Category Archives: creative process

Just Wasting Time

On a scale of 1-10, I’d have to say these last few days have been floating around 5.  I got most things done.  I’ve also been so very easily distract-able that most any effort I’ve made seems small in comparison to the amount of effort I’ve spent in redirecting myself to get the things done.

And…  despite what I thought on Sunday, it wasn’t squirrels.

Some of it has been good-old self-discovery and analysis.  Good things really, and part of why my pittance of accomplishment doesn’t bother me all that much (because I really fell down on my ROW80 goals since Sunday!).

Yesterday while writing my 750 words entry (ended up 2.5K WOOT!), I glanced at the accumulated art supplies around my office and wondered why I never use them; or if I do, it’s for a quick “try this”… which usually ends in disappointment because I’m an obsessive perfectionist.

Which brings me back to the title…  I have a ton of art supplies I never use, I have a ton of stories I don’t show anyone…  I say I don’t like to cook, but the truth is these things flow from a fear of waste.

Art supplies are—I was always told—expensive.  Don’t waste them.  Use scrap paper to practice on.  What’s wrong with a #2 pencil or a ballpoint pen?  You want markers?  Here’s a pack of 36 colors for a dollar.  Never mind that most don’t work…

Apologies to my writing friends who've seen these

Apologies to my writing friends who’ve seen these but this IS that one page

It took me three years before I felt comfortable enough to make my first drawing in a sketchbook I’ve got in my supply bag.  Three years…  I’ve since drawn in it twice in six months, both pictures on the same piece of paper.

I’ve sketched things on a napkin (ruined in my purse two days later) and the backs of a few pieces of junk mail (some where in the house!).  But a dedicated, special for me place to hold my art?  Not really.

Poster paints and craft paper and years of sun-damage

Poster paint, craft paper and years of sun-damage

I have a paint set I opened the box of, looked at all the pieces and then set aside when I have time to take an art class so I can learn how to use the correct brushes and such.  Then there are the stacks of unopened canvases…  Despite this excess, I only allowed myself to use 99 cent bottles of poster paint and a 59 cent set of dried water-colors on craft paper since my son was born.  It’s not that I don’t like painting.  I don’t feel qualified to do it based on my limited grade-school art experiences, and I know I’d be wasting real supplies.

A real indulgence--a (THE) Paint and Sip project I did as part of a fundraiser for my son's school

A real indulgence–a (THE) Paint and Sip project I did as part of a fundraiser for my son’s school

And given the years when I would cook something I knew was past its expiration date or badly freezer burnt because I couldn’t bear to toss it (both my parents are avid volunteers at their local food pantry; my son has asked for a food donation to give to one of our local pantries for every birthday party he’s had since he was four….  I could not throw away food).  I wouldn’t make anyone else eat it; I accepted my punishment for forgetting it in the back of the freezer or the cupboard.

I spent two weeks cooking various apple and crab apple recipes--and ended up tossing jars of work because I was the only one to eat it

I spent two weeks cooking various apple and crabbie recipes–and ended up tossing jars of work because I was the only one to eat it

For a long time, I felt I couldn’t write for the same reason.  But…  unlike painting, which I enjoy but even feels like dabbling, or cooking, which can feel fulfilling as a hobby, a creative game to play when I need to stretch myself, I needed to write stories.   If I didn’t write something, I curled up on the couch hugging my knees and muttered to myself.*

This doesn’t mean I felt my writing was good.  Only that I needed to do it.  And yes, I have noticed some improvement with the years of practice.  I’ve noticed some deterioration though too.  This is one of the reasons I’ve set myself a goal to typing in old notebooks.  I don’t know what happened, and I’d like to understand it.  But for all that crappy writing from the past, my newer stuff feels like it has lost something.

I’m trying to understand it, and a lot of other things about the person I keep becoming.  That’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to the ROW80; it gives me writing and self-study…  and so far it’s a lot cheaper than therapy.

So, my check-in for today is to add another “goal”.  Or maybe a permission…

Yes, I give myself permission to mess up something.** 

I give myself permission to ruin something.  I even give myself permission to toss things.  I accept that I cannot hold onto everything. I accept that not everything I make will be good. I will ruin things, I will make mistakes… I will make beautiful things and I will make absolute shit.

I will just do it.

*Really.  Ask some of my former roommates if you don’t believe me.

**(Yeesh… my whole body shivered as I typed those words, my fingers felt twitchy, almost numb).

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A Mind is a Terrible Thing

It does things like…  squirrel!

Squirrels even distract rabbits

Seriously though… I’m in a bit of a flump today. No ambition, no desire to “get things done”.  It could be that it is absolutely gorgeous outside and the very idea of staying in to write a ROW80 check-in irks me.

And it is gorgeous outside.

Unfortunately, it is Sunday, and that means it’s time to review my progress for the past week.  What an awesome week this has been!

I mean, look at this progress:

  • Goal: working through three chapters weekly of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure (including exercises)
  • Progress: detoured progress here in the form of three hours working on developing my antagonists.  One thing I love about all my characters is that they aren’t good or evil but just people trying to get through their lives as best they know how.  That doesn’t mean they’re all nice people; one of my main protagonists goes through half the book intent on killing another of my protagonists.  Another of my ‘big three’, goes out of her way to see her beloved mentor gets brutally murdered.  I call them my protagonists, but it’s really just a matter of perspective…  right?
  • I’ve also started reading Syd Field’s highly recommended book Screenplay, mostly because it’s a library book, and I have a time limit for that where I don’t with Bell’s book.
  • Great Link to follow: How to build a Villain by Jim Butcher
  • Goal: catching up in my local critique group (including submitting something this week)
  • Progress: group is on hold for the month of April; however, I have opened up one of the pending files in my inbox to start critiquing it
  • Goal: typing two pages a day of old notebooks in
  • Progress: on track, despite having been slightly behind Wednesday
  • Goal: (VIG) Write new words daily! (the Five Sentences thingie)
  • Progress: Most days, the words have flowed fast and furious. Averaging my daily new story words, it seems I’m getting 1,134 words of new rough (very rough) draft story.  In addition, I’ve been filling up One Note and my Notes feature on my iPhone with all sorts of cool possibilities.  New ideas are definitely not one of my writing problems.

ROW80LogocopySo, it seems like I’m finding my rhythm again, and I’m having lots of fun with my characters.  Each extra moment I’ve spent with them has presented so many precious insights.  Sometimes silly, sometimes sweet things: like knowing that ‘Listii refuses to kill doe rabbits if he knows they’re nursing young, or that Vissellii has been a wallflower (not of her choice) at every festival or society dance she’s ever been to.

Final tally…  a pretty close to perfect week.  I’m feeling it now, however.  No energy.  Absolutely none…  So before I push myself to the next step, which is to add back in one of my beloved blog hops such as WeWriWa (Weekend Writing Warriors) or the Wednesday WIPpet, I’m going to maintain this pace without added commitments.  If I’m inspired by posting time for one of the challenges and I’ve gotten all my critiques for my local group finished and posted, then sure…  I may go for it.  But these goals are my first writing priority.

And at this point, my mind is saying “Don’t even think it.”  😦

Now that you’re done here, how about you give some love to our other great ROWers.

All’s Well That…

Well, I can’t say “all ends well”.   Well is a wishy-washy word anyway.

Cafe Office

Cafe Office

So it good, the phrase “I’ve made real progress” (that real gives it extra wishy-washy power, I tell you), and a few other words and phrases that I don’t feel like typing in now (*shrugs* I may need to use them later 😉  )

So, how about I just play with some specifics for this ROW80 check-in?

My goals this round are:

  1. working through three chapters weekly of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure (including exercises)
  2. catching up in my local critique group (including submitting something this week)
  3. typing two pages a day of old notebooks in
  4. (VIG) Write new words daily! (the Five Sentences)

MAIN GOAL: Assess progress weekly and add more projects as needed.

So what does this mean in real numbers?

  1. I did one chapter; I should have taken into account that the exercises were likely to get more involved as I went along, and that as a new project, I might need to finish a few other projects first.
  2. I did nothing there; the group is in something of a hiatus for the April CampNaNoWriMo.
  3.  Overachiever here…  Since last Monday, I’ve typed in 43 pages of old story, two pages of gathered notes from recent book research, and two more pages of notes for my (now late) ROW80 sponsor post; obviously, with that kind of typing count (I’m a mediocre typist who manages at best between 38-55wpm according to 750words.com), I have time to redirect to my other goals
  4. Got this one in the bag too!  Even though I only added this goal on Wednesday, I found myself rapidly making up for lost time the rest of this week.  My weekly new word count is a bit over 4K (okay, 4031!)  Unfortunately this includes more than story words, as I’ve fought with four possible drafts ideas for my sponsor post.  Still…  new writing is new writing.

ROW80LogocopyIn the grand assessment, I see where I can afford to redirect energy.  I don’t need to spend so much time typing in old stories and notes.  If I dedicate half to Plot & Structure every other day and then use the off days for writing group, I’ll be able to let projects simmer just about the right about to meet those goals no problem.

And now for a few “extras”:

Though it wasn’t in my goals list, I’ve also managed to get a fair amount of reading done this week.  I hesitate to set this as a goal,  not that I expect my reading list to dwindle in any way.  But so far I have:

Already I am grabbing the rare ten minute to luck half-hour sprints here and there where I can.  I have a lot of reading I want to get done.  So no cuts there, but I’d like to add a touch more fiction to my list.  Yesterday at the meeting of the local chapter of the RWA, I got a few suggestions to add to my reading list.  Will be checking those out soon.

And another goal/not-goal…  I’ve achieved 98 days of French and German on Duolingo.  I’ve missed a week of Russian and Spanish.   Doing all four languages daily was getting to be too much, so….  balance.  I have to find a balance here yet too.

Until then…  one of the few things I can write in Russian: Досвидания!

You can find more ROWers here!