The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Still working on Project Bee-man this week. I’ve been stuck on a particular scene for a few days, unable to get past it, which is usually a sign that there’s a problem earlier in the draft that makes the current action unbelievable or narratively weak. The fact that I’ve let it bog me down, to the point that my brain is starting to noddle around on other projects and focus on admin-stuff, is probably a sign that ploughing on through has probably stopped being the best approach and it’s time to start looking at the previous scenes to figure out what needs to change.

What’s inspiring me this week?

My major narrative consumption this week has been The Defenders, which is a somewhat welcome return to form after the disappointment that was Iron Fist. It’s fascinating to look at this through the lens of series, as it’s the pay-off for all sorts of things that have been set up in prior Netflix series for half the characters. To see them take things that have been central to Iron Fist and Daredevil, then weave them into the storylines of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage which tend to be more self-contained and stand-alone, is the kind of narrative challenge that very few writers are ever going to face outside of comics-style, shared-world narratives.

I’m also impressed with the cinematography. One of the strengths of the Netflix series has always been their look and the colour schemes, and that doesn’t go away now that they’re an ensemble. Scenes focused on a particular character share the visual motifs of their original series, and when they start interacting the colour palates are blended in interesting ways. It’s a nice consideration that impacts on the way we read the story without being overt.

What action do I really need to take?

I’ve outlined one in my weekly plan, but that’s kinda secondary this week. What absolutely needs to start happening is putting some focus on refilling the well again, as most of my media consumption this week has been He-Man cartoons and old pro-wrestling episodes. I’ll be sitting down today and outlining some overt consumption goals, identifying a handful of books/shows/movies to consume over the coming week.

When In Doubt, Start

I’m sitting at my desk thinking I should probably write something, but it is a chaotic kind of morning on a chaotic kind of day, and my brain is focusing on everything but the task at hand.

I keep projecting into the future, looking at all the things that need to get done in order to finish off any given project. Even when I sit down and apply the various management tasks that are meant to stop you doing that – Getting Things Done, the Pomorodo Technique – I am still projecting forward and the resistance is building up and the subtle, low-key panic of so-much-to-do-and-I-am-not-enough builds up.

My conversations with my psychologist often revolve around the fact that my brain is not my friend, and it’s surprising how often they’re the one telling me that despite the fact that get your fucking brain out of the process has been my writing mantra for years. I’m meant to take a deep breath when this happens. I’m meant to focus my attention on starting something, instead of getting lost in the mire of a distant, unknown quantity that is finishing.

This seems simple, but it’s not. Most people’s lives are a melange of competing priorities, but the moment you engage in any kind of creative work you’re likely to find yourself becoming a hybrid of competing jobs and tasks. On any given week I’m trying to balance long-form fiction work, my short story drafts, my university commitments, and my commitment to running GenreCon. I’m trying to keep my apartment to a sane level of organisation and run a weekly RPG session for my friends. I’m trying to balance being a good partner to my girlfriend and support my friends and family members.

My brain rebels at the idea of starting something because even the decision to start means picking something from that list and saying This! This is the most important thing on this list right now. 

So I set my timer for thirty mintues and I close my eyes and point. I start on the thing that I’m pointing at and work that the timer is done. It may be wrong, but there is movement, and movement is better than stagnation. Stop panicking about the writing and it will come back, one way or another.

And if it doesn’t, set the timer again. Get started on another task and move on.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

I’ve still got a little fine-tuning on the GenreCon program this week. Topics and panellists all exist in draft form, but there’s a handful that I’m not yet sold on and want to take another run at before we release them to the public. I’m also moving forward on Project Beeman again – had a lot of luck putting together detailed daily plans that are capturing all the busy work on any given day, which opens up more writing time than I would have thought.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’m in the middle of my yearly re-read of Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative and his various follow-up books, rethinking processes and soaking up new details. I read these every twelve months and every time I pick up something new – Henry advocates a process with a lot of moving parts and it takes time to get some aspects down before others make sense.

This year, the part that’s particularly resonating is his sections of creative stimuli, refilling the well, and looking for connections between works that aren’t really connected. They mesh particularly well with some of the reading I was doing from Cal Newport at the start of the year about the way to make academia work.

What action do I need to take?

Updating the banner for the Sunday Circle to bring in the replacement question. For some reason I hesitate to do anything that involves Photoshop or InDesign at the moment, and all the tasks that pile up as a result of that keep eluding me.

Some Process Notes on the GenreCon Program

We’re aiming to get the full GenreCon program out by the end of the month, which means the first few weeks of August are dominated by putting panels together and then pulling them apart and putting new things in their place. It’s the most exciting part of the gig in many ways, which means it takes very little to flip the switch and transform that excitement into anxiety. I have spent the last week taking changes in my plans very poorly and being more irritable than normal.

Part of it is because I made a mistake. We were aiming for major program announcements in the middle of August, which is a perfectly sensible date based upon the timeline for print production, but does mean we’re going to spend two weeks trying to confirm speakers when a sizable portion are in Helsinki for Worldcon or hitting Brisbane for the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference.

The vast majority of people will respond fast despite being on the road, but there is always the sizable portion who prove to be slow to respond to email at the best of times. By the time we hit the end of August and the last few stragglers are being prodded, I will be huddled under a desk sticking pins into dolls and cursing their names in all the ways I can think of.

Of course, I am currently ignoring emails as I type this, so it’s not like I don’t understand how tings get to this situation.

That said, the program is in a pretty good shape. I’ve got the basic brief and copy for 14 of the 16 discussion programs locked down so we can start confirming participants, but the final two aren’t coming together. The gist of the idea is there, but I’m trying to figure out how to make the idea clear enough that people understand it and sexy enough that they want to go see the topic.

My basic rule of thumb for a topic is always: what action can a writer take away from this panel and apply to their writing/career with immediate benefits?” If I cannot see that action yet, the topic isn’t quite right and needs to be re-thought.

 

Cracking open a Fresh Bullet Journal

It’s 11:05 on a Monday morning and I have already packed far more useful work into my day that I fit into the whole of last week. It took almost a whole weekend of planning to get me to this point, revising processes and outlining project and sweeping notebooks, email, and projects for the unfinished tasks that have been creating drag on my subconscious.

I’ve started a fresh bullet journal, having finally run out of space in the one I kicked off last September, and I’ve gone back to the cheap-as-dirt larger J. Burrows Journal  with 8mm rule after nearly a year using a Moleskin grid-rule. I loved the moleskin, but I’m juggling projects in nine different areas of my life at the moment and I planning a day so that I’ve got a clear idea of what’s necessary to gain ground in every area means dedicating two pages to a single day. That means burning through Bullet Journals faster and it means the extra space is handy.

It’s nowhere near as neat and tidy, but that’s not why I bullet journal. The internet seems to have transformed it into an ongoing art project as much as an organisational tool, but I am primarily interested in cranking widgets and getting shit moving.

Thesis work. Writing work. GenreCon work. All three seem to involve a significant amount of scope creep if not carefully tended and outlined before the day begins, which means it’s easier to give up than chase the impossible-to-reach horizon. Some days you’re so focused on getting to Mordor that you forget the first step is getting the fuck out of the Shire before the ring wraiths arrive.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Writing takes a back seat over the next seven days, as I’ll be turning my attention to the GenreCon Program. The rough framework has already been worked out, but I need to spend the quality time refining topics, developing the core question driving each panel, and putting together copy that will entice people to actually go along.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’m a big fan of getting familiar with people who do a form well before you attempt to write in a particular style, and writing program copy is one of those things that very few people do well. I’ve been reviewing old programs from cons and other writing events, making notes about what works for me (and what doesn’t) and generally looking at the formulas that can be adapted.

What action do I need to take?

I didn’t do a full weekly checkpoint last week and paid for it again and again throughout the last seven days, between forgetting small-but-important tasks, failing to to remember a handful of appointments, and generally getting mired down on a handful of projects. I absolutely need to set aside some time to do a more thorough breakdown this week so there’s a little more clarity.