Weekly Status: June 29, 2018

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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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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.

Weekly Status: June 22, 2018

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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’m getting into a good rhythm with my blog posts.  Now into my 3rd week I made five more posts and have decided this is the right number that gives me enough time to complete my other responsibilities with enough time left over to work on my other interests.  Going forward I have adjusted my target to 5 posts each week.

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I worked a little more on my novel but not as much as I wanted.  I’m finding it difficult to sit down and do the work as I become distracted with other projects.  I read an interesting bit of advice about writing time this week.  (I cannot recall where or who originally said it, so if you know could you post a comment so I can give the author credit!  Edit:  I found the article I ready on The Art of Blogging.  The quote is by Raymond Chandler and included in the article Don’t Think, Just Write! by Cristian Mihai)  The gist is that during your set writing time you need to write.  If you aren’t writing you shouldn’t be doing anything else.  Period.  Your alternative to writing during this time is thinking about your writing or staring at the wall.  I’m going to give it a try this weekend.

Next week’s target:  3 hours brainstorming and outlining

Photography

I didn’t work on photography at all this week.  For now, I’m leaving this creative category as a “nice to have” and will play around with tutorials and practicing on my own photos when the impulse strikes me.

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

Coding

I began reworking one of the complex views in my project.  I originally had it as a dynamic tableview but have since determined that it should really be a static tableview and insert dynamic tableviews within certain sections of the static table view as needed.  I’m sure if you are not into coding all you probably read was “blah, blah, blah-blah, and blah!”

Next week’s target:  Complete the change to a static tableview

Videography

I completed the script for my Motion project.  The best part about writing the script rather than jumping in head first to build the project was coming up with alternative ideas on how to present the full concept.  Near the end, I originally thought the animal shelter would rise from the ground, but as I finished up the script I came up with what I think will be a better way to show the shelter moving from idea to reality.  Now comes the fun part—getting my hands dirty in Motion!

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project in Motion.

What projects are you passionate about this week?  Are you finding time and success in your creative adventures?

Reading Only Act I

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As I continue outlining the novel that I originally started as a pantster, I’ve developed a strange obsession.  I keep starting new books, only reading through the end of Act I and starting a new one.

I’m hung up on seeing how other authors are building their opening act.

  • Is the opening scene an introduction to the character or can I see bits and pieces hiding among the description and action that will be important to remember in Act II or III?
  • What is the call to action?  Is it strong enough to keep the protagonist in the game?
  • Is a mentor introduced?  How natural or forced is her relationship with the protagonist?
  • Is the point of no return really a line in the sand that the protagonist can never cross back?

So many questions and they all come back to structure!

What at first seemed like losing interest early on has turned into a writing tool.  I’ve always read that I should keep reading other author’s works while I am in the midst of writing.  On the surface I had considered reading while writing to be a distraction and feared I’d subconsciously steal ideas from the book I was reading.  This experience has opened my eyes to the real reason we should read while writing and for me it’s all about understanding structure.

Are you an avid reader when deep in writing mode?  I’ve been mixing up genres from the one I’m writing.  Do you think you should stick with your writing genre or do you think varying reading genres can offer some interesting insights into your own work?

Yearning to Learn

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Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a strong desire to learn new things.  In the past few years I have been diving deep into learning how to write a novel—structuring plot, building tension, crafting scenes and developing great characters.  Writing, whether a novel, short story or this blog, has been my creative outlet for a while now.

Lately writing alone has not been enough to fill my learning needs.  You’d think with all there is to learn about structure and style, brainstorming ideas, and sitting down to actually write would fulfill my learning needs.

Yet, I still needed something more, something different.  Setting aside any requisite skills and abilities to venture into other creative avenues, I thought about adding one of several options to my creative repertoire.

Music, Guitar?

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I’m no musician but I do love music.  I played the piano when I was young, but was never very good.

When I ventured back into piano lesson in high school, I learned to improvise the rhythm of the left hand by reading chord notation and playing the right hand as written.  This method provided me with the opportunity few of my piano playing fiends every had—to play popular music and make it somewhat recognizable to the listener.

Learning to play guitar seems somewhat similar, but it will need a dedicated regular schedule of lessons and a bit of an investment.  Guitar probably isn’t in my near future.

Drawing, Illustrations, Art?

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My dad’s mother was an artist.  She painted beautiful Michigan forest-scapes generally with a smattering of birch trees.

One day after dinner, I was probably in middle school, she taught me to draw my subject upside-down.  We pulled a Donald Duck rubber magnet off the fridge, turned Donald on his head and she had me replicate it on paper.  The result ended up to be far more accurate than had I drawn it from the correct perspective.

I have since learned that drawing a subject upside-down uses your visual right brain leaving the rational, thinking left brain that keeps telling you “that doesn’t look right” mostly out of the activity.

I need to learn more technical skills to improve my drawing abilities rather than simple practice.  I enjoy doodling, but I think I’ll leave illustrating to trained professionals.

Finding the Right Fit

These are just a couple of choices I considered, choosing two where I would likely have the best chance for success based on my interest level and limited history.  Whatever choice I made would need to fit my style and not be a burden on my other responsibilities and interests.

Although I yearn for another creative activity I feel I already have a lot going on.  If I could learn guitar using headphones, I think I’d pick up the guitar, although I’d prefer to learn acoustic.  I wouldn’t want my family suffer the sounds of my “learning”.

App Development, Coding

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I’m certainly dating myself when I tell you that I learned BASIC programming on my own using a TRS-80.  Then in sixth grade we were taught using Apple II+ and Apple IIe computers.  I still regret not taking more advanced programming courses (do you remember PASCAL and FORTRAN?) when I was in high school.

I’ve always been a math and logic based thinker which is probably why learning to code is so appealing to me.  As with other creative pursuits, I love the idea of creating something tangible from my own idea.  With coding there are loads of resources on-line, and I pretty much already have the software and equipment needed.

With the influx of apps created in basements or dorm rooms, on lunch breaks from work, by friends in bedrooms or a continent away, the flexibility checks another box on my next project evaluation list.

All that remains is coming up with that wonderful, exciting, stupendous idea.  But, isn’t that half the fun?

Choosing Your Next Undertaking

Selecting new skills and abilities to learn can be a tricky task.  In addition to showing an interest, you will need to evaluate whether you can put the time into learning that the new skills deserve.  Weighing your commitments to family, friends and work as well as those you have made to yourself for other pursuits must be done prior to embarking on such a journey.

Sometimes it can be appealing to dive right in, but your success with any new undertaking hinges on whether you can put forth the effort necessary.

I’m all for learning new things to make my own world a more interesting place.  I just want to make sure I’m not cluttering up the place with a bunch of half-baked attempts.

What new skills are you eager to learn?  Do you have any skills you started to learn then pushed them aside?  I’m interested to know what took precedence and whether you think you’ll pick them up again.

Avoiding the Inevitable End

If you are an avid ready, you know the feeling when you find a really good book and can’t put it down?  I’m always excited when I come across one of these gems.

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For some reason I have a very strange habit when I get 80% of the way through one of these—I can’t seem to keep going at the same pace.  I start to take in small chunks at a time.  Three pages now, several more pages a few hours later.  The last 20% drags on for another couple of days when I should have been able to plow through in a matter of hours.

I’ve even started the same habit when streaming series on Netflix.  As I reach the final three or four episodes I take in just enough of an episode to get a fix before switching to another activity.

I’ve finally figured out why.  Simply put, I don’t want the story to end.  I fear the feeling it will all be over soon.  I’ve fallen in love with the characters and the story so much, I begin to mourn this loss before it’s reached it’s conclusion.

On a good note, I am almost always satisfied when I finally reach the end and eagerly await more.  What else could any author want but another reader hooked on their characters, story and style.

I resign myself to the fact that I can only wait patiently for the next novel, seek out the author’s other work or hang on for the next season to start.

Do you put off the inevitable when nearing the end of a great book or television series or do you push through at the same “can’t put it down” pace?  Do you have any odd quirks or habits when it comes to finishing books and other series you enjoy?  Let me know in the comments.

Warning: This is Blocking You from Thinking Creatively

One of the most impactful lessons I learned this week can be found on The Art of Blogging. This blog offers a trove of resources that anyone can utilize to improve their blog.

This particular post, Warning: This is Blocking You from Thinking Creatively, has a number of awesome ideas to expand your own creative realm.

The two suggestions to free up my creativity that stuck out to me were thinking metaphorically (2. Logic…) and learning to break a few rules (3. Rules, rules, rules). As a logical thinker and a fairly strict rule follower, making these changes to my own creative process will take some work.

There is a lot to take in here, so I highly recommend giving it at least a couple of reads!