Author’s Log: On Spinning Plates and Kicking Cranes

“There is no overacting; only untrue acting.” ~Stellan Skarsgard, actor.

typeitytypeityAh, May. A fresh, shiny new month stretches before us, full of sunshine and promise. Begone, Wintery doldrums! I banish thee until (at least) next February.

I’m in Florida, there are palm trees out my front windows, and birdies taunting the Ninja Katz out the back. The Evil Day Jobbe Project From The Deepest Pits of Hell (the ones even Dante didn’t have the cajones to explore) is officially OVER, another semester of school for the Tech Monkey is officially tagged and bagged, and once more I feel as though I can actually BREATHE.

*inhales*

*exhales*

This means that, as of this weekend, I’m in peak planning mode. The highs and lows of the last few months have taught me some things about myself:

  1. My creativity doesn’t flourish well at a desk. Between back issues, sporadic midnight attacks of IBS, and the constant struggle of managing curious and demanding Ninja Katz, I’ve found I do much better reclined on the couch or recliner with my laptop. This alleviates any back pain I might be experiencing, and gives the Ninja Katz a comfortable place to join me should they desire my company and frequent ear scratches. My office is therefore reserved for the business of writing–planning, editing, marketing, and branding.
  2. Nor does my writing flourish when it comes writing for word count. By focusing on the quanitity of wordage rather than the quality, I lose that certain something that makes me unique–my voice. It’s missing from my characters, from the balance of melody and harmony that gives me that lyrical tone I’ve developed through the years. It means I’m talking, when I should be listening. Overwriting is untrue writing–I must remember that.
  3. This leads me to pacing myself. By trying to do too much, I become stressed and cranky and an altogether less-than-pleasant writerly person. Writing stops being fun. And if anything stops being fun, you’re doing it wrong. And this HAS to be fun, else why bother? When you lose the joy, you lose motivation. And when you lose motivation, you lose productivity, and perspective. I’m not writing chamber music here. I need the notes to soar, and that requires unfettered, but masterly crafted, joy.

So this weekend I’ve been considering my production schedule for the summer, which means refining my own personal process with a view to scheduling it in such a way as to maximize my productivity without trying to push myself to do too much. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. My goals: Three novellas and one novel per year. Also, I want a polished draft of Big Dang Projeckt to shop around beginning in January 2014.
  2. Workshops: There’s a new Campnanowrimo in July. This would be the perfect opportunity to write my first draft of Waking Muse #1. Also, I want to get back into critiquing, as I have severly slacked off on that this year. BAD, BAD WORD MONKEY!
  3. Flash Fiction: My readers deserve More Free Stuff. Writing flash is in excellent exercise for me, and it turns out I’m actually kinda good at it (who knew?). Also, did I mention Free Stuff? FREE! YAY!

What this all comes down to is that I’ve aligned the three steps of my writing process–development, drafting, and editing–to balance out the different creative parts of my brain, and leave me more free time to let it rest. The brain, I have learned, must rest lest it leak and steam like an overheated radiator. Ew. And, mainly, Ouch.

Planning (including development) will not only get me properly into writing mode, but will act as a warm-up to the actual writing (drafting) part of the process. Editing will act as a cooldown, bringing me back down to earth after the high of heightened creativity. I don’t have any problems switching between projects, as long as I’m not in the drafting process of more than one. This means some creative plate-spinning on my part. Development on Project A, Drafting on Project B, and General Editing or Reading. This last might be editing a project for Editor Awesome, in preparation for submission, or critique duties. Reading would be for pleasure and relaxation, but also with a critical eye open for craft.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? This is where careful planning comes in. Development is essential for me. I spend a solid month of my process on character development, with very specific things that need to be accomplished–but that don’t, neccessarily, take a lot of time. So as long as I pace myself throughout the week, this should serve as a effective warm-up. I can then spend another solid month on plotting, as it grows naturally from character. Only then can the drafting process begin: One month for a novella of 25-30k words, three months for a 90k novel.

Am I going to write every single day the sun brings? No. But at five-six days a week, a few hours a day, this should be a doable schedule. As long I know exactly what I have to accomplish in a given day, but make those daily goals attainable without overdoing it, I just might reach my best productivity ever.

I’ve blocked out the time. I’ve strapped on my magic Karate Kid headband. I am ready to rock my new, improved production schedule and kick the ever-luvin’ bejeezus out of my goals.

Who’s with me? *game face*

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