Elizabeth: And Now for Something Completely Different

Cooper thinks puns are hilarious.
Photo credit: Scott Eldridge

I’ve been reading a lot of “different for me” books lately, most randomly picked from the “Lucky Draw” shelf at the local library, which houses an ever-changing assortment of popular books, generally best sellers or book-club picks – things I normally would avoid like the plague.  The one I just finished was Less (winner of the Pulitzer Prize) by Andrew Sean Greer.  It’s the story of a novelist, about to turn fifty, who accepts a raft of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world in order to avoid his boyfriend’s wedding.

There was one specific little bit that really stuck with me after I had finished reading.  At one point in the story, the novelist – Arthur Less – is teaching a writing seminar in Germany.  His rather unconventional methods include “he cuts up a paragraph of Lolita and has the young doctoral students reassemble the text as they desire”, “he gives them a page of Joyce and a bottle of White-Out”, and he has them “write a persuasive opening sentence for a book they have never read”.  The result is not that they learn anything about literature but, they get something better:

“They learn to love language again, something that has faded like sex in a long marriage.”

As I read that I thought, I’d have loved that class. Continue reading

Nancy: Week 3 of the Plan: Applying the Math

The good news: the math required to build your writing schedule will be much easier than this!

The good news: the math required to build your writing schedule will be much easier than this!

What I’m about to tell you could get my ‘writer card’ revoked, but I’m going to say it anyway. I love math. I love the elegance of a descriptive equation and the joy of solving a complex problem. And spreadsheets with built-in math functions – you know how I love  spreadsheets! So this week as we discuss our Big Plan for writing, we’re going to break it down with some fundamental math. But not to worry if you’re not a math geek. There will be no hard problems, no pop quizzes, and not even spreadsheets (unless you really want them).

In week 1 of the plan, we discussed setting writing goals and aspirations for a year or two or five. (Improving craft and/or publishing? Traditional, self, or hybrid publishing? Novels, novellas, short stories? Series or standalones?) In week 2 of the plan, we started looking at the building blocks necessary to reach those goals and laying them out on a high-level schedule of weeks or months per task, considering all the steps that go into creating a book, the additional steps and time required for self-publishing, and the mysterious black hole that is the timeline for traditional publishing.

At that time, I asked you to think as objectively and critically as you could about your own capabilities in meeting your schedule, and cautioned you to pad that sucker like an Olympic fencer. This week, let’s take a look at a week-by-week approach to writing, apply our metrics, and figure out if the math works. Sounds like fun, right? Trust me, it won’t be as painful as you think. Continue reading

Nancy: Week 1 of the Plan: The Big Picture

Woman With a PlanA few weeks ago here at 8LW, I threw out a challenge to come back to the blog over the next few months to work out and discuss writing plans and goals not just for your current WIP or the next few months, but for the next year or two (or five). This week, we’re going to start that exercise by going big.

Like many of us, you might tend to keep your head down, focus on the WIP in front of you, and if you’re feeling particularly well-organized, set a deadline for yourself to finish it. This is a good and noble thing. This might be the only plan you need right now. But today  I encourage to step back from the WIP and think about the big picture. For the moment, let’s just call it your writing career, or at least the next few years of it.

Question and Explore. What is your ‘place’, your destination? Where do you want to be as a writer and a creative soul a year from now? Two years? Five? Before you answer, take some time to really consider this. Drill down into this goal. Let each question you answer lead to more questions. Continue reading