I've been gratified to see, here and there, that some people are trying my "working doc" trick and that it's helping them write. I think of this now as I am deep in my own project, and am so reliant upon the working doc that it is comical to remember I used to try to. . . just write. You know, write Chapter One and start writing, and think that that is how it has to be, word falling after word, neat as dominoes, in a civilized, organized manner like that, the story unspooling in a linear manner, ideas coming just when I need them, just in time to put the next scene in its proper place. Hah!
I've written more extensively about the working doc in Not For Robots, and I just thought I'd mention it briefly here. This is what it looks like. Couldn't be simpler. Two documents open side by side:
On the right, that's my manuscript. Well, that's an old project, not my current manuscript, but you get the idea. And that's mostly where I write. But you know how it happens that you get to the end of a scene, and you have only a vague idea of how to get to the next thing you want to happen? Or worse, you don't know what should happen? I've heard some writers say they write in a kind of magical dream for the first, say 20 pages, or 60 pages, or whatever, of a new project, and then it "fritters away" and is gone? Well. No it doesn't fritter away. It just doesn't exist yet. You were lucky to get that magical dream of 20 or 60 pages so effortlessly. Now the effort begins.
How do you best bring the next scene -- and the next and next -- into existence? Do you sit staring at the screen, tentatively put in a sentence and then delete it, not sure where you're going? You could. That's what I used to try to do. Now I just leap over to that working doc on the left and brainstorm. I ask myself: What now? And I think of a thousand things that could happen next, and consider how they'll fit into the overall arc and what would be most fun to write, most interesting, and I think and think and think -- in writing, always think in writing -- until I feel like I've hit upon a cool next step. And then I write that. And so on. So basic, right?
On the subject of "always think in writing," here's why: it focuses your thoughts, makes them real, black and white before you, and it prevents your mind from wandering to laundry or the movie you saw last night or the neighbor's unsightly trash cans or whatever. It keeps you on mission, and when you stay on mission, your thoughts lead to more thoughts -- more relevant thoughts, that is, not laundry thoughts, and your ideas build and build until you've figured out what you need to figure out. Daydream on paper, on screen. Otherwise the fairies of the air will just steal you thoughts away and give them to someone else. Okay, not really but it's a cool image, huh?
And that is what I have to say about writing for today.
I've downloaded Scrivener (thank you, Mac Leopard), but I haven't done the tutorial yet or tried to switch over to it. I wonder how it might change my working doc process, what new forms and mutations my process might take. We shall see.
So, guess what: it's coming up on time to register for Squam!
photo credit: Blue Poppy
Squam is an awesome arts retreat on a gorgeous lake in New Hampshire, the dreamchild of the fabulous Blue Poppy. I missed out on the first ever session, last fall, and you can see by these pictures of painty smocks and smiling faces what a blast it was, and how beautiful. (click the slideshows on the left.) Now there are two sessions planned for this year, and the Spring session, June 3-7, has a focus on fiber arts, with some really cool classes which you can look at HERE. It's not only fiber arts, there are some painting classes too, but there's stuff like Block-Printing on Fabric, Printing with Botanical Designs, making really cute, creative dolls, felting, and lots of knitting. If you're a knitter interested in a gorgeous retreat with kindred souls, luscious yarns, and new techniques, check it out.
The Fall session, September 16-20, offers art and craft classes, many of which have a word-oriented angle, like incorporating poetry into art and text into jewelry-making, and a class on songwriting, and another on elements of story. Very cool classes, HERE.
I hope you'll check it out. What a wonderful creative gathering!
And speaking of wonderful creative gatherings, I'm having a bit of a drool about this trip that I am not taking, to the country I am most desiring to go to right now. Well, shoot. It's a pdf download so I can't link directly to it, but you MUST see it, so go to THIS POST at one of my favorite blogs, Maryam in Marrakesh, and scroll to the middle, by the picture of the smiling ladies on the stairs, and click where it says "If so read this." Really. Go there. Click it. And see what I wish I could be doing next week.
Multiple shopping trips in the souks of Marrakesh with Maryam, shopping goddess extraordinaire. Plus, learning decorative painting techniques from masters like Melanie. Oh. Oh my. Sigh.