Accepting the Pants

In the planning phase, I can always see everything so clearly.  I get to know the characters I’m going to write about. I can just see my settings, feel the feelings and ambiences I want to evoke. I can see how my characters will change trough the story, and what major revelations they will have. But then… Then it’s time for the nitty gritty.

Figuring out exactly how all of this happens; the details; everything between the cool bits that will tie everything together. God how I hate it!

This is also the place where I often loose my magic. I can’t figure everything out, so I take a break. When I’m on my break I have fun. I think of other things. I read, listen to or watch other stories. And when I get back to my story… I’ve lost my connection to it and any desire to continue it. I’ll often have a new and shiny idea that I want to write about instead.

This is a pattern for me, more so really than I care to admit. I have a thousand discarded stories. When I find them again, I can’t understand why I didn’t continue writing them. Then I’ll usually try to pick them up again, change a few things around to make it work better. And then… I have to get those details down again, and the cycle continues.

So how do I break it? I could just sit myself down, dedicate a weekend and get those details down. But I think I stumbled upon a solution last summer when I panted my way trough a first draft of a story. Granted, the draft was horrible, almost unusable. But I stuck with it, and now I can’t get that story out of my head. I’ve been churning it around in my head for almost a year now. Not constantly, of course, but regularly. And I think I have found solutions to many of the problems with it.

So, am I a pantser? I have always thought of myself as a planner. I’ve even thought of pantsing as a lazy copout. And here I am. The most successful I’ve ever really been in writing has been by panting.

Perhaps its a matter of hours invested? Time spent in this imaginary world of mine? It has taken a lot of time for me to process this. I’ve reached this conclusion before, but I haven’t really accepted it. But now, almost a year later, perhaps I can get to terms with being a pantser?

Dreams

We all dream of something. No matter where we are in life. We all have a sense of desire for something, wether that is within the professional sphere, the personal, or both. But when do we allow our dreams breathing room?

I’ve been a dreamer all my life. When I was little, I dreamt all day long. I didn’t care about how rational my dreams where, just how likely they where to come true. Back then, my dreams where just wonderful in themselves, they existed as a part of me and gave me fuel and courage. Not to pursue them, really, there was just something about letting this other dimension of dreams exist inside my mind that helped me not to be so worried about what went on around me.

Escapist? Perhaps, but also the source of many of the thoughts and feelings, about myself and the world, that has formed me into the person I am to day. I think the freedom I allowed my mind trough dreaming as a child has helped me step out of my own shoes, and limited experience, and made me more open minded and imaginative.

I don’t dream like I used to, though. I expect that’s just natural for a person as they grow up. But I do miss the freedom of my mind back then. I miss the way I would entertain thoughts so freely and not feel like I had to justify what went on in my own mind. I miss it, and I think that it is something valuable that I’ve lost.

That’s not to say it can’t be found again once lost. But for now, I miss it.

The Glow

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in to-do lists and external obligations that I loose… it. The inner feeling that practically glows in my chest when I cultivate my inner world. I don’t know if this is something others can relate to, but I think it probably is. Perhaps you don’t exactly feel a glow, but I think most people have experienced that feeling of being completely in line with one self.

I get this feeling when I spend time in my own company, consume media that is in line with this feeling, or make the space around me nice. There are certain books that I have taken so completely in as part of my experience that, when I read them, they immediately light this glow inside of me. Although sometimes I experience this with completely new books as well, that just fall in line with this feeling. On the flip side, there are things that I feel suck that glow right out of me.

This glow is also linked with my creativity. And I feel that: whenever I loose this feeling, I can’t make anything right. What I write can be alright or even good, but it won’t have that spark… It won’t be a product of me in the same way as the things I write when I feel that glow.

I don’t know if this might be a little spaced, but I realize this again and again whenever I try to squeeze inn some writing in a hectic schedule. I have to find my glow again and again, re-centering myself and clearing out all the influences that dims it. I feel like I’m getting better at finding this feeling, but I still loose it regularly and have to find it again.

Moving Ahead

When we can’t see where we’re going, we naturally veer slightly to the right. That way we go in a big circle and end up at the place we started, and we won’t get lost. Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been walking in circles like this (metaphorically, of course). And I think it has to do with a lack of focus and not being able to see a goal.

In September I had quite a lot of projects, and I would work on (almost) all of them when I felt like it. The result was that I got exhausted from splitting my attention between school, writing and other activities. In the end I just ran between the tasks that demanded my attention, and my creative projects rarely made the top of that list.

Honestly I don’t feel like I have that much to show for September, at least I don’t feel like it is proportional to the amount of effort and energy I’ve spent. And so I feel like I’ve walked in a circle: I have covered a great distance, but without actually getting anywhere.

This month though, I want to be more goal-oriented. One thing I wanted to do is to write for my blog… et voila! I hope better planning on my part will help me prioritize and make progress in the things I want to do. Last month, I had a great many things I wanted to do, but I hadn’t set actual goals for any of it. So I want to set goals for this month that are realistic, and tangible. And hopefully I will be able to move forward in the month of October.

Cloudy With a Chance of Brainstorm

I haven’t been the best at posting here lately. It’s not that I haven’t been able to creative lately, it’s the opposite. I’ve been exploring story-ideas, plots and characters. Where I live, mushrooms are popping up overnight right now because of the rain, and ideas have been popping into my head.

On one hand I welcome this: I think exploring new ideas and putting characters, settings and plots together is the most fun in the writing process. It’s so free, and there are no established rules yet. I can also just go after whatever I think is the most fun without focusing so much on the “serious” stuff. I just have to put something together that really makes me want to write and find out more.

On the other hand, it can get a little overwhelming and difficult to focus my mind. There is so much going on that I can’t quite focus on one thing. But really, the good outweigh the bad by a mile.

The Importance of Incentive

It’s difficult to get anything done. Especially if you don’t really have to. I spent so many years thinking of different stories, writing a chapter or perhaps a first act and then putting it down when the going gets tough.

Even now: I planned to work on my second draft this September and October, but this is September 6th, and I haven’t even started. I wrote the first draft during camp nanowrimo this summer, and it was all for that lovely little graph on my page. Each time It’s such a small thing, but it worked, I’m both delighted and ashamed to say. Is that really all that was needed? A visual aid?

I guess the key is that it is external, and it is what it is no matter what. If I have written 1000 words, I have written 1000 words. No more, no less. I think that gives me an anchor to reality. When writing you really have to get into your own head, and it is easy to get lost in there. Ideas that I’d rather write come from nowhere, I spend hours thinking of names for places or characters, and I fuss over details.

But having to keep a move on helps me get out of that rut. I can’t spend two hours on figuring out what this walk-on characters name is, I just have to call him Bob and keep going. But then September comes, and I realize that Bob isn’t a good name for this character. I don’t have much experience with revision, so I don’t really know how to find that carrot or stick to keep me moving.

Inspiration

Where do you get your inspiration? And how important is it? Creativity and the artist has long been connected in peoples minds by this misty veil of mystery. Inspiration is seen as a sudden flash of genius that will rocket your art into existence. This idea is beautiful bu it can also be detrimental to aspiring artists who spend all their time staring out a window, waiting for that flash of inspiration.

The trend nowadays seem to shift more towards demystifying inspiration, and placing a lot more value on the actual work of creating. The nitty gritty: techniques, developing a routine, helpful equipment and so on… This sort of environment among people and online has helped me a lot in developing and in my attempts at disciplining myself. I’m not afraid of the mystery of the artist. I feel like “the artist” as a concept is beginning to be more like the greeks concept of a painter or a poet: a craftsman. Simply someone who’s good at their craft. A part of me really like that idea: creating things out of thoughts, feelings and impressions like a potter might make a vase.

I do think inspiration is very important to, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like it is more of a continuous thing, the process of living is the same as finding inspiration: Meeting people and talking to them, taking in new impressions trough art, nature, philosophy or science. And as I work more and more like that potter making a vase, these experiences turn into material for new stories.