Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maybe it's the process.

(Before I get started... here's a photo of me wearing my new favorite earrings for Show Off Your Maille Week. I love the way the matte silver sequins look with aluminum jump rings from Blue Buddha Boutique!)


Maybe it's the process.

When I started writing fiction, I had a steep learning curve. Sometimes it felt vertical -- you know, kind of like a brick wall?

I had no shortage of plots and characters that excited me. My work hours were flexible, so I could schedule my writing whenever I wanted. I also had an ideal workspace. When it wasn't the living room couch, it was everywhere else. The car, hotel rooms, restaurants.

But for the first few years, I never finished a thing. At first I thought I wasn't meant to be a writer. While people who read my stories said they were good, good wasn't the same as complete.

It took some time, but I realized that my process was all wrong, and not necessarily my writing. I'd write these random, unconnected scenes and try to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle... and what I ended up with was the world's craziest crazy quilt. Then I'd print out my manuscripts and proceed to fill them with tiny, cramped letters, upside down in the margins. Little arrows everywhere.

(What were you pointing to, arrows? To this day, I'm not sure.)

In short? I made writing harder than it needed to be!

I started refining my technique. I wrote pieces from start to finish, like knitting a scarf instead of piecing a quilt. I typed my suggestions to myself in nice, clean, readable letters. No arrows! As a result, I finished rough drafts of a novel and six novella-length pieces.

What I've learned is this: whether you're writing a novel or running a business, the wrong process can hold you back. It can disguise itself as a lack of drive or talent, but once you recognize that you need a better approach, (usually a simpler one) you can change the way you work.

How do you do this? Identify where you're creating needless work for yourself. Then brainstorm ways to make things easier. You might have to experiment a little, and you might discover what doesn't work before you discover what does, but I promise, it will be worth your while.

Don't rule out the possibility of asking other people how they work. You can learn a lot that way! If I hadn't listened to a friend who insisted that sometimes a total rewrite is the only way to salvage a story, I wouldn't have written one of my novellas.

Keep in mind, though, that there's no such thing as a one size fits all approach to process, or to success -- so do your research, ask around, but if something seems wrong to you, or makes you want to give up completely, then don't do it! Better to have an overly complicated approach for now than to adopt one that makes you miserable.

Certain writers and artists go on about how their field is cluttered with mediocre, undisciplined, untalented people who just aren't meant to do the things they love. I think that 7 times out of 10, that's a bunch of hooey (and 10 times out of 10, nobody's business -- but that's a story for another time)! There are plenty of people who are phenomenally gifted, but who are also disorganized or prone to over-complicating things. The wonderful thing is, they can learn to ditch work habits that don't work.

So if you find yourself having a tough time, don't despair. Odds are, it's not your product that's the problem -- it's just the process!

Are your work habits solid, or is there something you need to change? Please share!

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

8 comments:

  1. Have you seen this video yet? It is an interesting take on creativity, organization etc. Even though the artist doesn't work alone like most of us, we can still distill a lot from it.

    Plus it is funny.........

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49p1JVLHUos

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  2. Thanks for posting the link to the video! I'd never seen it before. So far I've watched the first 8 minutes of it, and I'm enjoying it.

    I especially like all the labels and notes all over the studio. I use a lot of labels in my own studio so I know what's what. I do let myself borrow CDs, though. ;)

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  3. Iam a former jewelry maker. Your chainmaille is great!!!
    For what concerns writing and making arts, I've recently read a good book about Mind Mapping: Tony & Barry Buzan "The Mind Map Book". It's very useful for plotting and against cretivity blocks.
    Happy Halloween!!

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  4. Thank you so much! And welcome to the blog. :)

    Ohhh, I love reading new books! Thanks for sharing! I'll have to see if it's at the library.

    Happy Halloween to you, too!

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  5. Everything is a process....good luck with your ventures!

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  6. Welcome, Lady G!

    You're right about that. I think my next step will be to learn to slow down and savor the process a little more instead of rushing to whatever destination I'm heading to. :)

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  7. I am glad that I read your blog today. I have had a fictional story in my mind for a while, and I think that I just have to try to start from the beginning and keep going like you suggest.

    I started blogging to help me write more. Now I have to write my fictional story. Time to get motivated!

    Nicely written post!

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  8. Thanks, and welcome! :)

    I'm glad I could help! I know it's really short notice, but tomorrow, National Novel Writing Month begins (http://www.nanowrimo.org). You could always join the craziness!

    Also, I'm always happy to share the writing-related things I've learned. So if you have any questions as you get writing, I'm here!

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