Don’t Worry. This is a muslin using an old bedsheet.
There is something to be said for being stubborn. To be an artist or craftsperson, you need tenacity, enough to see you to the end of a project. At some point (about the end of the second week of Nanowrimo) you will get discouraged. This can’t be any good you say, it’s cliche’d and badly made. You might push through, and your tenacity will have paid off.
Or not. In episode #12 of Jason Brubaker’s Making Comics Podcast (he also does the comic reMIND) they discussed knowing when it’s time to quit. Which got me thinking about Heinlein’s second rule of writing (you must finish what you start).
I started this jacket for a temp assignment interview, when I realized I didn’t have a suit. I had a pattern for a short jacket, and a skirt. I also had about three days before the interview. I knew from the start something extremely tailored would never work, because it’s impossible to make something professional looking in three days without any experience. I tried out the pattern before I bought any ‘real’ fabric luckily, and I knew by the middle of the second day this wasn’t going like I’d hoped. The project was abandoned and I bought something which worked (and got the assignment). Now there is no reason for me to finish the project. I don’t regret it — it will never be what I initially envisioned. Instead, I can focus my energy on to my navy blue knit dress.
There is tenacity and then there is trying to get a dead horse to run. When do you cut your losses and put a project out of it’s misery? Knowing this is like knowing when something is done. It’s a matter of experience and a little luck (I had a printmaking teacher who would say you would have to lose something three times before you found it).
Heinlein’s Rules (for reference).
Filed under Follow-Up, Life
Here is a picture of one of the aliens I wrote into my Nanowrimo Camp. I know they are going to come to earth at some point and they are going to want coffee. The colors are anemic, so that have to re-think/ re-draw it at some point.
This is another post about procrastination. I do a lot of it.
April is Camp Nanowrimo! It used to be Script Frenzy, but since that’s no longer a thing, scripts have become a part of Camp. You can also set your own goal, which is new this year. I set mine to 30,000 words, 1000 words a day. So that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
- Wandering around the craft store (Ooh, I must have use for that, and that and that… I call the abundance of new ideas ‘crafter’s brain’)
- Reading about vintage sewing methods, modern sewing methods and drafting patterns
- Researching at handcraft marketplaces besides Etsy ( I may or may not decide to sell my crafts)
- Searching Pinterest for craft fails
- Cleaning my room (You saw that right)
- Listening to podcasts (Drawing while listening to podcasts is super helpful, not so much writing)
- Writing this post (okay, I should’ve written this a couple days ago, but…)
- Eating Easter candy (sugar, whoooo!)
- Eating leftover meatloaf (My grandmother’s recipe)
- Checking twitter and browsing links found there (All those tabs slowed my browser down…)
- Checking my email repeatedly
- Checking news links
- Some years ago, I procrastinated during Nanowrimo by watching Hannah Montana videos. (I am nowhere near the demographic that would make that okay. And unlike My Little Pony, I am indifferent to Miley Cyrus.)
So the cure for this procrastination is: Butt in the Chair and Writing (I didn’t come up with that phrase, but it’s super helpful). That is the only thing that is a real, lasting solution, to anything whether it is novel writing, graphic novel drawing or a job search. I could ask why I can sit down and commit and go writing off on that tangent, but that just invites more procrastination. And 1000 words is not that much.
On the Nanowrimo boards one year, someone (I can’t remember who, sorry) mentioned that to enforce the butt in the chair thing, they actually took a scarf and tied themselves down. Some people use rewards, like chocolate, or new books, but those just distract me. I might try the scarf idea.
So, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog. I realized when I signed in just now, that I didn’t post at all in 2011. I spent most of that time going to community college to learn how to be a paralegal. I had it “up to here” with writing and turning things in, in general. But now, I’ve graduated and in between jobs, I have the time and presence of mind to post again.
While in school, I did do some writing besides school assignments. I won two NaNoWriMo years while in school after all, a ScriptFrenzy (sadly a recently defunct challenge similar to NaNo), and while I was commuting to school I started another science fiction novel. But despite that I couldn’t find the time to write on this blog.
Part of this was self motivation –Deadlines are so much better at motivating me. Cross this line and — something bad happens. Or something like that. NaNo and ScriptFrenzy were great deadlines. There is a start and a finish, the thing doesn’t spread out into infinity. There is only so much room for procrastination, not an entire lifetime.
Writing on the bus wasn’t a deadline as such, but it had a limited timespan and lets face it, there is not much else I’m doing on the bus besides reading, writing or listening to my iPod. When I got to school, I would have to put my writing away and think about other things. I got a lot done, but then my commute ended before the novel did, and I’ve been doing other things ever since.
Now I’m doing NaNoWriMo Camp, so I can have more deadlines (I like them. For noveling). This pared down version of NaNo takes place in June and August. I was browsing through a thread someone had post about user’s blogs and realized that I still create stuff and I have time. I can still talk about what I make, which is what this blog was created for.
So it’s been three years, but I finally finished my 2006 NaNoWrimo. It’s a story I’ve been working on in one form or another since oh, about eighth grade. Don’t worry, the thing has matured as I have and I expect it to mature more yet as I edit.
In some ways I’ve finished with the easy part — the easy part many people don’t finish. What the first draft comes down to is putting your butt in the chair and advancing the plot. If something doesn’t click, you can write it out in the next scene and write a ‘note to self’ to edit it later.
But the most important part is to write. The writing won’t be done all at once (the fastest I’ve ever done a draft is 30 days, that was part of a challenge and it was hardly the length of a usual novel: 50,000 words), so the best thing is to do a little ever time you get the chance. This may mean doing the same time every day, or like I did, in between everything else. I took a spiral bound notebook with me and wrote scenes on the bus, on my lunch hour, on the train, on the weekends. I wrote a lot of other things in that notebook too, including bus schedules, phone numbers and grocery lists. Interspersed were pieces of my novel. When I got home I would transcribe the latest bit of my story into the document in my computer.
I had to write the end of the story three times before I got one I could live with. There are a lot of loose ends to the narrative and I have a feeling I know what my next NaNoWrimo subject is going to be.
Something to keep in mind about writing though: everyone works differently. Find the thing that works for you. I may take a lot of searching. I can only write about what works for me.
So the “easy” part is done: now I get to edit this big fat mess. It’s a story I’ve been working on so long a yet I still love the characters — which I take as a good sign. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford the ink/paper needed to make a hard copy…
It’s almost November (a few more hours…), and I’m going to the midnight launch of National Novel Writing month in Portland. So I’ll be dreaming up a novel in November.
Go to www.nanowrimo.org to witness (or get in on) the madness.
Also, find me on Twitter: “ThePripyet.” I’ll tweet some book reviews during the month instead of writing here. I don’t have a pic yet, but don’t get freaked out. I’m planning to add one very soon.
And, for the record, The Adventures of Augie March is slow going.
This list was inspired by a thread in the NaNoWriMo forums. I thought about it after I’d read it, and realized that I used to have that problem, but since I’d decided to take the 50,000 word challenge, the problem had mostly disappeared in November and was greatly reduced the rest of the year.
Here is how I get over that “hump”– where the first flush of success has worn off, but the story is nowhere near it’s halfway point:
- Be interested in your story — don’t write something that you feel you ‘should’, or characters that you think are cool even though you despise writing about them. It’s very hard to mull over the details of a story when it feels like schoolwork.
- Don’t get distracted and start something else — I get good ideas all the time. I write down what I know of the idea, and go back to my original project, that way I don’t have a lot of false starts lying around. Instead, I have a lot of notes and finished draft.
- Make sure you have an ending in mind — This ending may change as your story develops, but it’s good to have in mind a goal, so that you have a place to write to.
- Be flexible, let the story suggest itself — If the characters are shoehorned into doing something that they wouldn’t and the reader knows they wouldn’t, the reader feels betrayed. Let the characters speak; you may not be writing the story you think you are writing.
- Do it all during Nano — this one isn’t necessarily only for Nanoers. It means find the situation in which you work best (under pressure, in the bath, in complete silence). Try to get yourself into that situation as often as possible, and do as much writing as you can when you can.
- Keep notes — nothing gets done all at once. If you try to write the details the first time around, you might miss the bigger picture. Rather than going back and fussing, keep notes about your ideas. This sort of dovetails with the first point — keep notes so that you know what ending fits with the current incarnation of the characters.
- Don’t worry — Some people want to get every sentence perfect before moving on. Maybe this works for them, but it slows down momentum, and then boredom sets in, and then the story is in danger of being abandoned altogether. Some people also worry that what they are doing has been done before — well it probably has. Shakespeare didn’t write much that was original, he just did it better.
- Don’t wait for inspiration or motivation — this is big. To those who wait, inspiration or motivation will never come. Write even when you don’t feel like it, or when all you have talk about is the color of the rug.
- Let others motivate you — Tell your trusted friends what you are doing: sometimes the best motivator is a friend asking about your latest project. That way you can say ‘oh, I finished that months ago’ and wait for their impressed exclamations.
I wrote these with fiction in mind but it can be applied, with a little tweaking perhaps, to many projects.
And yes, I’m still working on labeling and optimizing those pictures I took in Portland.