Quick Question Over Coffee

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I’m current focusing most of my creative writing efforts on a single novel, but my creative energy keeps pushing me to jump around to different ideas.  I’ve always read that I should simply jot down a few notes when new ideas pop up but remain focused on one project until completion.

I recently took a week break from my novel so I could dive deep in a short story I wrote for a contest.  Maintaining focus was easier, probably due to the short timeframe, but it may not be indicative of how I function best on more expansive works.

How do you work best?  Fitting your own style into a three answer poll isn’t always inclusive enough, so if you would like to expand your answer, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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The Entries Are In…

and the waiting begins.

AgainstTheCurrent

Judging for the Summer Writing Contest from The Write Practice and Short Fiction Break  has begun.  Our entries were due over a week ago and earlier this week the authors who chose to have their stories published are now available for your reading pleasure here.

This season’s theme is “Redemption” and the stories are limited to 1,500 words.  All entries are workshopped with the other authors for a week before the final versions are submitted for judging.  I received nothing but constructive and supportive feedback and had the opportunity to return the favor to other authors.  The contests are seasonal if you are interested and I posted more about them here.

You can link directly to my short story by clicking the book cover above or through this link – Against the Current.  I would love to hear what you think about my entry whether good or bad as any criticism can only serve to help me improve my future writing.  If you have time to read an add a comment below, I would greatly appreciate it.

I hope to meet you in one of the future writing contest workshops.  Thank you for reading and, just by reaching the end of this post, thank you for supporting my writing.  I make every effort to visit the sites of anyone who comments and perhaps I can return the favor.

Finding Story in Setting

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When I needed to come up an idea for this summer’s short story contest I struggled to find a redemption story I wanted to tell.  I thought first about choices that needed redemption.  Next I thought about characters—who they were, what choices they made and what situations they found themselves in that required redemption.  Both were fine but not the “Wow!” story I wanted.

Finally I thought of setting.  One came to mind that would have lots of action and I could picture vividly.  I knew the smells, the sights and the sounds.  In my mind I wandered around my setting searching for my characters and their story I could tell.

Guess what?  I found both of them, or maybe they found me.

The antagonist found me first, probably because he would have the most interactions with everyone else in this setting.

Other character’s started to introduce themselves and their stories to me.  Then we worked together to find some action and discovers their disasters.  I threw a few rocks at them to see how they reacted.  They brushed off some like they were nothing.  They didn’t respond the way I was hoping to others.  I tossed a few more and together we found the right balance in character and action to bring a story I wanted to tell alive.

Fore me, these contests require a different creative process because my ideas need to conform to a preselected topic.  Typically I come up with ideas, write down the ones I like and develop the ones I love.  But in this situation, as with most contests and many freelance assignments, I’m forced myself to come up with something creative within the set guidelines.  That is where the ability to apply any new ways of approach idea generation can be a godsend.

Where do you get ideas when they need to conform to specific parameters?  I’m interested in what methods work for you, especially when you are under a deadline.

Summer Writing Contest

The Summer Writing Contest from The Write Practice and Short Fiction Break is finally here!  This contest’s theme is “Redemption” and the deadline to enter is July 10th.  You can link to all the information about the contest including the signup page here.

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This will be the third time I have entered this contest series and I keep coming back for two great reasons.

First, all entrants are required to workshop their stories for a week with the other contestants.  Not only do you get great feedback from fellow writers but you also get a chance to read some great stories and see how the authors incorporate the feedback they receive.

Second, for a slightly higher entry fee, you have the option to receive written feedback directly from the judges after the winners are announced.  In the past, I received supportive and constructive feedback from two judges, so I would expect this to continue with this season’s contest as well.

If you can dream up an idea that fits the theme and have the time to pump out a 1,500 word short story in the next week, I highly recommend signing up.

I hope to see you in the workshop!

Weekly Status: June 8, 2018

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week (maybe a couple of days late!)  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from my updates some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

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Writing

Blogging

As a result of the progress I was making on my fiction writing, I made the conscious decision to let the novel flow without interruption from other projects this week.  I started two posts when I needed a break from the novel, so they are queued up for posting soon.  I also spent my downtime this week brainstorming other post ideas to alleviate some of the rush to get my five weekly posts published.  

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I found my flow getting back into the novel I had started re-outlining.  I’ve tried being a pantster, an outliner, a Snowflaker, and a Story Gridder.  After following the Story Grid podcast and reading the book I desperately wanted to follow the Story Grid method, but for me Story Grid alone is not enough.  I discovered that I am a Snowflaker at heart.  The flow of the steps draws out and helps me clarify and strengthen my ideas.  Everything I learned from Story Grid is impacting how I approach each step in the Snowflake Method.  As I get into and complete my first draft, I am certain Story Grid will be a well worn tool to get me to the final draft.  This week I probably hit at least eight hows of dedicated work on my novel, therefore to keep momentum I’m bumping up my target by 3 hours.

The second writing project I haver this week is to come up with an idea for the Write Practice and Short Fiction Break’s summer writing contest.  The entry deadline is July 10th with the first draft due for workshopping on the 16th, so I’ve got to get working.

Next week’s target:  6 hours working through the Snowflake Method

Photography

Again, I didn’t spend any time on photography this week.  I’ll keep it on the list in case I jump into it in my spare time.  The quick tutorials are great for filling a waiting minute.

Next week’s target:  Playing around for as much time as I want

Coding

I realized my data storage method was not working so I began investigating the best approach for data structures that are more complex than used in most Swift tutorials.  My goal this week is to determine the best method and outline a plan to implement the method into my project.

Next week’s target:  Develop and Outline new data structure

Videography

Focus on my novel too precedence this week so I was not able to map out the project in Motion based on the current draft of the script.  I’m putting this on the side burner for now to keep pace on my novel.

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project using placeholders.

When juggling multiple projects do you feel guilty neglecting one for another?  Does positive momentum in one project build your overall confidence?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Weekly Status: June 29, 2018

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Photo by vedanti on Pexels.com

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week.  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from my updates some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

Writing

Blogging

I think lowering my target posts by one took a bit of pressure off me this week although I struggled a bit to get my fifth post in, probably because I had a false sense of ease to accomplish my goal.  I know five posts per week fits well into my work, home and creativity schedule, I know now that I cannot take the effort I need to put forth in my posts for granted.  

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I spent quite a bit of time this past weekend working on my novel.  I set aside a few specific times to work on my writing and committed to writing, outlining, or thinking about writing while avoiding doing absolutely anything else.  I did some of the writing outside and when I had that urge to check my e-mail or jump over to a browser, I held myself back and just stared at the trees and clouds until I could refocus on writing.  I am now working on setting aside more time during the week to work on my novel and other writing projects.

Next week’s target:  3 hours brainstorming and outlining

Photography

No photography work again this week, but at least I don’t feel guilty for leaving this out.  Maybe I’ll have time and an urge to play around in the next few days.

Next week’s target:  Playing around for for as much time as I want

Coding

I completed the rework of one my main views to a static view, at least everything that was in the dynamic view.  This week I will be working on adding even more components to the project in this view.  My plans are getting a bit complex but the good part for me is that each piece can be segmented into smaller chunks.  Not only does this makes it easier to work on but as I complete each segment I am rewarded with the satisfaction of making real progress.

Next week’s target:  Complete three more sections in the static tableview

Videography

Although I’ve completed the script I have not jumped back into the Motion project yet.  I expect to spend time this week mapping out the project with placeholders to see how the flow works.  This will also provide some basic Motion practice since I am still quite the novice and it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done anything in motion.

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project using placeholders.

Have you started any new creative projects?  How are you fitting these in to your likely already packed life?

Character Assassination

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I still subscribe to and read the very first writing newsletter I discovered when starting my fiction writing journey.  Randy Ingermanson’s Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine had an interesting article this month about Ad Hominem Attacks on Your Protagonist.  You may be more familiar with the term character assassination which is a type of ad hominem attack.

Randy defines ad hominem attacks and provides an number of examples to provide a clear context.  He also make a strong case for adding this type of obstacle to your own writing toolbox.

You can find a link to the June 2018 e-zine here.

If you haven’t heard of Randy, The Snowflake Method or advancedfictionwriting,com I encourage you to give this month’s e-zine a look and when you’re done explore the rest of his site.  He has a vast amount of material for any fiction writer.

If you’ve heard of the Snowflake Method, have you used it in your writing?  Was it useful or not?

Creativity, It’s Own Reward

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The time has come to rethink rewards.  As humans we reward ourselves for good behavior, such as a successful achievement.   We also reward ourselves for avoiding bad behavior, like not biting our nails.

Many of us use rewards to play internal games to get through the stuff we really don’t want to do. “If I do the dishes right after dinner, then I can watch an extra hour of Netflix without feeling guilty!”  Or, “If I finish the yard work, I can spend the afternoon on the deck with a couple beers!”

This system often focuses on rewarding the wrong part behavior or not using rewards we truly covet.

We love our creative pursuits, so why do we feel a need to reward ourselves for accomplishing small parts of our projects or completing them?  Why isn’t the end result enough of a reward in itself?

Why isn’t the end result enough

of a reward in itself?

The answer here is “work”.  We are not rewarding the success of reaching a milestone.  We are rewarding the end of hard work.  If it was hard work to polish off a dozen red velvet cupcakes, you can bet we’d be finding a way to reward ourselves for such a feat.

We need to change our mindsets.  We can continue to reward the hard work, but why not choose a different reward.  Instead of picking something fleeting like a sweet treat or streaming videos, give yourself uninterrupted and guiltless time for something you love.  Hell, let’s reward any achievement with more time for creativity.  “Wow, I just finished binge-watching this Netflix series, I’m going to reward myself with an hour of writing!”

Let’s admit to ourselves that creativity should be our reward in the mess of both responsibilities and leisure activities in our lives.  Our passions should be the rewards for which we strive.  Sure the work is hard, but we aren’t seeking the “phew that’s over feeling.”  We crave the “Wow, I’m proud of what I created” euphoria.

“Wow, I’m proud of what I created”

We should reward hard word while at the same time the reward should be something we love.  Choosing rewards is as important as choosing what efforts to reward.

So, for the hard work of finishing this post I’m rewarding myself with a half dozen donuts, and the hard work of devouring these sweet treats will be rewarded with more time for writing.

Are you rewarding the achievements or the efforts?  Do you ever use more creative time as a reward?  What do you think of rewarding yourself with more time for creativity?

Heartstrings

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The rescue was full save one cage.  Empty soft bed, food partially eaten. The one gone tugged at her heartstring, tied in knots for days, weeks even years.  The knot would never go away, but, with time it would blossom into a bow where it would remain with the others for eternity.  Her heart was full, yet always room for more.  Infinite heartstring for infinite love she held for those that had crossed the bridge.  Never forgotten by her.  Never.  They are her loves, her joys, her mission.  She was their savior, their advocate, their last chance, their home.

All cages are full again. So many to save.  So much love to give. Infinite.

 

 

Don’t Think, Just Write!

So, I’m beginning to be quite a fanboy of The Art of Blogging. This article has seven great suggestions for getting down to writing, but one stuck out as particularly helpful.

The quote by Raymond Chandler in the seventh suggestion hits home regarding the importance of making the time set aside to write FOR WRITING!

I have a few hours today to give this a go. First I’ll turn off my Wifi. Since I use Scrivener, I can shut out all the other apps on my computer. I’ll get my coffee ready, leave my phone and iPad in another room and get down to work.

If I’m not writing, outlining, drafting character descriptions or anything specific to moving the project forward, then I’ll probably just stare at the wall (I’m not sure my balance is good enough to stand on my head).

Hopefully some of these suggestions can make your writing time more productive, too.