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bear by san

March 2017



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writing gorey earbrass unspeakable horro

might as well get used to it.

I keep trying to rearrange my process so that I work slowly and steadily and in some kind of sensible, sustainable fashion. And you know, I might as well just give up. My work pattern is to sprint like a mad thing and then flop around and think for a month, and I might as well get used to it.

Of course, this is not comforting when there are deadlines looming, but I think I have enough time for some staring at the walls trying to figure out how this book goes.

Part of the problem with the fallow time is that it really needs to be fallow time. Which is to say, time spent doing other things--especially things involving other people--doesn't count. It takes good, old-fashioned introversion, staring at the walls and chewing the ends of my hair, a la Mr Earbrass. Well, actually, I doubt very much that Mr Earbrass did very much hair-chewing, not having very much hair. But he has a moustache. He can chew that.

Long walks count. Long drives count. Time spent at the gym does not. Apparently, there needs to be changing scenery, and things I need to pay some attention to. (Famously, after a four-day drive across country, I once sat down and wrote an entire novel, from beginning to end, in about twenty days. It's amazing what processing time is good for.)

It's something to do with the interface of conscious and subconscious mind, or left and right brain, instinct and craft, and how they have to spitball a story back and forth between the two of them to make it come together. It's, you know, part of the whole post-novel ennui thing. Writing is self-exhaustive, and when you have exhausted it, the next batch has to come from somewhere. And it's like soup: if you try to rush it, you just get crap.

In the spirit of that, I've decided to give myself the rest of the month to try to get to a point where I'm behind the pile of words again, rather than having outrun it. This is probably going to mean mad deadline racing later in the spring and in early summer, but hey, such is life. And really, I am about due for a serious introvert fit and some time in the cushion fort behind the couch, anyway.

So, here I sit, bored. Bored bored bored bored bored. And unable to focus on anything, which means more livejournal spam for you!

The bored is actually good news. Bored is like fertilizer for stories.


I believe it's more the cycle itself that generates the ideas and keeps us healthy — the alternating between change and stability, yin and yang. The trick is balancing them just perfectly, so that you push the pendulum just enough to make it generate enough movement to keep you interested, but not so much that it makes you tired. The healthy range.
I believe it's more the cycle itself that generates the ideas and keeps us healthy — the alternating between change and stability, yin and yang.

Right. We call this bipolar disorder where we're from Grasshopper.
*does not make comparisons to ruminant herbivores*
Yes yes yes to all that.
I like them a lot. They're goofy and brutal.

It's a good combination.

Sort of part of the stylistic cloud with the Barenaked Ladies and yeah, TMBG.
*nods* I am learning about these sorts of things, myself. I came up with the idea for the novel I've just finished in June, but needed to think about it until *ahem* November before I was anywhere near ready to write it. Then I wrote the first draft in about 5 weeks, revised it in another couple of weeks... then tried to write a new novel starting on 1st Jan but my brain is like mush.

I think I need a bit more fallow time... :)
I know you get this quite a bit, but -- I needed to hear this today. Gracias.
Hey. *g* It's why I'm here.
I've discovered that I'm at my most productive when I'm in a panic, but my most insightful when I'm not. This means that, if I need to do both, it requires that I schedule my panic pretty closely, and then I do fourteen- to sixteen-hour days of mad typing, punctuated by twenty minute breaks where I go outside or up on the roof to pace, smoke, and talk to myself.

I'm sure that I must seem like a crazy person to anybody who sees me doing this pacing back and forth and muttering to myself, but I completely tune them out and focus, because that's where the best ideas have come from. Couple hours of beating my head against something, I need to remember to take a walk, and the answer almost always comes. My team at work makes fun of it, but they understand. I have actually said, during a meeting about a difficult problem, "Hang on, lemme get back to you in about ten minutes. I have to go outside-", pace pace pace pace pace pace *DING!* "...okay, here's the answer:..."

They look at me funny when I do this.

The other great problem-solving strategy is drawing the problem on the whiteboard. I have a 4'x8' whiteboard in both my office at work and my garage at home. I recommend it. It's probably better for you than pacing, smoking, and talking to yourself, too. And nobody will look at you funny.
I had a big shiny whiteboard in Vegas.

Here, my office is also my living room, and there's not a lot of room....

But yeah, getting that space to let the hindbrain do the work makes all the difference.
'Can't make a meal out of an empty cupboard' is how I explain it.

Sometimes I have to re-stock, which involves ooh shiny ideas or pictures or places. Sometimes I just need to let stuff simmer.

It is what it is.

I'm going to be getting in some prime cupboard filling time here, as Himself needs to be at the coast for work early next week. I got our favorite room at the best little mom and pop motel for two nights and I'm going to sit in an easy chair and stare at the ocean for hours. I'm wavering on whether or not I'll take the laptop.
Leave the laptop home. Bring a notebook. *g*
I suspect that principle work for any problem-solving activity. At least for scientifically-heavy software development this thing work. Taking some time - from half-day to couple of days - off the work - reading, walking (walking works best of all for me) and problem often mysteriously solve itself. Difficult to find bugs just pop up and prominently asking for attention, complete algorithms present themself in comprehensible form or at least direction become clear. However this trick couldn't be used too often - it would still work, but to concentrate on the job would become progressively more difficult. Also switching to other project, paperwork, or any kind of work doesn't count as off-time.
Nope. It doesn't. It's gotta be switching the processing to another part of the brain--the, you know, unwordy part. Which is actually where most of the power is; it's just hard sometimes for it to get the neocortex to listen, because it's so busy jawing away up there....
So which novel was that that you wrote in 20 days?

And the answer is obvious, you need to drive to Manitoba.. Or North Carolina
By the Mountain Bound
It's something to do with the interface of conscious and subconscious mind

Yes, and the balance between them is unique for each author. Finding your ideal balance - which it seems both of us are trying to do - is key.

My writing partner probably couldn't be more conscious about writing. She puts a lot of *work* into her words and spends a great deal of time actively thinking about her stories. I, on the other hand, amuse myself with whatever non-writing activities I feel like doing until the story gets delivered ready to go from my subconscious mind. Clearly I could stand to be more conscious about my writing (and I'd like to) and she's trying to relax her work ethic and learn to play and allow flow into her life.

What I am trying to figure out is how to *direct* the inspiration towards projects that have deadlines and not into new projects that make me go "Ooh! Shiny!" and run to them. As a working author it's even more critical for you to stay on point when you do write so I'm interested in seeing more on this topic from you.

I remember reading some scientific research a while back explaining why taking showers and driving a car were good opportunities for inspiration. I don't remember much about it, but the idea was that you had a fairly simple primary task that prohibited you from any other meaningful activity so you were free to allow the rest of your brain to take time off. Freed from the normal multitasking of life, the brain was allowed to let creativity bubble up to the surface, giving us ideas the normal chatter of everyday thoughts rarely allows through.

My big epic universe was daydreamed up on a series of agonizingly long train commutes. I wrote a bunch of it using the thumb keyboard of my PDA because I was so enraptured by the idea once it hit me I barely noticed the commutes any longer. When it rains it pours, the saying goes, but I no longer look at the dry spells as unfortunate or unwanted. It may take a while for the water tank to fill back up again, but it's not time wasted.

As a kid I daydreamed a lot. As an adult I now know how important that time is and I make time to daydream.

At least that way I'm not soaking wet when the ideas come to me. ;-)

I need water.

I know what you mean. I find that for some reason, I get really productive when I'm near (or in) water. I guess my muse really does like long walks on the beach.

And my gf is sick to death of me coming out of the shower saying "I just had a great idea..."

Hrm, seeing as how my current project is tying me in knots, maybe I should go to the beach this weekend.
Fallow is a really good word to describe it. Guess the Muse needs time off to replenish itself too.

Meantime, there's plenty on thar intarweb to explore. I've been grooving on the eye-popping images of 5 unbelievably cool research facilities and others at deputy-dog.com
Yeeeees. I've often felt that one of the major problems with my life is that I no longer have any time to get bored.

Non-word/story-related activity.

Playing with photoshop sometimes helps me. Because it's creative but not narrative-focused.
I wondered where you were!

Longhand is good, though - especially for scrawling and not looking at the words too much.

I hope the shoulder's better today.
That would be that post-novel ennui thing we talk about....
I am about due for a serious introvert fit and some time in the cushion fort behind the couch, anyway.

Hee - I really love time spent in the cushion fort.