Elizabeth: Blank Slate

img_0996After reading Jilly’s ambitious writing plan for the rest of the year and Nancy’s recent set of posts on creating and executing a writing plan, I’m starting to feel like I need to do a little planning of my own.

In all honesty, I’m also feeling a little envious.

While I spent a large swath of the past several months taking pretty pictures, studying Victorian literature, staring off into space, and turning myself into the economic impact analysis guru at my day job, many of the other Eight Ladies were busy putting words on the page.

Lots of words.

“I’m going to submit this manuscript to this year’s Golden Heart Contest” amounts of words.

That’s a lot of words.

Now that summer vacations are (mostly) over and school is back in session, it’s time for me to turn my gaze away from the lake outside my window and back to my unfinished manuscripts that have consistently refused to write themselves, even when I’ve left copious notes on how the scenes should progress.

In preparation for the re-girding of the writing loins (that sounds a little uncomfortable), I’ve done a little pre-work.

First up was to get my writing space established and ready to go.  Although on the couch with my laptop has been my typical writing spot for quite some time, the comfort factor is outweighed by the proximity to distractions like the television, the kitchen, and the views outside.  Fortunately, I have an actual office/library to write in.  The chair is not nearly as comfortable, but the distractions are minimal and everything I need is within reach.  As a plus, I recently replaced the ancient carpeting with rich hardwood and did some rearranging, so it’s cozy and inviting.

Next up was to take my story boards, scene-by-scene index cards, plot maps, and assorted other book notes and toss them in the recycling bin.  Drastic?  Perhaps, but my three manuscripts (Almost-there, Partially-there, and Barely-there) have all stalled for one reason or another.  I’m hoping that wiping the slate clean and taking a fresh look at the characters and story drafts will help me brainstorm ideas for going forward.  I’m also hoping it will lure the Girls in the Basement back to work.  I’ve already had a few small ideas/revelations; fingers crossed that the ideas keep coming.

My last bit of pre-work was to stock up on necessary writing “supplies.”  While for some that may mean wine or chocolate, for me it means a fully loaded Starbucks card and Krispy Kreme’s in the freezer, because I’m not above a little self-bribery to get those words on the page from time to time.  Also included in my suppliers is the Journeyman Writer Eight-Class Bundle over at Storywonk.com for days when I need a little craft-element refresher or a change of perspective.  Lastly, no writing supply toolkit is complete without a little writing inspiration.  That’s right, I’m talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Nothing like a little Slayer meets Vampire with conflict, attraction, and potential apocalypse to wake up those creative brain cells.   When I’m not distracted by being entertained, it feels like a master class in storytelling.  Each time I watch I learn a little something more.

All right; now that everything is in place it’s time to start writing.  When distractions rear their ugly heads, I’ll combat them with the suggestions from Kay’s recent post on Getting Rid of Distractions – with Science, and the Hamilton Helpless video that Michaeline linked to in her Helplessly in Love post will be the perfect reward for those productive writing days.

So, how is everyone else doing so far?  Still planning or busy writing?

8 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Blank Slate

  1. Holy Cow. You recycled all your story boards, index cards, plot maps and book notes??? Gone forever, no box in the attic just in case? That’s a powerful declaration of intent. Good for you. Can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂 .

    Alexis has been stuck since just before RWA, but last week I finally figured out how to get her unstuck. I’m very happy about my latest revelation and I’m really hoping that will be my last roadblock for awhile. Fingers crossed. I need more writing, less planning, and a lot less banging my head against the desk.

    • Jilly, drastic times call for drastic measures 😀 I’m hoping the blank slate approach will get my brain thinking in new creative directions. A gamble perhaps, but I’m optimistic.

      Congratulations on your own revaluations. Looking forward to hearing more about your story.

  2. Good for you, Elizabeth. You gave yourself a break after your travels and now it’s time to buckle down. I am also reviewing my writing plan. I want to submit to GH and I want to go to RWA, but I won’t let myself unless I have something new (well, renewed) to pitch. Of course, Orlando was the scene of the disastrous meeting with the editor-who-shall-not-be-named. Maybe this time, I’ll have a good one.

    • Michille, good luck on submitting. Hopefully you will be able to wipe out that negative Orlando experience and replace it with a much better one.

      I submitted the last two years, but don’t have that on the agenda this year. Was kind of amused that my GH scores this year were substantially higher this year than last – with the same exact manuscript. Guess that says something about reviewer tastes and preferences.

  3. Now that’s what I call an OMG post! You sure chose a good year to become an economic impact analyst guru! No wonder the Girls in Your Basement are busy!!!! However, a lot of story is underpinned by economics. People may not want to read about this policy or that policy in their fiction (they get enough of it in their newspapers!) but they definitely are fascinated by the impact part and the consequences that follow. What’s the triumvirate of motivation? Sex, money/power and . . . elephants? I can’t remember the real third one. (Ah, googled it. Fame comes up, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the one I was thinking of. Certainly makes sense, but I think it may fall under power.) Anyway, it’s going to be great for your future stories!

    Also, that’s a drastic step of throwing away all your notes and props, but I think it makes some sense. You can work from a place of abundance — you know new ideas will come to replace the old, and they may be flavored by the old work, but they won’t be constrained.

    I’m with you on the “make a space” thing. I’ve got to make a space in my head and make a space in my bedroom (I’ve got a library too, but if I wait until I have a space cleared there, it’ll be 2017, probably).

    The big thing I need to do is to remember that this year, I’m following the girls. I’m writing what they give me. (Hear that, superego?? I’m following the girls still until 2017.)

    • “Sex, money/power and . . . elephants?” – I’m pretty sure those are going to find their way into Friday’s Random Word Improv.

      Good luck to you on your plan to follow the girls. I hope they lead you somewhere wonderful (and lead to stories for us to read).

      • (-: Sex, power and elephants is a Bujold-influenced statement. But I see nothing wrong with using those in the Friday Random Word Improv.

        To unpack the statement, some people just form overwhelming passions for hobbies and shapes and things that are useless, and not sexual in nature. For example, I’ve done some weird stuff in the name of “I’m going to play the ukulele” since I started in December. Ventured into a very sketchy area of San Francisco to buy a travel uke (NO REGRETS! I survived the trip, and I love the uke). I bought two in the States so I wouldn’t have to share, and then wound up bringing the travel uke back with me. If it had been anywhere near a reasonable desire, I would have ridden that bus until it came back to the beginning of its route.

        So many great scientists do absolutely stupid things while in search of a bug, or an atom, or other little bit of trivia (that may turn out to be a building block of the universe). Powerful motivation, and it’s not about sex or money, and not always about power, either.

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