Monday, May 21, 2007

Spring Training - It's Not Just For Baseball

At the Relief Journal website, there has been an amazing forum created for writers. There are critique groups, blogging abilities, chat's just getting started, but it already has a good dynamic. The forum runners are sponsoring a spring training for the Nanowrimo project, which takes place in November and challenges those participating to write 50, 000 words in one month. I've never participated in Nanowrimo, but I'm thinking that I'll be all done with the current wip and awaiting replies from agents by November, so a jump start on something new will be good. Anyway, the challenge over at Relief is to write 10, 000 words in seven days (the week of June 3rd). I'm going to participate because I feel like my wip will be done by that date and I'll need some major separation from it before going back to make it into a second (ie, better) draft. Plus, it'll be a fun goal to push towards - and knowing that there are others doing the same thing is good motivation. Writers don't often get to feel like they're a part of a team sport, and this gives a bit of that feeling.
For the first stage of this process, we were encouraged to get our writing gear together - our computer of choice, needed notebooks, pens, etc. I'm sharing here the list I put together...(it was a fun list to make, by the way. I definitely encourage all writers to examine their own routines every now and then just so they'll know what they need and have it handy. But, as so many of the great ones have said, don't use an obstructed routine as an excuse to not write. Even if it's with a napkin and a crayon at Ruby Tuesday's, sometimes you just have to do it. Just write. The list is just my own ideal conditions.)

Digital Capture -
I type all of my drafts on my trusty laptop, which has been with me for many moons. It's like a favorite pair of jeans - once you get it broken in, you hope that it lasts forever. I am, however, in the process of convincing my husband that I need one of those sweet Alphasmart devices for the ability to write anywhere and everywhere on a couple of AA batteries (it seems only fair, since he just bought a Playstation 3 :) ).

Software -
Word. Again, I like it because it's familiar. I do back things up with Google docs - even though those files can only hold so much text and I have to split larger projects, it feels safe to have an extra copy online. No matter what happens to the laptop, Google will still stand (I, um, hope.)

Analog capture -
Cheap notebooks with fun covers. I've never been able to freely write in expensive and elegant journals - I can't stop feeling that the better the covers, the more perfect (i.e., inhibited) my writing must be. I also go through a lot of notebooks, because all of my initial drafts are hand-written for the most part - I do my best rewriting as I type. Plus, it can be dangerous to tote a laptop around when there are toddlers catapulting through the air. I also have bound index cards, for random thoughts and scene ideas.

Magic Pen -
This depends on the project. I go through moods. I inserted all of my new scenes for the novel in fine-point magic marker. It just felt like it should be green. For the training session, I picked up a couple of simple ball point pens. Okay to lose, good ink flow if I manage to keep track of them. For the notebook and pens, I have a snazzy white leather purse. It's big enough for the notebook to perfectly fit into it and small enough to throw over my shoulder when I'm leaving the house.

Other things I need to gear up for a good writing session :
At some point in the process, coffee is always a good bet. I think it's more about the routine than the actual coffee itself...there's something comforting about that hot mug in my hands while I'm staring at the screen. It says to my brain - 'Start.'

When my brain slows down and I need some inspiration, I turn to the shelf I've designated for my favorite books, both novels and writing guides. I've found that reading even one chapter of a fabulous novel or a book on craft will get the flame rekindled. (I adore Natalie Goldberg's books on writing for this purpose - even though I don't agree with all of her theology, she puts a fresh spin on aspects of the craft and does it in short chapters. Some of these actually have suggested exercises at the end, which can whip writer's block out of the way.)

And, of course, there's the handy-dandy iPod. I like to use this when my kids are watching a DVD, having one of those contests where they attempt to out scream one another, or Neil is playing aforementioned Playstation 3 at top volume. I generally prefer silence, but to combat noise pollution I have playlists waiting for action.

If you feel like making a list of your own and are willing to share (I like peeking into the writing routines of others - fresh ideas can always, always improve my own process!), let me know - I'll be more than glad to provide a link from here to there.

Happy Monday!

1 comment:

Luisa Perkins said...

Ooooh, Christie, I'm so into this! I'll get right on it. Cool!