Monday, July 24, 2017

TWIC: at camp, Microsoft Word, grit, balance, planning

I start my This Week In Creativity roundups the day after the previous one is posted. So I am writing this on Tuesday the eighteenth. Between now and the time this is posted I will start work at an ESL and science camp. I really can't say if this will be a shorter post than usual or not.
Encouraging grit and imagination in the classroom. This sounds like the perfect post for me. Actually the Sci-Am link starting this paragraph only describes the videos and idea.  The videos are at Imagination Institute and look to be a version of TED talks.
Using Microsoft Word to write a book? Among book snobs, the idea is nearly revolutionary. The industry standard is probably Scrivener or the like. But Tallulah Lucy defends Word.

My trilogy is currently sitting at 316,078 words, which amounts to 732 Microsoft Word pages. It’s all in a single doc.
I’m not saying that to impress anyone (it still needs to be edited down!). Only because a few people I’ve chatted to seem to think that you need some fancy writing software to write anything of that length. I actually find Word really easy to use, and it’s all because a few years ago I figured out how to structure a document for a novel.
Here’s what I do, and hopefully it can help you too.
1. Navigation Pane
Under “View” on the main menu, check “Navigation Pane”. This is the key to the entire thing. The Navigation Pane allows you to view the document by headings, pages or by search results. The headings is the important thing, as you will be able to navigate directly to each heading by clicking on it.
2. Scrap yard and Marker
The first thing I type is Scrap Yard, the second is Marker. Both of these should be on their own lines and set to Heading 1. You will find Heading 1 under Styles on the Home tab of the main menu. Then they show up in the Navigation Pane. You want to start typing your novel above this.
3. Using headings to structure the novel
Something that I know I vastly underestimated when I started writing was how much time I’d spend skipping back to check stuff. Whether it’s a character name, a piece of dialogue or what the hell happened in That One Scene, I do it at least three times in every writing session.
Now for each section of a story that I write, I will use headings so that I can easily find that part again.
I offer links to various archives and collections of public domain art and such in these posts. As they are public domain, one can snip and mix and match to make new art. For someone with my shaky hands, this is a better option than drawing new stuff. Anyway, the following archive is not public domain, I think, but is another example of barely restrained creativity; 25 or more years of Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine are in Archive dot org.
Balancing work and life, and hustle

And Sergio Pereira on a writing and life balance:
That said, there are moments when I need to breathe. This week, for example, I had one of those flustered, overwhelming feelings. You know, that feeling where you ask yourself what you are doing with your life. It bums you out and you start to think negatively about stuff, which makes matters even worse.
Mental health isn’t a joke. If you’re feeling down, it’s your brain telling you that something is wrong and you need to fix it. Burning out won’t impress anyone and does more damage than good in the long run. Learn to listen to the signs that your mind and body emit and respect that balance is needed. Trust me, sometimes delaying that piece of writing by a week or a month will be worth more than completing it right now.

Should you plan your story ahead or not? Every attempt I have made to writing a book has stumbled to a halt roughly 80~90% in with no clear idea of how to wrap it up. This is true for stories that I had excellent plans for (plans until the end, of course) and for stories I made up from the start with no pre-planning.
The question of whether or not to plan, and how much planning to do, is a particularly weighty one when it comes to novel writing. Because novels are heavily reliant on structure, and because they are such a massive undertaking by any measure, outlining might seem both practical and necessary—a way to make the abyss of the blank page feel a little bit less … well, abyss-like.
But is outlining actually necessary? Of course not.
When it comes to writing a novel, the only thing that is necessary is actually, you know, writing it. How you get there is entirely up to you. But should you outline?
Though advice often comes in the form of absolutes (you must write every day; you must show, not tell; you must kill your darlings), I’m wary of them under any circumstances, and I think they’re especially useless when it comes to process. While not knowing how to proceed is a very common problem, the particular psychological hurdles of starting (let alone finishing) a project are individual. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
The tiny bit of wood carvin experience I have informs me that a fairly solid plan is necessary before starting. I can't just whittle your way into an interesting carving. I need a few pictures and diagrams and measurements before blade touches wood.
John Grisham offers writing advice.
Quantity eventually create quality.

No comments: