Saturday, November 17, 2012

49th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last month and wrote an overview of it for that next check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.

In a recent Check-In I implemented a NEW GOAL:  before heading to bed, close all aps but the one I've chosen for free writing and when the time slated for that is up segue directly to working with the fiction files.

I established it after digesting the info in Duhigg's The Power of Habit and have followed through since the Sunday before November 1st now. See the nice new strings of Ys in the two relevant columns?

View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list

In the last two weeks I've had multiple encounters with the principle that clarity isn't arrived at through thought alone but via action--engagement in the non-abstract realm with the minutia, manipulation of the materials, or in other words 'just doing it.'

After all you can't learn to cook by reading recipes, nor experience swimming by memorizing the atomic structure of H2O, nor can you teach a child to dress themselves by reading a how-to manual to them and drilling them on the steps before allowing them to pick up the clothing and stick their head, arm or foot through a hole.

In yesterday's Friday Foray's in Fiction post I shared the video in which the principle was spelled out and how it had played out for me once with a crochet task and once with a writing task in the days previous to encountering the video and then discussed how I might need to apply it to the issue I have with so many of my stories set in the Fruits of the Spirit storyworld stalling out either after the opening scenes or near the half-way point because I've lost my sense of knowing where it is going.

With dozens of characters and more than half a dozen generations covering 120 years I'm constantly fretting about writing myself into a corner in one story that will make another story I've planned impossible or committing silly errors of time and place.  To alleviate this fear I spend a lot of time inputing and manipulating data into timelines, character rosters, family trees, maps, floor plans, and plot arcs, making mind maps, writing character sketches and monologues, and lists of scenes. When I talk about fiction file fiddling this is what I mean in part tho it can include writing scenes or reworking rough drafts as well.

Now this all qualifies as manipulating the minutia etc. and quite often some of my favorite scenes have been written after I've been fiddling in my fiction files like this but on the other hand none of those scenes have ever broken loose the jam keeping a story stalled they tend to be something new that doesn't fit in any of the already existing stories but is in the same storyworld and features one or more of the characters from one or more of the existing stories.

This is how I've ended up with over a dozen WIP in this one storyworld ranging in anticipated length from vignette to fat novel.

I've twisted my thoughts like a pretzel trying to figure out how best to apply the clarity principle to this issue. I don't think the answer is to limit the work in the timeline, family trees and character rosters etc as that is the womb that gestates the stories.  Nor do I think it would help to forbid beginning new things until other things are finished as that would be dissing the muse.  But I do think that I need to stop avoiding the stalled out stories while waiting for the solution to their problems to come to me or even by working their problems like algebra equations in my head for weeks, months and years.

I'm going to be putting more thought into this between now and the beginning of the next round but I believe my plan will involve some sort of intense focus on one of those stalled stories at a time for a set period whether that is one story per week or per month or per round I don't know.

Do you have a method for getting stalled stories moving again?

0 tell me a story:

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