Saturday, January 26, 2013

64rth ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.

It was a week ago that I determined that the best place to squeeze the extra time out of my days for reading fiction-- since fiction writers must read fiction--was by putting serious limits on how long I spent prepping and writing blog posts.  My mantra became:


And just for an experiment I put a 1 hour time limit on post prep for the week just to see if I could and what I would learn by trying.

I did manage to get seven posts in a row done in under one hour but twice I had to change course after putting over half an hour in on one concept and realizing I could not complete it in less than two hours so I switched course and put up LOLcats with brief personal journal type comments instead of the book review on Wednesday and the update on the crocheted crafter's tote on Thursday.

In the course of the week I garnered enough fiction reading time for one complete 360 odd page literary novel in under three days and half of a Jan Karon novel.  Some of the extra reading time I did devote to more READ CRAFT as I'm currently reading some that are checked out of the Longview library and can't go home with me next month.

And just as I feared once I loosened the reins on fiction reading it started to run loose like a spirited horse   On the second and third day of reading that literary novel I started picking it up instead of the crochet for those odd moments of waiting--for browser pages to load, for microwave to ding, for Mom to finish lunch.  And often forgot to put it back down again.

I learned while prepping the book review on Wednesday--the one I backed off on--that I need to establish new protocols to make them quicker to prep and write.  Most important would be to write the review within a few days of finishing the book and preferably before getting my brain involved in another novel.  So ideally on the same or very next day.

Next in importance is that writing the review and all of the other prep for putting a post together are two different tasks using two very different mind modes.  Possibly three if I separate out the hunter/gather stage from the jigsaw puzzle stage.

For the hunter/gather stage I am collecting images, links, quotes and facts.  For a book review that would be cover and author image, author bio, author web page, book blurb from cover or publisher's site, quotes from reviews and maybe a book trailer video to embed.  It occurred to me that I could probably collect all of that for up to ten books in one hour if I was doing only that.

The jigsaw puzzle stage is the prepping of the post itself that entails plugging all of those elements into the template I have for book reviews.  I'm confidant I could put four or five of those together in under an hour if all of the elements are already collected.  Including plugging in the already written reviews.

Writing the review like all other writing is another story.  I've identified several things that ought to ease their production:

  • Do it relatively soon after finishing the story as I said above.  
  • Do it when I'm not feeling the pressure of getting posted--at least the rough draft.  
  • Take notes on my thoughts as I'm reading and book mark or take down names and quotes I might want.  With page numbers!  You would not believe how many partially prepped reviews I have in my note ap that are missing something crucial like that and since the books were usually library books I'd have to send for them again to retrieve the quote, page number, character's name or other fact.

So my goal for the next week--besides maintaining the Ys in the spreadsheet--is to continue the 1 hour boundary on post prep and give most of that time saved to reading fiction as I did this past week but add to that the development of those protocols.  Especially establishing good physical and electronic note taking and storage so that I am not fumbling around for the tools when the thoughts come to me nor rifling through a chaos of paper and pixels when the time comes to put the jigsaw of the post together.

Have I been clear why I see this as a ROW80 issue?  It seems obvious to me that it is all about serving the fiction writing.  First by reading more fiction and second by forcing the bloated blogging back inside reasonable boundaries so that it is also in service to the writing instead of the thing demanding to be served.

For the curious: this post did not comply with the 1 hour boundary.  *sigh*  I got kinda lost in the thoughts as I mused about the lessons learned over the week.  And then the draft of the section between the spreadsheet and the READ CRAFT went through several edits and rewrites for clarification.  I've gone over by an hour.  But I still have an hour for fiction reading if I post now--1:30am.


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 I left this book at home so I can't continue until I return in mid February but I don't want to remove it so I'll just use strikethru for now.

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last Thursday.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!

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 fall and wrote an overview of it for that 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.

2 tell me a story:

Anonymous,  1/28/2013 7:53 PM  

Hi Joy, I know what you're saying about needing to impose boundaries. Blogs and social media both suck up an incredibly large amount of time. It's great to see your reading being so enjoyable,

I hope you're able to find the perfect balance and enjoy your journey.

Shan Jeniah Burton 1/31/2013 3:24 PM  

I'm not much of a boundaries person - but, I, too, have come to see that there are things I need to change in the way I blog.

Your ideas of templates, and notetaking with page numbers...brilliant. I will be incorporating those into my blogging, too, so thanks for sharing!

It seems as though you are learning and achieving a lot this round!

Here's to much more of that. =D

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