Thursdays

I’ve been trying to get out for a walk each day, and trying to take a photograph on the walks. I want to do both of these things, and my theory is that these desires will be self-reinforcing: My desire to take a photo will get me out on my walk, and my desire to go out on a walk will prompt me to get out and take a photograph.

With that in mind, I’ve been going ahead and scheduling a chunk of walk/photograph time between my two morning writing sessions. Today, though, I was meeting some friends for lunch, so I postponed the walk until late morning, then did my walking and photography in the neighborhood of the restaurant.

Thursdays are my most social day–I have lunch with one group of friends (a couple of them former coworkers) and then before dinner meet with my local Esperanto group. With all that, plus the fact that I spent a chunk of the afternoon working on a short talk that I delivered to the Esperanto group, meant that my fiction word count was just 500 words. But they’re words I’m happy with.

Trying for a daily routine

I’m of the opinion that having a daily routine helps protect space for creativity. If I don’t have a routine I tend to lurch back and forth between neglecting the mundane affairs of daily life and allowing them to consume the time for creative pursuits. I actually wrote a Wise Bread post on the topic: Being Routinely Creative.

Merely knowing this about myself does not automatically provide an effective routine, so I’m always on the lookout for good models. One that I spotted a while back was the daily routine of Charles Darwin. I tried briefly to follow a similar routine, but didn’t manage to turn it into a habit. Now I’m trying again.

There are several things I like about Darwin’s routine.  For one thing, it was obviously effective—Darwin managed to sustain a high level of productive creativity over an extended period. Its priorities (work, fitness, family) are general in accordance with mine. As a bonus, the amount of time and the times of day that Darwin spent working roughly matches what I find lets me be my most productive.

So, today I tried to block out my time along the lines of Darwin’s schedule. It didn’t quite work out, partly because of details of the schedule itself and partly because I was still lurching between ignoring the schedule and following it too enthusiastically, but it was a good start. I’ve blocked out a modified version of the schedule for tomorrow.

Tracking words

I go back and forth about tracking words as a useful metric when writing fiction.  Currently, I’m back on again.

Over the past few days, I’ve created a spreadsheet along the lines of the one Toby provided in his post on creativity and word tracking.  Mine is simpler than his; I don’t have a deadline, so I don’t need to track progress toward one.

My main input is simply the length of the current draft.  From that I calculate the words written that day.  I’m also tracking a 5-day moving average (although I’m thinking of changing that to a 7-day moving average, to smooth out the impact of weekday issues).  I calculate a “words to go” value (by subtracting words written from an estimated final length) and a “days to go” value (“words to go” divided by the moving average).  Currently I’m using 60,000 words as my estimated final length–a reasonable value for a short novel, I think–but if I come up with a better guess as I proceed I can change my estimate.

I’m currently at 7555 words and my current 5-day moving average is 745 words per day, so my estimated days to completion of a first draft is 70.  We’ll see.

Is this useful?  I’m not sure yet.  But I do know that I wrote 318 words of fiction yesterday, even though I also wrote a new Wise Bread post and was feeling a bit burned out.  The fact that I’d otherwise have had to plug a zero in for words written yesterday was significant motivation for getting me to put in the time to get some fiction written.

Once again working on a novel

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo (because I’m not going to try to write this in a month, and also because I started a couple of weeks ago), but I am going to be cranking away producing novelish prose over the next month, so I feel a certain kinship with others doing the same.

I’m doing several things differently this time.  In particular, I don’t have an outline.  In fact, I have only the barest notion of where things are going.  This will no doubt mean that a whole bunch of rewriting of the beginning will be required (so that it ends up being a beginning that heads to the end that I end up writing), but that’s a small price to pay if the result is a novel that I’m pleased with.

The other main thing that I’m doing differently is giving chapters to Jackie to read as I write them.  Doing so has prompted me to try to make each bit exciting, which I think is having a positive effect.

Crossposting

After I quit keeping the writing journal that grew out of my Clarion journal, I found that my occasional urge to post journal-like stuff was easily enough satisfied by an occasional post on my LiveJournal Bradipo Rigardas LiveJournal-on.  (The name, which means “A sloth looks at LiveJournal” was a pun on the name of my Esperanto blog Bradipo Rigardas Esperanton.)

Of late, though, I’ve once again felt like keeping a writing journal, and found that, for various reasons, LiveJournal wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.  However, as I do have a number of friends on LiveJournal, I thought I’d see if I could get a crossposting plugin to work.

Hence, this post, which is largely an test of crossposting.

If you are also spending less time on LiveJournal or for some other reason would rather read my blog directly or in your feed reader, check out https://www.philipbrewer.net/ for posts, feeds, etc.

[Updated to allow commenting on LiveJournal as well.]

Local film: Revolting

We went to see the premier of the locally produced indy film Revolting last week—a fine movie.

It’s the story of a writer of serious plays, who had written one frivolous piece for his wife that had gone on to be a huge success, launching his wife’s acting career, and making the local theater group a bunch of money.  Now divorced, and with his serious plays all flops, he finally gives in to pressure to write a sequel to his one lighter piece, only to have his characters start complaining about the quality of his writing—at first on the page, and then in person.  And, since he visualizes his characters as the local actors likely to play them, the result is confusion for the character and humor for the audience.

I’m always a big fan of movies that accurately portray the writing life—movies like “Shakespeare in Love,” for example—and that’s where this movie is at its best.  The scenes where he’s preparing to write—dusting and cleaning his workspace, arranging his paper and notecards in perfectly aligned rows and stacks—are wonderful.

Unless you’re local to Champaign, I don’t know if you’ll have much of a chance to see “Revolting,” but if the opportunity arises (and you’re interested in accurate portrayals of the writing life), don’t miss it.

There’s a surprisingly active bunch of local filmmakers.  We’ve previously seen the local films Disconnect, Act Your Age and Press Start, after having gotten started seeing premiers of local films with “Gamerz” which was shown at WorldCon in Glasgow—also a locally produced film, but local to Scotland, rather than Central lllinois.  All are worth seeing, if you get a chance.

Taiji, manuscripts, database

Today was Taiji class.  The instruction is following an interesting direction.  It’s our third class, but we have yet to do a taiji form.  Instead, we’re learning pieces.  We spent two days doing the upper-body parts of Cloud Hands one-handed.  Today we did them two-handed for the first time.  Separately, we’ve done several bits of footwork:  shifting weight, empty step, etc.  We’ve not yet done anything that combines upper-body and lower-body motions.  However, I have a strong sense that we’re building a proper foundation.  By the time we do our first actual piece of the form, I expect we’ll have most of the moves for doing the whole thing.

Got some writing-related work done today.  I put two manuscripts in the post.  I also revitalized my old submission-tracking database, which I hadn’t gotten properly set up when I got a new computer several years ago.  I wasn’t actively submitting manuscripts, so it didn’t seem urgent.  Then when I started sending them out again I didn’t want to wait to get my tracking system working, so I just did the tracking in a spreadsheet.  Today I got the old tracking system working again, and moved over all the data from the spreadsheet.  So, I once again have complete submission information for all my manuscripts, including a few old manuscripts that hadn’t yet been submitted to every market.

Contributors copies of US Airways Magazine

US Airways Magazine is running my Wise Bread article Understand Capital Costs in their section “The Gist.”  It appears on page 22 of the October 2009 issue.  I got my contributors copies in the mail today.

I’m not sure what day they actually change out the magazine onboard the planes, but I assume for the next month or so airline passengers will be reading my article!