Rest and Relaxation

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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.

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.

Slowing Down

I am really enjoying reading Sandra Scofield’s The Last Draft. It feels positive and warm and makes me think I can really do this thing. And it led me to a lightbulb moment. While reading, I realized that I am always trying to rush through the new things I try. I try to grab the highlights and put them to use because I feel like I don’t have time to take things slowly and do them thoroughly.

This is something I’ve known, at least semi-consciously. But today for some reason it became clear and was suddenly right in my face. I need to slow down. I need to do this work with attention and awareness and no rushing. I need to do it like a nice slow stretch in the morning. I need to commit.

So, new goals for the next while. I’m going to actually do the exercises–all of the exercises–in The Last Draft. A little at a time. Actually writing them down in my novel notebook. I’m going to do this as fully as I can and see what I can do for my story. No more rushing. No more feeling like I don’t have enough time–all of these time limits and constraints are things I’ve put on myself. I will take the time it needs. I will see the experiment through to the end. Then I will take the parts that work best for me and move forward. But first I’m going to try all the parts.

Learning Curve

I am discovering that revision of a long piece is an entirely different creature than revising a short story or writing new words. And I have to give myself time to learn this and make mistakes and try again. So I’m throwing the idea of time schedules out the window for now. My goal is to work on this regularly, interspersed with days of doing writing practice so that I feel like I’m still getting writing done. Because this revision thing, while necessary for writing,does not feel to me like getting writing done.

I picked up a new book yesterday to help me learn this revision thing: The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield. My first impression is that the first section of the book, which is more than half the book, is more educational and less specific to working on a particular manuscript. Skimming through it at the bookstore I saw a lot in there that I think I can make use of, so I’m looking forward to digging in further.

That’s about it for the moment. I’m still plugging away at this revision and am determined to figure out how to do this with a long story. Looking forward to seeing what I learn from my new book–I’ll keep you posted.

Steps

Photo by Nic Low on Unsplash

I feel like I’m moving a bit. I’ve been doing a lot of writing practice and a lot of contemplating about my revisions, and I think I’m starting to see some story shapes. I still don’t quite know what I’m doing, but I don’t feel like I’m going to be stuck forever, so something must be shifting. I am going to proceed as I have been, although I’m going to make a push to read and review some of my resources this week to stir my ideas.

I’m also thinking of something possibly a little goofy. When I revise a short story, I just start retyping it. What if, when I finish marking off the scenes in the story, I just start retyping each one? I don’t know if that will make any of the deeper changes that I need, though. That might just tighten up the language and make it prettier. And while that’s not awful, that’s not all I need. Still, I’m thinking about this and wondering if it would be useful. We’ll see.

Molasses

Lately things seem to be moving slowly, and sometimes not at all. Everything seems to be having glitches and setbacks and oddities. This post, for instance…this is take three because when I add the photo it messes up the alignment and puts all of the text above the image no matter what I do.

I almost didn’t write a post to check in for ROW80. I thought about just checking in on the Facebook page, but I haven’t posted here in a bit, so I really thought I should. And way past the time when the post should have been done, I am still fighting with my layout.

Writing is mostly writing practice and reading through downloads and things from classes I’ve taken, looking at books I have, stuff like that. I’m still trying to get a feel for how to approach a novel-length revision.

This is a lot different than a short story. I can hold an entire short story in my mind. Revisions involve making notes on the printed text and then retyping the story making changes as I go. Sometimes it just involves retyping because I can’t retype without changing things.

I’m not pushing myself to work on a schedule right now. I feel like I’m in a learning phase, so I’m just moseying along. I wish I didn’t keep hitting these weird sticky spots, though. I’d love it if things would just go smoothly, thank you very much and I hope there’s someone/thing out there listening!