Tag Archives: writing

Writing Process Examined

After NaNoWriMo I decided to start my next novel and continue writing by hand. Thus far I’ve written 66,600 words across 4 Yoobi composition books and used only graphite. The Yoobi books are significantly smoother in texture than the Norcom and Roaring Springs Comp books I used for NaNo. The tactile feel is substantially different, and I’m really enjoying the feel. I began writing on February 26th (this writing is initially being done on 3/31) so I’ve done a substantial amount of writing in the last 30 days. In fact I reached 50,000 words after only 20 days.

Pencils used in writing.

My work schedule has settled down to my working most days after 2pm until about 7pm with longer days here and there. I’ve had to revamp when I write. In the past I had a strict no media- reading, TV, movies, art, or writing before work. I’m prone to getting into the flow and not knowing what time it is, and have been late to work in the past. Now that I’m working afternoons and evenings, that just doesn’t work. If I’m up at 10am I need to be able to work before work otherwise I waste most of my day, because I’m often fried after work.

I’ve set alarms on my phone to alert me to about a half hour before I need to leave, and then again when I need to get out of the house so I won’t be late. The 30 minutes allows me to jot down my thoughts for the scene and where I’m thinking it will go on  a sticky note as well as wrap up the thought. It also gives me enough time to pack my bag and grab a snack. I listen to podcasts on my way to work that help me to disengage from the creative process and get into the right mode for work. (Erasables, Myth and Legend, I Should be Writing, Art Supply Posse, etc)

After work I often find I need some down time to unwind. While writing is helpful in helping me to unwind I find that reading something can be more helpful in shifting from work mind to creative mind. I often read and listen to music for an hour or so after work. Occasionally I watch TV, but I find that many of the TV shows that I’ve been watching tend to aggravate me more than relax me.* I tend to save up 3 or 4 episodes of any one show and then watch them all in one day.

Often after reading for a few hours I’ll hit up the novel again and get a few more pages down. Sometimes I don’t get to it. I’ve learned not to beat myself up if I can’t write after work or skip a day. After all, I won NaNo once, and I’m currently crushing the number of words I did in NaNo 2016. I can do it even if I take days off. So a day or two off here and there is no big deal, hell, I am now looking at it as a needed rest for my brain. The other side of that is that just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about the novel. I’m a fan of the idea that sometimes the brain needs downtime to noodle through thoughts and figure out the sticky bits. Sometimes the downtime is needed reflective time.

So while yes the adage of “apply ass to chair” is a good one, sometimes the brain needs time to reflect without the pressure of the pencil/pen/keyboard. So long as you get the ass back into the chair after a day or two- even if it is to work on a different project, and you aren’t using the downtime to avoid the writing, the I think it’s all good.

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Sunday Study: Writing Down the Bones

I’m not sure how Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones has escaped my attention. I was published back in 1986 and chapter 1 is a blueprint for every writing with a stationery affliction to delve deeper into that affliction.

For 32 years Goldberg has suggested to readers that they find a pen that lets them write fast on  cheap paper that they feel they can write garbage on. Interestingly, without ever reading this book this is advice I’ve given to journalers who have taken my classes- get journals that you will use- that you feel okay slopping paint into, spilling ink onto the pages, a journal where you won’t worry about making mistakes, one where you’ll feel okay simply turning the page. Goldberg adds a snippet at the end of chapter 1 about use of a voice recorder, something even more applicable today when most of us with smart (or even semi smart) phones carry in our pockets. The section about using a computer word processor is pretty cute in that it was written in ’86 when typewriters were the norm. I do wonder what she would say about talk-to-text? 

It’s interesting to think about the pens and pencils we like and why we like them. Goldberg mentions a pen being speedy and allowing her to record her thoughts quickly lest her mind out pace her hand. How many times have we had a thought about something we’d like to write or journal about only to forget it once we get pen to paper?

Goldberg encourages reader to really deeply think about which pen and paper combination allows them to write freely. I see this as a direct outcropping of her Zen meditation practice. For anyone who has practiced mindfulness writing can be a form, but also focusing on the feeling of pencil or pen on page can really bring about a sense of calm, and that can be channelled into the writing of the novel or into the journaling itself.

As a for instance. I’m a fan of rougher paper when writing with pencils. I love the feeling of pencil across the toothy page of a cheap composition notebook. In opposition, my friend Dee of The Weekly Pencil likes  smooth paper with her pencils, like Maruman. Alternatively, I like a smooth page for my fountain pens. I like the skating sensation of the nib across the page. Knowing these things about what we like can encourage us to delve deeper into our SABLE stash of materials and actually use them for their intended purpose- writing and arting.

 

Reflection: I Write Heaps of Words

For those of you who have followed my blog for any period of time, you know I write. I write many words, some of them go here. Many of them are wrapped up in half finished art guides that need editing and photography to be finished. While cleaning my office, I came upon one of these manuscripts. The large binder clip that held it together was stretched to gaping, and the stack of paper was marked up with my favorite blend of Noodler’s red inks; Nikita and Fox red. It looked as though I had cut an artery open on the page. Each page with edits had a orange post it tab letting me know they were on that page.

It brought me back to the frustration of making the edits, knowing that an edit was on page 55 when I made the edit wasn’t helped by the fact that by the time I’d made the 100 edits before suddenly it was on page 75, and thus hard to find.The back and forth of editing has never been my favorite part of writing. While it is something I’m perfectly capable of doing, I’ve avoided it out of annoyance. That is why you get blog posts with misspellings, various typos, and grammatical errors. I lack patience.

I started writing a novel a few months ago. It began as a way to unwind from all the heavy reading and writing I’ve been doing. Because I’ve been reading heavy nerdy stuff, it’s definitely getting to be heavier than intended. It is also slow going because I had no process on how to write. I was sort of throwing ideas on the page and seeing what I liked and as I went I  developed my characters. I got 10,000 words into it and realized it would never work as a novel because, well it just wasn’t readable. As an exercise in writing, well it was something else. I realized I needed to write my novel like I write my researched papers. Start with an idea, flesh it out, make an outline of the points i need to hit, then flesh those out, and soon enough I have my 10 pages of researched goodness.

Except with a novel I’m creating a world, and shit needs to be consistent, and ideas need to be right for the character. Anyway, I’m figuring this stuff out and it’s a necessary distraction from all the heavy stuff I’m reading. I’m relaxing my brain and with the relaxed, creative mind I’m finding new ways of thinking about the heavy stuff I’m reading. I’m able to come up with better ideas, my papers are flowing more smoothly, and I think my writing has gotten better. well, not my blog writing. This stuff could still  you some serious editing.

Anyway, my novel may never end up being anything serious, right now it’s serving it’s purpose by helping to relax my mind,  but who knows what the future holds?

Thursday Review: MiquelRius Grid Notebook

MiquelRuis 300page Grid Notebook with Red vinyl cover

I bought this notebook 4 or 5 years ago while searching for a Ciak brand notebook. As a notebook snob and a bookbinder I find this book to be just MEH.

First it’s perfect bound- glue with no stitching. Eventually with hard use pages will fall out. It’s just a matter of when not if. Perfect binding is simply not sturdy enough for the kind of abuse I put my notebooks and journals through. I will say that I’ve been carting this notebook around for 2 or 3 months and it’s held up pretty well so far. Also due to the binding and thickness of the book, it will not open completely flat while writing, which is a nuisance.

The pages are 15 to 18 pound in weight and very thin. Almost every pen I own strike through (is visible on the reverse side) and 90% bleed through. This means I can only use one side of each sheet of paper. So that drops the 300 pages of the book down to 150 usable surfaces. So even if I wanted to brave the non-flat writing surfaces of the left side of the notebook, I could barely read what I wrote. Additionally some of the inks I own feather like mad on this paper. I’m talking about relatively well behaved inks like Diamine Chocolate Brown.

The paper is very smooth and has the best light pale blue grid I’ve ever seen. It’s what drew me to the brand in the first place. After looking at a dozen or so gridded notebooks, I fell in love with the pale blue of this grid. It’s pale enough to blend into the background and not interfere with the writing when you are referring back to your writing. The pen glides over it. It’s not as smooth as Rhodia or Claifontaine paper but its way better than Moleksine paper. Ink is better behaved on the right side of the MiquelRuis paper than moleskine paper. The paper definitely has a right and wrong side for fountain pen use. One side is smooth and the other has a little more tooth to it and grabs the tip of the pen ever so slightly.

The format of the book I purchased is great- at 6×8 inches I’m finding the page size perfect for writing and recording thoughts and sketches. The size is good for slipping into a book bag.The 300 pages is a tad on the heavy size for every day toting about but if it were the only notebook you were to carry it wouldn’t be bad. They come in 100 and 200 page counts as well.

Would I buy another one of these notebooks? Probably not. The bright vinyl cover is nice but doesn’t speak to me the way a leather cover does. The paper’s lovely pale blue grid is about the only thing I really like about this notebook. Using both sides of the page is important to me, using just one side seems very wasteful to me. I prefer a stitched notebook for durability. I have to mention that pale blue grid again; it’s why I keep reaching for this notebook. This would be a good gift idea for the vegan writter on your shopping list. They also offer a host of recycled vinyl options that I'd like to see.

I purchased mine about 5 years ago at Barnes and Noble. I notice that the brand is no longer listed on their website. When I purchased this particular note book it was the last one on the shelf. It cost $10. You can buy these notebooks at the miquelrius website here.

Pros:

  • 300 Pages
  • Sturdy Vinyl Covers
  • Cheap $10
  • Great pale blue grid
  • Mostly fountain pen friendly o n the right hand pages
  • Smooth paper is nice for writing

Cons:

  • 300 pages are heavy
  • Almost all my pens and inks exhibit strike through and bleed through
  • Not good for a wet nib
  • Can only write in it- sketching would result in horrible bleed
  • Forced to write lightly
  • Perfect bound- not very sturdy
  • Won’t lay flat when writing.

Some inks that did well on the paper:

Noodler’s Bulletproof Black, Eel Blue, Walnut, Beaver, Eternal Brown and anything BUT Herbin Bleu Nuit in an EF nib.

Art Habit part 1

I’m making a commitment to write more. Partially so my writing gets better but also because I’m working on a book. I’ve mentioned Art Habit once or twice before but this is my first public commitment to making it work. InkyGirl.com has 3 challenges on her blog, one of them is a challenge to write 500 words a day. When I’m focused on writing I can easily churn out 1500 words in an evening. When I’m not focused I write nothing. Goal setting is supposed to be good for success so I’m setting a 500 words  a day goal. Will I keep it? Who knows. I hope so. I suspect it’ll be an easy goal as 500 words is just a few paragraphs and about a decent blog post.

I can never keep to NaNoWriMo as it’s the busiest month of the year in my retail job. I’ve signed up nearly every year and failed every year. This year was no exception. I started and I’ve got about 10 to 15,000 words of Art Habit written. I’ve got another 10,000 or so stewing in my head and in various manners in various journals and I’ve given myself a commitment that in 2011 I WILL finish Art Habit. It WILL go into publication in 2012. That is my commitment to myself. This is something I’ve been working on for years, it’s been stewing in the back of my mind since 1998. Every year I’ve given up on it, put it further and further to the back of my mind and told myself that it can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t happen.

This is the effing year I MAKE it happen. This is the year I’m taking a sabbatical from my DayJob, working on an art show, a book, my blog and all the stuff that is important to me.

So let me tell you a little bit about Art Habit. It’s about making and keeping an Art Habit, how I’ve managed the screw up my Art Habit over the years, how I’ve shot myself in the foot, repeatedly year after year, and how I finally found my niche, my place and the ability to keep my Art Habit alive and strong. It’s my story, with some questions in there for the journaler and artist. It’s an exploration and I’m inviting you along to see what has worked and what hasn’t worked. It’s poignant and heartfelt. I’m going to let it all hang out and see what happens. Honesty is good. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the story.

I plan on sharing excerpts as I write here on my blog, I invite you to share with me, in the comments, your thoughts, feelings and stories. I invite you to share with your friends my words via your blog. I want you to muse on my writing in your journal. This is a personal journey I’m sharing but I’m inviting you along.

I can tell 2011 is going to be a spectacular year.

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Directive Journaling: Art Habit

The first class in the Art Habit program will be focused around journaling, written as well as art journaling. Most of you know I’m an avid journaler and have been since I received my first diary at age 10. I’ve written almost every day since then. (We won’t talk about college, m’kay?) I think that written journaling goes hand in hand with art journaling. When you can’t find the words art helps and when you can’t find the right shape or color writing helps. So this class is more of a self paced workshop, set 4 weeks long, featuring 4 mid-sized PDF of prompts, questions and text. The goal is to take the PDF, read it, mull it over and start to use it as a guide for directed journaling.

What I mean by directed journaling is when you focus on one particular word, or question while you write or make art; or you ask yourself a series of questions as you write or create art. Some of the questions are designed to get you thinking about the world around you others are designed to make you look within yourself.

This may look like the easiest art journaling course created but it’s probably the most difficult I’ve written. The questions are hard, they make you think and explore your thoughts and feelings on a subject.

These are questions that I use in my written journaling on a daily basis. This course comes from YEARS of journaling.

I have not decided if I’m going to do a video component to the class or not. We’ll see.

I’m very excited about this particular workshop and its implications for each person’s journaling. I know that when I use these directive questions my journaling becomes much more productive and useful.

Like I said, I’m very very excited.