Perfect is the Enemy of Good

So, I missed a blog entry yesterday, and I’m extremely late with this one.  Sorry about that, but I’m in the midst of grading and working on assignments for school.

One thing that I have to really work on for next semester is my ability to actively plan and execute my projects, be they academic, professional, writing, or personal.  I fill like that I have a lot of projects on the “fire,” but like a poor chef, I’m not really all that good with managing and prioritizing what needs to get done.  The net result are days like today, with wasted productivity and me in mental anguish about all the things that need to get done, instead of actually doing those things.

My goal, I guess, needs to be not worrying so much about making something “perfect,” but rather on completing it and making it at least good in the sense that is finished and then I can use revision as necessary to make it perfect.  The stress that I feel from trying to make something perfect could be better utilized to actually finishing the piece (whatever it may be) and gaining satisfaction in that way.

Well, I’ve defined the problem and proposed a possible solution.  Now all that remains is to execute the strategy and see how works in action in the real world.  So, while NaNoWriMo was a complete bust for me and I’m slowly sinking under weight of grading and assignments, I need focus on completing one task at a time and the rest will take care of itself.  And that’s why you’re getting this blog post–even as ridiculously late as it is–because I’m trying to complete one task after another today with hopes that I will be successful at, if not eliminating, at least minimizing the mountain of assignments and tasks that have accumulated over the past weeks.  Wish me luck!

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Entering the “Flow”

Trying to find time to write (even these short blog entries) has been challenging this week.  It has been difficult because of all the time constraints, myriad of school responsibilities and life events that have interfered with writing.  But even more disruptive has been the loss of the “Flow,” that I found on Saturday, but haven’t seen again since.

Now, apparently there is a TED Talk describing the “Flow,” but full disclosure, I haven’t seen it.  I just caught the last part of a NPR episode on it.  In a nutshell, the “Flow” is humans operating at their Peak Performance for a time (usually short).  In sports, it has long been known as the “Zone,” or “being in the Zone.”  It is when we humans get so caught up in the activity that we are doing that we transcend ourselves and create something or do something that borders on the miraculous.

Saturday, I had the “Flow.”  I wanted to completely rough draft out the rest of the basic story of Project Children so that I could work on a scene a week (really I wanted to do a scene a day, but with all of the work I have to do, a more realistic option would be a scene a week).  I completely wrote out a strong draft on Saturday and it didn’t take me anytime.

Well, today was the first day I had time to try to write a scene and everything conspired to keep me out of the “Flow.”  I couldn’t find my notebook where I’d written down the rough draft and I had to clean up to find it.  When I finally found it, I had to stop and work on something else, and one thing led to another and here I am, still haven’t written another word on the story even though it is literally pencilled in my notebook.  I can’t find the “Flow” all of a sudden.  I really need to work on this if I want to write that novel. I have to find a way to find the “Flow’ daily, otherwise all the planning in the world isn’t going to help me get a novel written in this next year.

Not Enough Time

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Image Source: Lifehack.org

So this will be a (much) shorter than usual blog post, but readers may realize that I missed a blog post yesterday.  Simple answer: too much work for class.  I did all my readings, but I needed to post a response to the readings on the class discussion board.  That response (written at breakfast time) took up all my time and I had no time left for writing a blog entry.  Sorry about that.

Time just seems to get away much quicker than I realize on days that I have class.  I’ve tried alarms, notifications, even SIRI to help me be more productive, but sometimes the readings take longer than I anticipate or sometimes it takes longer to write the responses.

Perhaps if I dictate my blog entries as I’m preparing breakfast, then I won’t have to lose that “creation” time if I still have something else to work on in the morning (I try to only have the blog to work on in the morning, if possible) as I can only seem to complete one or two writing tasks while doing my morning routine.  Perhaps as I struggle through this summer course, I’ll find a process that works for me creatively and consistently.

 

Working Smarter, Not Harder

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Source: Lifehack.org

 

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

As I work to perfect my “Work-Life” Balance, I have found that I haven’t been utilizing my time and resources as effectively as I could and this blog entry details some of the ways in which I have developed to address this imbalance.  In 2015, I wrote a lot, but did not maximize the submissions part of my writing.  In 2016, I wrote a little, but I really focused on the submissions aspect, and did not really focus as much on my writing.  This year, I’ve tried to focus on both, but the amount of schoolwork has limited my ability to really write creatively, as you can see through the lack of blog entries that I have posted this year.  So, I had fallen back to prioritizing submissions as a way to still feel connected with the creative writing part of my life.

STEPPING STONES

However, after recently dusting off an older story that was already published and sending it to a market that accepts reprints, I realized that I already have a cache of material, that with a little reworking, that I can use as “stepping stones” to create longer, and more lucrative works.  Ship of Shadows (SoS) is a story that I created, submitted and was published in Visions IV: Space Between Stars.  I have detailed its genesis in this blog entry.  I am really proud of this story, but rather than try to reprint it in other Visions IVanthologies/markets (although I totally could as the rights have reverted back to me), I wondered if there was a way to “expand” upon it in some way, and to make it longer and more in-depth.  In other words, was there a way that I could revise (“re-vision”) the story and take the same “kernel” of the story, but “re-see” it in a new, longer form work?  I then began to brainstorm what that would look like.  First, I would need to know what longer form work is it that I’m envisioning.  The options that I would be interested in working on at the moment are graphic novels, screenplays, and novels.  In my mind, the next logical stepping stone up from a short story is the graphic novel–it is short enough to be read in one sitting (in many cases), but tells a more elaborate story.  I already know that the characters, setting, and plot are strong because it was published (& something an editor paid to publish), so why not work smarter and try to “build” upon a structure that I already know has the potential for success?  So I am currently working on outlining the graphic novel version of SoS.  I am hopeful that I will be able to write a strong rough draft from my outline during my Summer Break.  I will, of course, be detailing its construction in this blog.

MAXIMIZING FREE TIME

Okay, look, I’m a PhD student.  My days are jam-packed with reading, teaching, reading, working, reading, writing (academic), reading, grading, reading, reading, reading . . . you get the picture.  Heck, even as I type these very words, I have a 5-7 page paper to complete and an annotated bibliography to start, so my time is precious to me.  This, unfortunately, means that creative writing has gotten the short shrift during the past two semesters.  I realize, however, that I have a lot of time (free) built into my days that I’m not utilizing in a very productive way.  On those days where I’m “free” (i.e., no classes, I should take an hour as I’m eating to simply write on the current draft that I’m working on).  On the days I have to “work” (i.e., days where I have classes or academic commitments, I should simply outline/rough draft future works).  That way, I’m always working on something current and will be ready for those extended “Breaks” (Summer & Winter) when I can devote my full time and resources to the things that I’ve outlined or rough drafted.  On weekends, my time should be used for preparing submissions.  If I can somehow achieve and maintain this balance, I think my writing production and my satisfaction with the writing process will improve immensely.

Well, that’s all I have time for this week.  I’ve got assignments to write, papers to grade, and books to read, so I’ll sign off.  Here’s hoping you have a successful week, and with luck, hopefully I’ll have a successful writing week as well.