Breakthroughs and The Beatles

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

I’ve been revamping my MuseCraft™ website, getting ready to offer some new classes and coaching options. And I really got hung up on the “about” page. I’ve been trying to write it for over a week, and I had little phrases and half thoughts and not much else to show. So yesterday I took my notes and my laptop to my writing group to work on it some more, and I was not doing any better than I had been on my own. And then a new CD came on. The Beatles. I didn’t notice it until halfway through the CD and most of the way through actual, coherent and cohesive copy, but my focus just dialed in as soon as that music came on.

I usually write with the TV on. Reruns of things I like or movies I love, things I’m really familiar with–never anything new that I want to watch. Something about the TV playing usually helps me write (except in the case of that “about” page, but everyone knows those things are special and troublesome). Usually, music distracts me, because if a song I like comes on my attention is immediately drawn to the song and away from my writing, and instrumental music doesn’t offer enough of a distraction to my internal editor to let the writing flow.

Maybe because the Beatles songs are so familiar they get my editor singing along (internally–I promise I didn’t inflict my singing on anyone!) so the writing can progress unimpeded. Whatever it was, I’m planning to get that album and add it to my playlists for when I need a little more focus.

I hope everyone else is making progress and having some breakthroughs, too!

ROW80 Goals–Round 3

I can’t believe we’re already heading into Round 3. We’re also fully into summer. School ended last week, and I have weeks stretched out in front of me needing to be filled. I’m limping along, trying to get some summer work, and if I’m not careful I’ll paralze myself with shoulds and wishes and end the summer stressed out and with nothing to show for the time spent.

Summer used to be one of my favorite times of year, second only to fall. It was my time to reset and reinvent myself. I always filled my summers with goals for exercise and better eating and writing and projects. And it kept me engaged and in motion, and I need that right now. Substitute teaching has ended, I don’t have solid summer work, and I don’t know if I’ll have a teaching job in the fall or if I’ll have to move on to some other work. This all feels like things that are out of my control, so I need a few things that are in my control.

I’ve been feeling pulled to return to my coaching work. I love working with writers and creatives and helping them move forward and keep moving toward their goals. I put it on hold when I moved to a new house and then immediately heard that my office was closing and decided to renew my teaching license and jump into substituting. All of that has kept me busy, but I really miss doing the coaching work and teaching creative writing and doing all of that fun stuff.

So my goals for Round 3 are going to be a combination getting MuseCraft up and running again and continuing with my personal writing practice.  I need to make sure the foundation for MC is sturdy and then start building up the blog and some offerings (see, just like that picture up there–a foundation and then one thing and then the next stacked up).  And I need to keep doing writing practice because my brain and my heart both need that, plus my writing is better when I practice.

Round 3 Goals

  • Write copy for a new landing page
  • Write new “about” copy
  • Work on essays for the new non-fiction book that has bloomed in my mind; get at least five of them done this round
  • After the landing and about pages are done, start blog posts at least once a week
  • Continue writing practice at least three times a week

Time Stretches

I thought I’d do a blog post to check-in since it’s been a while. I thought I’d be taking a break for a week, maybe two, but time has pulled away from me, and even though it’s a month later I find I still need the downtime.

I’m in the midst of trying to find summer work and looking for full-time work for the fall. Writing is haphazard and solely focused on writing practice right now. I am still in Lull mode, resting, trying to do what I need to do. Reminding myself that I will have more writing time after I take care of the employment stuff and get all of that sorted. For now, writing practice and resting will do.

Rest and Relaxation

Quote

After last week’s epiphany, a few more story details clicked into place pretty much effortlessly. And now I find myself in resting mode, thinking, letting story ideas play in my head, just sitting back and watching them.

In Kaizen Muse Creativity Coaching we talk about Lull, one of the Muses. She’s very important for letting things brew and settle and reset. I am visiting with Lull this week. It’s a pretty good place to be right now.

 

Two Steps Forward

Hoping to skip any steps back… I finally had an epiphany yesterday that had me moving scenes around and adding new ones that made sense after the shuffle, and now there are fewer holes in my plot. I still have a gap that I am working to fill in, but it’s much smaller, and it’s just the one instead of three spots that really weren’t working. Definite progress!

I credit this jump forward to being able to see all of my scenes laid out in Storyline Creator (I’m really loving this tool!) and to this blog post from K. M. Weiland. I spent days reading over my scene descriptions and reading various articles and sections of writing books, and then the sun broke through the clouds and I could see my way. Hooray!

Wishing everyone a great writing week and breakthroughs where you need them!

Quick ROW80 Check-in

I’m still moseying along in my plotting for “Haunt.” I’m trying to work through things logically rather than getting hung up on setting and meeting a deadline right now. I keep having to remind myself that I’m trying to really learn these novel planning steps, though. I want to race! But that’s not the way to cement my understanding of how all of these steps work together. I have a few more scenes listed with their basic summary sentences, so there is progress.

I’m really enjoying working with Storyline Creator in this process. I like how easy it is to move back and forth between the sections so if I have a thought about a scene (mostly right now it’s “what needs to happen before this to make this make sense?”), I can just switch over to the notes section and write out my ideas and questions, and then shift right back to the scenes list. It’s very smooth, very simple, and it makes sense to me when I look at it. I’m very glad I found this.

I hope everyone’s stories are moving forward, slowly or otherwise. Happy writing!

Progress

This week, I’ve been working on scene lists.  It’s kind of a slow process involving examining what I’ve already written, rearranging things, setting some things aside, and lots of brainstorming and daydreaming about what the story needs.

I can tell that doing this slowly is working, and yet it’s still hard not to just jump in and start writing full steam ahead and see what comes out. I keep having to remind myself that I already have a draft of this story that I did that way, and it doesn’t work. This story, because of how I set it up, needs more planning. I need to know where I’m going before I head out.

I think the pressure to hurry up and write is because I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. And of course the point of all the NaNos is to get words down. But I don’t want to get stuck in the same trap. I don’t want the last two thirds of my story to be just one haunted scene after another with no escalating conflict and no real reason why they ended up where they did at the end to have the final confrontation.

Oh, I did find a new tool to try out. I was wishing for a web-based Scrivener, so I went looking for alternatives. I found something called Storyline Creator. I just found it last night, so I spent some time moving my scene list over, and this morning I’ve added a few more scenes after a breakthrough last night. So far, I really like it. It’s a bit simpler than Scrivener, which for me is actually a plus. The only thing I’m wishing for is the ability to add images to character files (I think I’ll email them with the suggestion just in case they just hadn’t thought of it). That’s fairly minor, though, because you can add images to notes, so I’ve just been making notes for each of my major characters.

My goal for this week: finish the scene list (at least with the five major scenes and a few connector scenes) and start my one page summary.

Goals!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

The break went really fast! The new round of ROW80 started Monday, but I haven’t even put up my goals yet. So here they are.

I realized last round that there was a lot missing from my story. I’ve spent time finding where the holes are (my midpoint is nonexistant!). This round my goal is to complete a Snowflake Method outline for the story. I’m going to be using some tips and tricks from Holly Lisle, too, so I can get it worked out and ready for a rewrite that will, hopefully, actually work.

I’m also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I set myself a goal of 20,000 words. I’m barely started on that, but as I get to the longer sections of the snowflake I think I’ll probably get to that. We’ll see. Mostly I’m participating because I like having a goal to aim for and someplace to share word counts.

So that’s it. Goals, ready and waiting for me to get them done. See you Sunday for an update. writ

Going Camping

Somewhere in the midst of trying to do revisions, I realized my best choice is to do a second draft of my story. So I’m jumping in on Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

I’ve signed up a few times and even set up a project once, but I’ve never been part of a cabin, so I feel like I haven’t really done Camp. This time, though, my local writing group is having a cabin, and I’m going to be doing this with them. I think that’s going to make it a lot more fun.

So far, I have ideas for a few new scenes, and right now I’m working on making scene cards and fleshing out ideas for some of the scenes I want to keep that feel too scant. The rest of March will be for planning out the rewrite, then on April 1 I’ll start Draft 2. I

I’m aiming for 20,000 words for Camp, which should be pretty easy. I’ll probably be sticking with my usual method of writing 4 or 5 days a week rather than every day. The every day experiment was interesting, but it’s not by best way to work.  So, writing more days than not, nice easy goals. That should about cover it. Where are the marshmallows? I think I’m ready for camp!

 

Creative Cleaning

 

A shelf in my favorite bookcase, clear and waiting for me. My grandfather made this bookcase for my mother around the time I was born, and it has always been my space for my special and favorite books and things.

Cleaning has never been my forte. I avoid it. I ignore the need until things are so awful that I have to clean just to find my stuff. I may be changing my mind.

This past week, I participated in a Get Back to Creating challenge led by Jen Louden. Each of us picked a project to focus on for the week. Before we began, I thought I would work on my revisions or perhaps on a short story I have hanging around. Day One came along, and I found myself writing that I was going to work on organizing my studio. That wasn’t even what I meant to say! But I guess it was. The clutter and boxes still unpacked after two years and general chaos have been bringing me down more and more.

I wanted to back out after the first day, change my mind, quit the challenge. But Jen said to work on the same project. And it was for such a short amount of time! I was only doing one little section of the space each day. So I did it again. And again. And at the end of Day Five, Friday, there was a noticeable clear space. And yesterday and today I found myself doing a little bit more. And today, there’s even more noticeable clear space.

So what does this have to do with creativity and writing? Everything. By Thursday I was flooded with new ideas for my novel. On Friday, sitting in a 7th grade band class, I dreamed up an entire embroidery series in my head, and it was vivid and complete enough that I was able to write it down after class, and I’ve started working on the design. Today while I was emptying a box, an entire scene that really belongs in my novel popped into my head.

Does this mean clean space is required for creating? No. My space is far from clean. But it is getting cleaner and more organized. I think having spaces you’re comfortable in while working are important. But I think doing something physical also stirs the mind, especially in this instance where I was surrounded by my creative toys and supplies and touching them and moving them around. I also think that taking the next small step you can see and doing your best not to try to see what might come later lets things unfold and open up whereas trying to force yourself to figure out what’s going to happen further out closes things off. It’s too much pressure. The slow, small steps? No pressure.

I still don’t like cleaning. I haven’t changed my mind about that. But I’ve changed my mind about wanting to do it. I hope I can keep this going and move through my house and my novel creating things just how I want them. But for right now, at least I have one completely clean shelf waiting to be exactly what I want it to be.