cl polk’s emotional craft of fiction read-along

Saw this from C. L. Polk a couple days ago. (She just won a World Fantasy Award for Witchmark, which is a fantastic book that you should definitely read!)

It seems like a great opportunity to do a guided reading and discussion of a writing-as-craft book. A couple of my writing buddies and I are going to read along, participate in #ficcraft, and do our own book club type discussions with each other. If I get ambitious, I may put a few blog posts up as well.

It starts December 1st.

Here’s an Indiebound link to The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass if you’re interested in following along.

 

2019 q4 goals

I don’t know how to set goals.

It seems like a weird thing to say, but I don’t get it.

Sure, I can come up with a list of things I want to do, but I find that there’s a disconnect between what I’m doing day to day and the overarching things I want to accomplish. I either lose sight of the big picture, or I can’t figure out how to break the goals down into things I can do in my daily life.

I’ve been thinking about this more because of Notion and having to write out specific tasks. Applying labels and categories and looking at the accumulation of things I’m working on has helped this take shape for me. I’m starting to feel a little less like I’m wandering aimlessly through a featureless landscape and a little more like maybe there’s a roadmap. But also specifically, that I’m the one creating the roadmap. So, in this metaphor, I guess I’m a cartographer? (For a map that will probably only be useful for me… Let’s go ahead and drop the metaphor here.)

This morning something clicked. I was listening to the first ep of season 3 of Genre Hustle about goal-setting, and everyone was giving AP shit (good-naturedly) for having daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. And I thought, maybe this is where my disconnect is.

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your own alphabet

It’s your turn to write your own alphabet. Like writing any story, you may be surprised at what you find there. You might also be illuminated, changed, and charged by what you discover. We write not just to show off, not just to tell, or only to have written.

We write to know ourselves.

– Jane Yolen, Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft

nano (lite) 2019

Happy first day of NaNoWriMo 2019! (Or for those of you not doing it, happy first day of November!)

I’m only sort of doing NaNo this year. I’m out of the country on a family trip for two weeks this November, and I know that if I try to do 50k words, I’ll either burnout or fail or both. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be able to sustain consistent word count while abroad and while having a lot of family time.

I don’t want to come to the chair with dread—I want to want to come to the chair every day. Which isn’t to say that I think that getting the words in is easy. But even on hard days, when I can’t get my brain to focus and putting down even one word is like pulling teeth, even when I’m distracted or swamped in other details, what I want to do is write.

But just because I can’t do NaNo proper doesn’t mean I can’t do NaNo at all. The things I love about this event are the community, the support, and the momentum that comes from that upswell of enthusiasm. That doesn’t go away just because I can’t count up the words to 50k.

So instead, this year I’m doing a light version of NaNo. My goal is to write 10k words towards this project (working title: “the thing with the crocodiles”) I’ve been musing on for the last several months.

I’m trying out the C. L. Polk method of organizing by not organizing in the beginning stages of novel planning. I’m letting myself just ramble and stream-of-consciousness record the things I’ve been thinking about. I started this morning, and even though the stuff I have is nebulous, it feels good to get it out of my head and into a word pile on the paper.

Between the braindump and the first couple chapters, I think I should be able to get to 10k. Hopefully before the trip.

Are you doing NaNo this year?

(P.S. I really like the logo design this year.)

discovering notion, or one system to rule them all

I’m always on the look out for better ways to organize my chaotic brain. But because each application or tool is really good at one thing and then medium or bad at everything else, I end up with a vast collection of tools that I barely use while trying to hold all of my workflow stuff in my head.

This works about as well as you would expect.

And though I know exactly how it’s going to end (i.e. poorly), my system consistently devolves into this state. Entropy, man. It’ll get you in the end.

At the beginning of last week, I had once again reached that threshold where this “system” was untenable. I was only paying attention to my day to day agenda without thinking about how each of my tasks impacted my overall trajectory towards long-term goals. Was I moving in the direction that I wanted to go? Was I prioritizing things correctly? Is it possible to know any of those things without writing them down somewhere? Maybe for some people, but definitely not for me.

So I found myself looking at the vast array of tools I already use to track parts of my life—AirTable for submissions, Excel/Sheets for story outlines, Word/Docs for brainstorming, Pocket (prev Evernote) for interesting articles or resources or inspo, Calendar for tracking appointments and life stuff, a bullet journal for day to day agenda items, Trello for workflow, variably Todoist or Keep or Workflowy or scraps of paper for checklists…—and despairing. I mean, the process of listing all of those things out gave me mild palpitations.

The idea of adding something to this list was daunting. The idea of shoving a writing workflow/goals tracker into one of these systems, having it fail because it doesn’t quite fit right, and then winding up back in this exact same position a handful of months down the line… It’s so demoralizing.

You see, I end up at this place because I am very particular. I have an idea of how I want to track things, of what might be useful to my brain, and of how I want to interact with a program. The problem I have is that nothing seems to work quite the way I want it to. It’s a lot to ask for, one organizational system to rule them all.

Enter Notion.so.

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