Friday, September 01, 2006

WC2006 Panel Notes: The Care and Feeding of the Creative Process

Panelists: James Stanley Daughterty, Stephen Leigh, Laura Ann Gilman (moderator.)
This panel, as great as it was, lacked certain illuminations. Some personal notes have been added to elaborate, since the panelists had a limited time.

• Don't wait for your muse, go out and get it.
I find a Metaphorical Net to be useful. My muse's stupid tweaky ears get caught in it every time. Works great. Just open the coffee ground canister to lure him over....

• Deadlines can be muses.
Thus, set some for yourself. This would be why I have a schedule of when each chapter must be completed by, and a final completion date for the draft. After all, we who aren't sold or contracted yet don't have publisher-imposed deadlines.

• Writer's block is two things: fear and distraction.
A lot of writer's fear success almost as much as they fear rejection. So "oh, I have a creative block" becomes a subconscious excuse not to have to finish anything. After all, if nothing is finished, then you have no risk of having to do anything with it.

•Logistic issues can also cause blocks.
Is there something wrong or inconsistent that you've consciously forgotten? Go back and reread/revision what you have written in order to check. But don't fall into the trap of endless revision! Remember the key is finishing something.

• Write something—anything. Remember nothing is set in stone: that's why it's called a "draft."
Also, write something every day. Even if it's just two paragraphs. Even if it's only for 15 minutes. Writing everyday builds a writing habit.

• Blockage can also happen when you subconsciously write yourself into a corner.

• Keep visual stimulation coming in.
Go outside. Read a book. Watch a movie. Talk to your friends. We write from what we know, and if we don't keep the well of inspiration filled we run the risk of draining it dry.

• Set up boundaries with the people you live with and yourself. When are you working? When are you not working? Do you have visual clues to establish this?

• Have a ritual that determines when you're working.

• Play music—tell yourself you have to write until the playlist/CD runs out.

• Know thyself: know how you work and what distracts/interrupts that flow.
For example, with FH I made the switch from nighttime writer to daytime writer. I found it was better for me to get up and accomplish as much of my job as I could before writing, and that I did best when I didn't write before trying to sleep. It allowed my brain to calm and I had a more restful night. I know that DiR is a terrible distraction, so I do my entries before I start writing for the day. This year I learned to turn off my email and IM before starting to write.

• Being a writer involves necessary selfishness.
You have to make the time to write, regardless of family and friends trying to engage you.

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