Sixty days of Creativity: Summer challenge!

June 18, 2012 in writing by higlet

White Rock Beach in BC, by Mary HigginsGetting ready for Summer
At some stage the clouds will leave the West Coast of Canada and we’ll start our Summer in style. The luscious greenery will slowly recede and the grass will crisp into its golden summer coat. The secondary schools are already out, seniors have graduated, and only a few exams stand between the students and their halcyon days. In just over a week the schools in Abbotsford will be done for the year, and the ten long weeks of Summer vacation will be here.

Summer: a time for relaxation, fun and enjoying the great outdoors!

And yet…

This year, it’s all about you, me and the tyranny of the blank page*

Writing is easy. In theory. You write one word after another, and keep on going until you are done. Let me list some of the ways I can fail at this most simple of tasks:

Never starting
There are myriad reasons to never start. Here are some of the excuses I have used (and will use again):

  • I am too busy with life.
  • I am building up the backstory of the characters/setting/story.
  • I need to do more research.
  • I got distracted by a book/website/all of the internet.
  • I was meaning to, but THE WHOLE WORLD got in the way.

Never finishing
Even if I start the work, there’s no guarantees I’ll finish it. Here are some of my current favourites:

  • I need to rewrite the whole thing, and that’s too daunting.
  • I can’t find a way to join these bits up.
  • I’ve got quite far with this thing, but this new idea is so much better – I should start that instead!
  • I should blog about that stuff that happened, because that will be done quickly. Then I’ll get back to this.
  • I should write, film and edit a webseries**. It’ll be good for my platform. Then I’ll get back to those other things.
Humming bird at feeder by Mary Higgins

Nurture creativity by returning again and again

Doing the work
For me, it’s back to basics time. When I was writing ‘Turning Left at Albuquerque’ I was writing every day, being productive and I drove myself forward using word counts and time spent. Yes, I wish I had spent more time plotting beforehand. Yes, I wish I had not let myself write all around the houses BUT – I did the work and got it done. Now I need to edit it and finish the thing. And get on with the other projects I want to do.

One hour, every day, for sixty days.
So, this is the challenge I’ve set myself. It’s a little bit like Nanowrimo, but I’m not trying to write a book. I’m just trying to create. For one hour. Every day.  My daughter, Emily, has been writing for a long time now and is working on her first novel. Over the Summer she will be completing it and getting it ready for publication and she is going to join in. Another couple of people are also going to try it out, too.

Why an hour, why not a word count?
That’s a good question. I’ve always worked better to time constraints than word counts. I’d rather devote an hour to writing the right thing, than hitting a target of, say, 2000 words. I’ve done the word count part and that left me with a novel that topped 150, 000 words. So I’m trying to be smarter. Also, I can cut myself off from distractions for finite periods of time now my kids are older. They are usually mindful and respectful if I need to get things done, and an hour is a reasonable time slot for both sides.

Jane Espenson (a writer I admire immensely) regularly does writing sprints on Twitter. If it’s good enough for Jane, then it’s good enough for me.

When/where/how?
We’ll be starting on Thursday next week, June 28th 2012. I’ll post more about the details before then, so if you have any suggestions, comments or want to join in – let me know!

The water park can wait by Mary Higgins

The water park will still be there…

* I have tried to find out where ‘tyranny of the blank page’ quote comes from, but it might well be from Jim Coudal at his 2008 SXSW speech. Thanks to LB and Warmaiden for checking it out for me. Librarians are cool.

** To be fair, ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ was not truly a diversionary tactic and was a project well worth doing. In fact, the break away from novel editing was a good thing. But if I do another one before getting this novel finished,  you’ll know I’m really stalling.