Monday, September 8, 2014

What Can We Say on a Monday When I Have Revisions Due?

How About...Get your butt working!

I am working. I'm working really hard. I just paused for a bit here on Friday night because I was thinking about a conversation I had with my sister this week. I've been successfully dieting for three weeks. I say "successfully" because technically I've been unsuccessfully dieting for an entire year and not losing any weight. But a few weeks ago my trainer weighed me. Yes. Faint, right? She weighed me. And there we were in that little room with her seeing my real weight.


The goal is to lose one pound a week, so by God, when the next week came and I had to step on the scale...I intended to be down a pound. I was. Actually, I was down three. The next week I was down two. This week I hope to continue my downward spiral and I'm pretty confident I will. Why? I 'm not merely motivated. I have a system. No kidding. I eat weight management oatmeal for breakfast, a weight watchers frozen meal for lunch and a light supper. I can eat weight watcher's ice cream for snack and these little packets of snacks I buy from an online company called Graze. In order to lose weight and save face, I DO NOT DEVIATE from that plan.

I do the same thing with writing. I have systems. I have schedules. I get up at six thirty, drink my coffee, read my emails, take my son to Starbucks and when we return I go upstairs with my laptop and no one sees me until after eleven. Noon, if I don't have an appointment with my trainer that day.

Most people believe having a system is a good way to assure your productivity. But the effect of the system actually runs deeper than that. Come eight o'clock my brain is awake and working. Because that's what it does everyday, I have it trained to start working at eight. If Mikie happens to take longer in Starbucks than normal, my brain begins writing as I'm waiting in the car.

Systems for things like figuring out characters, plotting, getting to your desk every day at a certain hour and working for a specific amount of time don't just work because they get you working...they work because your brain likes them.

Just like a little kid, it likes to be told what to do. It also likes to be reminded of the neuropathways to take for things like creating a character, filling in a storyboard or writing a synopsis. When you pull out a chart or an empty storyboard, it says, "Oh, yes, I know this." And it gets to work.

Now, just in case your brain becomes too familiar with your tools and starts coming up with the same kinds of stories...or in case your brain shuts down when it sees charts and graphs, there's always the list of twenty. What are twenty DIFFERENT ways I can open this book? What are twenty NEW plots I haven't written?  Give your brain a clear question and good soldier that it is, your brain will come up with 20 answers.

You might not be able to use them all. :) In fact, I can guarantee about three-quarters of them will be silly putty...But really? Who's going to turn down FIVE new openings? Or FIVE new plots?

The value of the list of twenty is immeasurable because the number of questions you can ask is as high as you can think up questions...That's a bad sentence, but it's Friday night and you get my drift.

So if you're having trouble writing, set a schedule and don't deviate. Train your brain to come alive at eight (as mine does...even in church...which is why I carry a pen and small tablet to mass, much to my husband's dismay). Give your brain a chance to have fun by using the list of twenty. And USE the fact that your brain likes schedules and likes to be guided with tools like storyboards, character charts, instructions for how to write a synopsis. And have fun!

Happy Monday...and Happy Reading...

susan, the scheduled. :)

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