Friday, June 25, 2010

keeping a creative journal

About 12 years ago, I added a second journal to my arsenal of creative endeavors. I'd already been journaling daily for a number of years, as I've mentioned here before. While I'd been an on-again/off-again diarist (mostly writing in angst), after I did the Artist's Way, I started doing morning pages each day and it has become an emotional and spiritual practice as well as part of my creative work.

The second journal is what I call my creative journal. It's where I take notes at workshops or lectures, paste in quotes or good ideas, keep track of my thinking about my novels, write prompts or poetry, do lists with my groups. It's a record of the creative work in my life.

I don't use it every day but most days I put something in it, espcially once I started using it as a sort of scrap book.

Other people keep sketching journals or do visual journaling and while I do some of that in other notebooks, especially if I'm traveling, the creative journal is one I've stuck to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

4 hours a day

I spent time collaging with a good friend yesterday. It felt really good to me to be doing something visual and spatial with color after a number of weeks of word work, writing and editing most days of the week for clients. Kathie had recently taken a calligraphy class and an acquaintance was also taking the class. She told Kathie that she had been doing a year-long study with a Master Teacher, who would fly out once a month to work with her group in Salem. The first time they met, the teacher laid out his expectation.

Each of them was to work 4 hours per day on their art and craft. 4 hours per day every day all year. He didn't care whether it was evening or morning or middle of the night, in 1 session or 8 sessions, but they had to put the time in.

Think what we would happen for each of us if we dedicated that amount to our writing, our painting, our tennis, our gardening, our interests. Even if we varied the topic of our four hours, think of what that might mean.

I'd finish my novel this year. I'd write a lot of poetry. I'd finally read the writing books and painting books and creativity books that line 6 of my 8 book shelves. I'd produce a lot of pastels. I'd get good at it. I'd market my books.

I'd probably eat less, watch way fewer Netflix, sleep less. I'd probably work my paid job much more efficiently, do my errands much more efficiently, to keep blocks of time open for creativity.

What might change for you?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In media res

I spent some time reading fellow editor Christine Fairchild's Editor Devil blog yesterday and was struck by the following paragraph:

Of the many techniques I learned from studying film and scriptwriting, my favorite is “enter late, leave early.” This means your scene is really just a middle slice out of a sequence of events (i.e. it does not contain all the events).

I'd been struggling a little with how to explain to a client why the start of his novel was dull and Christine's comments reminded me of something I learned in a literature class early in graduate school. Drop your characters "in media res" was the advice: in the middle of things. Don't give all the background, don't set everything up, don't have the main character get up, brush her teeth, feed the cat, etc., as Christine notes, just drop them into the middle and hook your reader.

My client, I'll call him Steve, has several chapters of background. In and of itself, the historical reasons for the story are quite fascinating but they don't put me in the story itself and that's where I want to be, from page one.