Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Discipline Versus Creative Flow

I’ve always gone with creative flow. If I’m working on a long project, and another idea does more than softly whisper through my brain, but starts doing little cartwheels to demand attention, I have to give it at least some.

I’m close to finishing revisions on my novel, and I had previously promised myself to turn away new ideas and keep my brain focused on this project until completion. I’ve made these little promises before, but I’ve never lived up to them. But this time my promise was so sincere, and I’ve done really well for a few months, not even tiptoeing into another story, so I kind of wanted to see the promise through. For one thing, I wanted to know if I could.

I think I could. If I wanted to. But do I really want to right now when there’s someone so vivid in my brain that she’s got me really curious as to what’s going on with her? Ah, decisions, decisions. My friends say No, don’t stop. You’re so close ... Keep going… You’re almost there.

I already take little breaks (besides blogging time) to edit the work of others, a job I love nearly as much as writing, and I also write an occasional feature story for a wonderful magazine. These I do in honor of my electric bill, which likes to be paid whether I want to pay it or not. Besides, I have overhead lights by my computer and they don’t work without electricity.

I can’t tell you how many little stories made an appearance in my brain during the last few months, and I’ve turned them all away—but this one is standing strong. So how do I keep diligent in my efforts on the big project while sneaking a little time to another one?

I’ve decided to use the same advice I give writers when they find themselves in a slump. Write a paragraph a day. If that’s all you demand of yourself when you're having a hard time writing, it isn’t an overwhelming task. Believe it or not, a paragraph a day puts out a well focused story when you eventually have enough paragraphs. The last short story of mine accepted for publishing (comes out in May) came together in this manner.

So here’s my plan. I will write one paragraph per day on the new story, or at least a few each week, while devoting the bulk of my time to finishing my novel. I really think this is the best idea, even though it’s breaking a promise to myself. The thing is, I feel strongly that if I don’t give a few minutes to this little story, it’s going to suck my focus from the novel anyway and make me careless, because I’ll be trying to hone in on an aspect of the novel, but not with my whole heart. That isn’t going to work.

So here’s to me and yet another broken promise. But don’t feel sorrow for me on this. I am going to finish the novel. And I am going to present myself with a new short story… At least I hope it’s a short one. :-)

How do you handle these creative interruptions? Am I making a mistake?

Happy writing!

31 comments:

  1. You could get a little dictation recorder and put the new bits of stories and ideas on that as you're doing other things. That way you can keep doing the editing and other writing at the same time.

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    1. good idea, thanks. I even have one of those little recorders.

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  2. Sounds like a good plan, Deb. If a story stands strong in your mind, you've got to capture it before it decided to leave you. And I have no doubt you will finish the novel. Can't wait to read it. No, I don't think you're making a mistake. It's good to plan, but also not bad to be spontaneous from time to time.

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    1. Spontaneous stories always seem to be the best, the ones I get published. :-)

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  3. Keep at it! I guess I'm the opposite. I can't work on anything else until I'm finished with whatever I'm currently working on. I get tunnel vision, which doesn't help when I'm waiting patiently for my queries to come back and that I should be spending the time focusing on new projects.

    I opened an Evernote account where I catalogue all my different ideas that I can return to at a later date! It's great because it's a cloud based app, that means you can take it with you on your phone, on your laptop, desktop, etc! Check it out. :)

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    1. That sounds interesting. do you have the link?

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  4. When i get ideas, i have to at least write enough of it out that i don't forget. A few keywords usually does it for me, but if a paragraph at a time works for you, do it.

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  5. My ocd hates when I have ten things on the go, but the stories flow and I have to let them out.

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  6. I get obsessive about revisions, which I almost always find easier than drafting. If a new project tempts me that strongly, it will be while I'm struggling with another first draft.

    When that happens, I pursue the new idea as long as it holds my interest.

    Up to now, the original idea has always called me back, and the new one turned out to be a dead end. Well, not really a dead end, because I usually needed it to get past a blockage on the other project.

    Shiny New Ideas that are Meant To Be usually wait their turn so they can get my full attention. If that makes sense ...

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    1. It does, and I did write enough of it out (summarized) that I think I can dabble on it a bit each day without taking from the larger project.

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  7. I don't think you're making a mistake at all. You're trusting your instincts and that's the right thing to do :)

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  8. Keep a notebook at hand at all times or a dictaphone as suggested above. Don't let those ideas escape. Go with the flow!

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    1. Thanks. yes, I did jot down some notes, but I am going to try the recorder suggestion too.

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  9. Trust in yourself. I know, from my own experience, that if I try to stick to the one thing I am determined inn getting done, I end up resenting it and I lose my creative juices and then it suffers. If I allow myself to get distracted I actually find the creative rush to finish what I started. Trust in who you are and it will work

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    1. Hmmm. This sounds awfully true. that's exactly what I was feeling, a bit trapped in one project and resenting that I couldn't spend a few minutes on something new.

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  10. I'm like you, all over the place. Only I don't have the discipline to stick to a single task unless I have a deadline. But if there's no deadline, the writing range is wide open.

    I think your approach is good. Take things one paragraph at a time. :)

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    1. Well, I have a few paragraphs already, and yet I have stuck to my schedule on the larger project too, so it can't be too bad of an idea. :-)

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  11. I think that's a good plan.
    I've committed to writing a haiku a day, and I also do my weekly 5-sentence fiction, and these two keep the creative juices flowing.
    I'm trying to get into a writing-every-day habit.
    The WIP is another story... I won't elaborate. LOL

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    1. I don't always get to write every, but I at least read over existing work and diddle with revisions if I'm not writing during my allotted writing time. :-)

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  12. I'm a stream-of-consciousness kinda guy. No outlines, etc. I love to see what curves my characters throw at me as they go through the activities that are planned by me.

    By the way, if you're interested, my latest post has information on how you can get a free Kindle download of a short comic book story I wrote. But you have to act before Monday, March 1st!

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    1. So sorry I didn't see this sooner. I haven't been able to get to my blog much the last few days. But I'll check out the comic anyway. :-)

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  13. Hi Debi - seems like you're fairly disciplined - a little dictaphone is a great idea (in fact the phone does too), as well as Evernote.com ... as well as that ever present notebook and pencil for the jottable things ... cheers and good luck - Hilary

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    1. Yes, I do keep a little notebook handy, and I also carry one in my purse, and another in my coat pocket in case I'm going purse-less. :-)

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  14. Sometimes its the beginning that gets me...blocked.

    http://justnibble.blogspot.com/

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    1. I saw the blog with the recipe. Sounds delish!

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  15. I think making time for both stories is a great way to go. Any story that strong in your head needs to be written. It would be terrible to lose it.

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    1. I agree. Sorry I missed this message earlier.

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  16. But, yet, where is our indelible soul going AFTER we leave our mortal body (our physical bodies decompose)? Find-out where we went...

    As a writer of the sassy, savvy, insane yooFEMisms we A-L-L go through in this finite existence, I as well as you gotta lotta angst, too, and the synonymous metaphors which shall creeep stealthily across thy brain like the vivid, brazen dawn are the cohesion which brings U.S. together, girl.

    So, see if you cannot subliminally 'read-between-the-lines' or VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI (Latin: words to the wise): here's summore symbiotically-explosive-coolness done in sardonic satires when we passed-away:

    Here's what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go git'm, girl. You're incredible.
    See you Upstairs...
    thesuperseedoftime.blogspot.com

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