. Actually writing down the story bible was procrastination, and should be avoided.
Now, this is nonsense - I’ve even written about how important your story bible is, especially for series. But there was a little opinion in my head telling me I should just be writing the novel, not wasting time faffing about the edges making decisions on what plant to include near the desert. I’m a very impatient person, and I wanted the book done now now now. I wanted to be selling it already, and moving onto the next ones. I have way too many ideas, and not enough brains to channel them.
But there are no shortcuts, here. So - no Nano for me this year, not even to try out my snazzy new notion (though I will be trying it, once my planning’s done. Just not in Nano.). But for anyone else who tends to write their first drafts in ‘story shorthand’ - try aiming for scenes instead of numbers, and see how well those goals work for you.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
I have boxed the in-trays, the stationary drawer, the four-dozen recycled-from-school-and-uni notebooks and the miscellanious things I found that filled holes in boxes. I have booked moving people who keep sending me SMSes asking if I want more boxes or people to pack for me, sorted all of my craft supplies into plastic stacking tubs, found and packed my albums, old school year books, photos of exes and friends and other old memories and I'm living out of a suitcase while the rest of my wardrobe cowers behind my books.
Oh, yes, I finally emptied the bookshelves:
Ignoring the pile of tubs down the front and the half-pile of plastic folders halfway down, that's 3 meters by 1 meter of book piles, most of which are over 1 meter high. The books in the bookshelf above are, unfortunately, not mine. But yes, they're about two to three books deep. So it's not my fault; I was born this way.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
On Friday, I took the Emerging Writer's Festival masterclass on Business for Writers. They covered everything from tax, business legals and invoicing to time and project management to social media, marketing and promotion in six pretty grueling hours (some great key points of which have been summarised by E. Markham over here.)
It was probably the best workshop / class I've ever taken. While a lot of the business and money side was stuff I realised I already knew from Uni, (and it reinforced my conviction that nobody can "teach" you social media, other than the two rules of Don't Be An Arse, and It's Not All About You) there was some really great discussion and tips on marketing and managing things - especially time.
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
I have a book that became a trilogy that became a series. Or a trilogy-of-trilogies. Though probably more a series, because I'll be switching protagonists. All of which is difficult and perhaps a little laughable, given I haven't actually written the first one yet. (Well, not a lot of it. I've had to pause to reinvent some world that I hadn't painted in because I didn't think I'd be using that bit. But I digress). Though if J. K. can have seven books in her head before her train reaches the station and she's penned a word, I don't see why I can't have nine before I've finished writing the first.
The thing is, the plotlines of a book, a trilogy and a series are different. Or not different per se - they still follow the same principles. The difficulty is in the layers. (Obligatory Shrek reference here.) Plot are like onions. Or like onions would be if they grew with layers twisted over on themselves so that the outside layer was also the third layer from the center, and if you peeled it then you'd also peel all the other layers because they were all connected, and if you dye one green, another one goes purple. So not really like onions. But I'll explain:
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
"Process" is sadly a much-abused word. Typically, by people who are more interested in seeming artistic than actually creating art, who presume that the more wacky and incomprehensible demands one makes in the name of one's "process", the more arteeeeestic one is seen to be. They insist on writing only on the top half of the left side of a leather-bound hand-stitched notepad with a MontBlanc dip-style fountain pen, the ink of which they have carefully blended with gold dust, saffron and probably the blood of a unicorn. Or something like that.
I'm not talking about that kind of Process, here. I mean the lower-case kind. How do you build a story? Where do you start, what comes to you first (usually)? How do you tease that idea out, build conflict, build an arc, some change, a premise? Do you block things out in scenes, write a whole lot of creative-plop that you then shape, work backwards, jump all over the place?
Look back at how you've created things in the past. Stories you've written. What are the common things you have done that have worked for you? What are the things that didn't work?
The point here is not to be prescriptive - ironing out a method that must be adhered to is unlikely to be helpful. Art is unpredictable, and flexibility is a must, even with the way that you work. But it's beneficial to be able to recognise things that often help you, steps you may forget you need, things that generally lead you down a goose chase or actually help procrastinate.
So - how do you write a story?
Monday, 16 May 2011
My mother's recent guest-post (which I gleefully titled “A Writing Bucket Of Your Very Own”) made a strong case for keeping all the snippets of ideas, the writing games and exercises and half-finished stories. And not only keeping them, but keeping them in a place where you can easily get to them and reread them. They need to be things that can be found.
If you're a pen-and-paper type person, then what you really need is a physical bucket (or ten) and a fast-and-loose categorising system. One that puts things into general piles so you know where to start looking for something, but doesn't crimp the edges of your creativity. Filing by genre, general theme, mood, common 'things' or even length or snippet 'type' (writing game, idea, half-baked story) could all work (though not all at once).
If your writing have moved into the digital realm*, then there are literally thousands of software packages that can help you. Finding one that works the way you want to work is the trick. I'm going to break them down into broad categories with some examples of each.
*If you're half-and-half, then make a decision already. Storing things arbitrarily in two places is just a way of creatively losing your work. Either transcribe it all to computer, or print it all out and get a bigger bucket.
Tuesday, 08 February 2011
This year I've been involved in a several group-base projects. Rather than writing groups, where individuals come together with their own personal projects, I'm talking about groups where individuals work together on a single project. Some of these groups have worked brilliantly, others have been a shambles of who's-doing-what-when-and-where's-the-bit-I'm-supposed-to-be-doing?
During uni, and even more so this year, I have learned that rules apply to Working With Groups, whether it just be a group of staff members working together in an office, a pair of novelists collaborating, or a group of people working on a product. A lot of these are perhaps obvious to people who've worked in teams their whole career, but I still find myself winding up in groups who don't understand these basic means of functioning.
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Nano update: How're you going? Life has well and truly gotten itself in the way for me. Though I have managed to keep noodling along, I'm far behind where I planned to be - my catch-up week didn't really happen, I was too busy being ill and chasing other things up, and with seven days to write 35,000 words, I'm no longer fussed about the deadline. I can write eight thousand words in a day. I've done so before - the last novel I finished I wrote the last two chapters in a flurry of 9000 words in one day. But it took me most of the day to do it, and I have things like work to attend, exams to write, games stories to plan and lectures to prepare.
I don't consider it as 'failing' Nano, though - and if you're in a similar boat to me, neither should you. The only thing that matters are the words you did write, not the ones you didn't. The important thing is what you have achieved through Nano. Personally, I've filled in the blanks at the beginning of my novel, and worked out what on earth's happening in the first half of the dreaded middle section - to me, that's a pretty solid achievement, I'm happy with that. My goal for the rest of November is to have written those scenes that I've planned out, and plan out the second half of the middle.
Writing tools and tips from other people
I've been sent two LifeHacker posts about writing. One of them's their usual collection of "Top X Blanks, as suggested by our readers", in this case, the Blank being low-distraction writing software. Personally, it's not the software itself that I tend to be distracted with - it's all the other things I could be doing with my computer, or the things on my desk, or in another room, etc. But others may find the ability to fiddle with character profiles or whatever worse than a man with a treetrimmer next door.
Their other article - 10 tips for better writing - I have some disagreements with. First and foremost that it should more aptly be named "10 rather randomly selected suggestions that might work for some people written as if they'll work for everyone". If you're including scheduling, planning, grammar, journalling, motivation and research in the one list, then either you've no idea about your subject matter, or you were really in a hurry.
They do have some good notions - their suggestions for motivation, reading widely, journalling your progress and recognising your own errors is sound advice - although probably more useful if taken a step further than they did. Knowing what mistakes you often make in story and character will save you far more work than common spelling mistakes.
But Numbers 1 and 2 especially I think is a matter of personal taste and opinion. When I'm stuck, I find the best thing is to just write the next bit any old how, in any direction. It usually ends up being not where I wanted to go, but in the process of discovering that, I figure out where I do want to go, and usually some other ideas as well. If I waited until I had it all planned out, all the fun would be gone. I'd know how the story ended. And the key of a real story is in the details, the little twists and turns that you can only discover as you're writing the thing, not planning it. So sure, outline things if you want to, but don't feel that you have to.
As for scheduling, I've never been able to keep a writing schedule. Possibly because my life has never had a regular schedule, but I'm just not a schedule person. If I write down that I'm going to do something at 9am, and something else at 3, you can bet I'll be trying to do them both together at 5pm. Or possibly tomorrow. The closest I can get is to make a list of things to do in the order I'm going to do them, and then I'll stick to it 90% of the time. Well, maybe 75.
I find my best writing times are the times I didn't expect to be writing. When my doctor's appointment's been moved half an hour, or the service guys are going to take an extra hour on my car - whip out my laptop and write. So I find their rule of "you mustn't write outside your scheduled time" to be ludicrous and unrealistic. Life does not run to a schedule, and life is what you have to fit around when you're trying to write. It's hard enough as it is without handing yourself a golden excuse of "oops, I missed my writing time, oh well, no writing for me today". Pah. By all means, make yourself a schedule if you're a schedule person. But don't ever tell yourself that you're not allowed to write. Unless, of course, you're doing so for reverse psychology - that can actually work. But preventing yourself from salvaging otherwise-wasted moments for writing time is not doing yourself any favours.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
There's a large and lengthy project that I'm working on that's not of my own devising. It's paying the bills, but it is, frankly, one of the most tedious things I've ever had to do.
I'm not someone who manages well with enforced tedium. In retail, back in the old days, the boredom didn't bother me overly as my mind was free to imagine and create in my head, and nobody really minded if I jotted down the odd idea or jewellery sketch on the back of the used-up receipt paper. But when the tedium requires just enough of my brainpower that I can't zone out like that, I'm not exactly Happycat.
It was getting to a critical stage - the tedium of this neverending project (and I'm not exaggerating, it's a project that will continue until somebody goes out of business) was driving me absolutely positively bonkers, and I was counting down the days until I could graciously bow out of the project altogether, trading money for some retention of sanity. And then...
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
While I posted a while ago about the importance of keeping track of your worldbuilding in a sensible way, I confess I've been doing exactly the opposite here - just posting and trusting to my brain to remember things. However, the steady stream of 5am starts and long days this semester has rather diminished my ability to remember what the hell I'm talking about at any one time, so I thought it'd be a good idea to actually map out what I've been doing...
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
I'd like to try an experiment - building a world here, adding a new (hopefully interconnected) piece each week. I don't have a story in mind - that's sort of the point, seeing what emerges just from the creation of the world itself. At some point this is going to need a name, but that feels rather premature for the moment. It is, however, getting to the stage where it's rather silly to link posts individually, so I'm just going to link to the tag lookup result here.
I'm making fairly random decisions as I go about what to create and which way to take the world. That's part of the process, for me - just riding along, following the trail of each piece I create, being inspired by the previous ideas to build the next. That doesn't mean anything I decide is iron-cast - a better, more suitable or more interesting idea may well (and probably will) supercede it along the way. The important thing is to keep a hold of which things each decision influences, so I know that areas I need to rethink, should I change an idea.
Wednesday, 08 September 2010
As a significant project draws to a close, I'm looking at my work flow - that is, the way my work flows from my desk and onto the floor. There are a lot of areas that are (in theory) for a specific purpose, but inevitable end up supporting my filing piling system for life, especially when I start looking for something in a hurry.
I've been thinking about how I can organise things so that this somehow doesn't happen. My desk doesn't take on the role of filing cabinet, temporary wardrobe, pantry, inbox, outbox, workspace and library all at once.
Monday, 14 June 2010