Thursday, 21 April 2011

Displacement with Focus - Pardon?

Yotsuba & DecoratingImage by Manic Toys via FlickrI have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks reading about and practising focussing my efforts, mainly on my writing, but the techniques can easily transfer to other part of life. Next Friday is the royal wedding, which I thought a great opportunity for a party. This has morphed into a gown and tiara party and lots of champagne.
Now as many of my friends know, we had a flood in the basement a week before Christmas owing to a frozen pipe in the ground floor loo. Christmas was fun, if a bit character building, having to turn the water on and off as we needed it to prevent more damage. However, the refurb has taken far longer than we thought. We are now a week away from the party and there is still much to do.
I began a romantic suspense short last week and am a third of the way through the 15000 words. I have the beginning. I know the end. And the middle? Ah, yes, the middle. So, today I am taking the day off from my desk, picking up a paintbrush and hoping that in the midst of what is a fairly mundane occupation, some kind of inspiration will thrust its way past my sub-conscious and tell me what the middle of the story is. Wish me luck.
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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Helping Hand

All writers need a helping hand from time to time. I know that for the last couple of months, I have gone through a very lean patch. Displacement activities, procrastination, anything to avoid looking at the screen or notebook. I've always been a proponent of the 'stick your bum in the seat and write' school, so this was confusing. Why was it happening? Did I need a rest and my brain had gone on strike? A crisis of confidence? Laziness? All I wanted to do was either lie in bed looking at the trees and listening to the birds or read.

Time for action. I spoke to professional opera singer Janet Shell about the rise and fall of creativity and what can either help or hinder it. I joined Jurgen Wolff's Massive Action Day and managed 6 hours of concentrated, focussed activity. I bought his book called 'Focus' and read it. It has been a real revelation. There is a wealth of advice including breaking up tasks into small sections, using a timer and committing to work in a focussed way on the chosen subject for the duration. And then, the alter-ego suggestion. Depending on what you are doing, you work out what qualities are needed to perform the task and give that 'person' a name.

So, I am now right out of my comfort zone and trying to write a romantic suspense short - well 15,000 words short. So, I have summoned up 'Auntie Barbara', who is a cracking romantic novelist to help me. She is everything I am not and can deal with a suspension of disbelief that Avril is unable to. The other person who is developing in my mind is the one who wants to jeer when I fail and one who I want to prove wrong. In my head she is called Pansy, the Bitch Queen and no way can I let her win.

So, armed with timed tasks on which to focus, Auntie Barbara and Pansy, I am forging ahead with the story. I wrote 1500 words yesterday and have just plotted out the end. So, hurrah for Auntie Barbara and yah-boo-sucks to Pansy.

You can find tips on Jurgen Wolff's site. It isn't just for writers. The book is available in the usual places. Hope this helps anyone else out there having problems.