Riding the Blimp
Good afternoon. Sorry I'm late, I just got home from physical therapy, which I think was a good investment, hence the late start. So yesterday I linked the Writers Helping Writers post in which the host talked about Sue Grafton's technique of Novel Journaling. I said I would look into it, and proceeded to do so. Today I tried it for the first time, and I am so blown away it isn't even funny. Most of you know that I've been writing in various formats for 58 years, and when I think about where I could have been if someone had shared this with me half a century ago, it almost brings me to tears. In the hope of opening someone else's eyes before it's too late, I'm going to share my experience here. I realize there are a lot of people, the majority I suspect, that are going to say, "I don't need any new techniques; I already know what I'm doing." It's human nature. I almost did it myself. I hope you don't, because the winners are going to be the ones who really look into this.
My family bought me a beautiful leather-bound journal last Christmas, and I have been keeping it semi-regularly. Journaling is a habit that I never developed, but I've been trying. Basically, later in the day, I record what I've been doing on the writing front. Two recent entries will serve as examples, and also as benchmarks to demonstrate the difference:
Thursday, August 24th
For all of yesterday's big talk, I managed to get half of a scene written. The pain in the right arm is back; maybe that's the distraction. I have a course of treatment coming up over the next few weeks. We'll see if the one improving condition spills over into the other.
Friday, August 25th
More procrastinatin'. Did a little organizing, not much. I have an opportunity to re-establish the habit tomorrow. Mustn't waste it.
I did, in fact, get some things done the following day, but they took the form of reviews, a blog post, a short-form poem, and talking with some of my author friends. What you read above, verbatim entries in my journal, amount to a chronicle of failure, a list of excuses for what I failed to accomplish, and a never-fulfilled promise to do better tomorrow. It's a litany of here's how I didn't with no corresponding plan for how I will.
Compare that with today's entry, written after studying Sue Grafton's method for a single day:
Wednesday, September 6th
This is my first day of attempting to journal like Sue Grafton. The loud and demanding part of my mind is demanding that I turn the computer on and get back to my routine. It will likely take it a while to learn that this is the routine. My arm (from the pinched nerve issue) is acting up pretty severely, but that's all right. I'm going in for a physical therapy session today, which is also why I didn't schedule any writing to be done.
The project I have set up to work on this week is the first story in The Darklighters, my Victorian Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. The two agents, Jinx and Smith, are in Hong Kong to prevent the assassination of the British trade minister by Kraken. The original working title was The Hidden City, and I've been stalled trying to work out where and what said hidden city might be. Having since changed the working title to The Secret Society, I have found this problem has disappeared completely. Lesson learned.
With no scene to write about today, I will instead give my first impression of this method. It is fabulous! I got up and without tuning in to the chatter, launched directly into writing with a clear head. My mind is focused on that writing, and would be tuned in to the very scene I had scheduled to write. My only regret is that no one turned me on to this fifty years ago!
Had I not had an important appointment today, that last paragraph would have consisted of a left brain - right brain discussion of the upcoming scene, and I would have sat down at the keyboard with both hemispheres warmed up and running at peak efficiency. I cannot imagine how I was ever able to write so much as a grocery list before discovering this method. This is too good not to share, and I sincerely hope that you get as much out of this as I did. For those who choose not to look, well, your choice, I guess.
Friends in the Biz
In other news, infrequent blogger Naomi Rawles has shared a post about the good things that ensue when you clean out your files, and prolific author C.W. Hawes makes his case against the frenetic pace and shallow characters of modern fiction. Both of these are worthwhile and thought-provoking reads, so click on over and exercise your minds!
For dessert, ease back with Richard Schulte's coverage of a wonderful tribute to a 9/11 hero, then go take a hike with Sandy, a.k.a. Doris the Great as she hikes the 1000-foot mountains behind Lark Bay, Newfoundland, trusty camera in hand.
In Other News...
I guess I could have put the Riding the Blimp news down here, but I wanted you to see it first. I have nothing additional today, so let's establish a parameter before we get to that point. How about if I make Riding the Blimp about things that I personally am involved with, and reserve this section for things like Cons, Book Signings, and the like, whether I'm involved or not? Opinions?
Okay, then, happy hump day. CAMELS, FORWARD, HO!