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THE PHASES OF CREATING

January 29, 2014

 

The other day, I was moved by a friend’s blog post.  It was a very honest and compelling post in which she exposed to her readers her sense of frustration in finishing another year without enjoying the sense of emotional fulfillment or financial rewards that her intelligent, well-written, and helpful book should have provided.  She is a spiritual woman, a woman of God.  I sensed a crisis—not of faith—nothing could shake her faith in God!  But, that other crisis in faith: faith in herself.

Secularly, I think we can call it a crisis in confidence— and it can be especially poignant at year’s end.

How many of us plod into the year-end with similar feelings of diminished confidence, at least when contrasted with the buoyancy and unbridled promise we had felt at the beginning?  I have a hunch you’re not the only one holding up your hand.  I for one have been there … In fact, I’ve visited frequently … and recently.  It’s lonely being there.  I don’t want to go back and revisit it. 

But, I’m the cause of it … at least for me.images (6)

And, I’m the only one who can fix it … again, for me.

These last two days, I’ve been putting some thoughts to paper (or, to computer screen).  Let me first say I believe there’s little that’s new under the sun, so what you’ll have here are some old, worn thoughts, hopefully all spiffed up with some new clothes.

I’m calling it the Phases of Creating (but, just between you and me, it was Jay Squires, Author, who’s responsible that pretentious title).

Still, here we go:

~~~~

dream big

Phase One:  Envisioning!  You start out your new year (or your new novel, short story, painting, rug-making,cat to lion whatever), with all the wonder and the excitement and the promise of the Great Unknown.  The taste is raw, crisp and sweet.  Your vision is crystalline.  The end is clearly in sight, within your grasp and you anticipate, you even romanticize, the difficulties you might face along the way to the end.  This is the gunpowder in your musket.  Without it the ball will simply roll out of the barrel and fall to the ground.

Phase One-and-One-Half:  Planning!  I don’t even want to give this a phase of its own.  It has nothing to do with structuring your novel, outlining it, or notching in a middle to a beginning and an end.  That’s all part of the execution phase, most likely its first step.

What I’m talking about is preparatory to all of that, and probably second in importance only to that glorious envisioning.  It is the carving out of the time you will devote to your project.  I mentioned in a previous post that I used the “Don’t Break the Chain Calendar” as a tool for my time planning (Free and downloadable, by the way!).  I was determined to write for three hours every day on my fantasy novel.  Okay?  At the end of each writing stint I put a red X on that day of my calendar.  Folks, this is nothing less than the ball in your musket!  If you don’t plan, then at the end of the year, or before it, you’ll be shooting out a cloud of gunpowder!

Phase Two:  Execution!  I think it was Henry Miller who said, “When you sit, sit … When you stand, stand … But don’t wobble.”  When you write, write.  When you paint, paint.  Don’t say after your block of one-two or three hours that you’ve been writing or painting when you spent most of that time on the phone or reading your past chapters, or repainted that shadow from the twig.  All you’re doing is wobbling.  And you know it!

This is not a procedural.  There are as many different procedures as there are writers, painters, sculptors or rug-makers.  Procedure is an individual thing.  The one constant, though, is this:  there is honest and dishonest, good and bad, true and false.  And, to get to the honest, good and true, you must work through the dishonest, bad and false.  I found that it took me one hour on an exceptional day, two hours on most days, of dishonest, bad, false—and throw in phony for good measure—writing before I got to the honest good and true.

And, here is the critical idea that sums up what I’ve been trying to say up to this point:  If I hadn’t established my plan of writing three hours a day, each and every day, and reinforced it [in my case] with a tool, like snailsthe calendar I mentioned above, I would likely have not gotten past the first one or two hours of dishonest, bad and false writing.

Now, if you execute the plan you envisioned, you will, one fine and glorious day, be able to scribble or type the end.  That, if it’s a novel.  If it’s a painting—well, I guess you let it dry!

Essentially, you’ve pulled the trigger.  Felt the recoil.  The as-yet-unanswered question is: did you reach your target?

But, not so fast!  You are about to enter (not the Twilight Zone, but):

Phase Three:  The Big Oh-Oh!  The honest, the good and the true can be encapsulated with the title of Genius or Inspired.  The dishonest, the bad and the false, in my case, bear the title of Jay Squires, Author

I’ll finish my 600 + page fantasy novel in about a week.  It will have been written by Jay Squires, Author.

The first thing I’ll do after weighing it in at about a pound and a half is to admit that it is much too long for commercial publication!  Knowing that—and further knowing I want to validate my efforts by getting it published, I’m going to have to go back, chapter-by-chapter for perhaps another 2 or 3 hours a day, onward through what could be another year. 

And, what will I be doing?

You can call it revising.  Some call it editing.

Essentially, what I’ll be doing is winnowing out the oh-so-refined-and-pretty voice of Jay Squires, Author.  (I know bluehim well.  He’ll be easy to find.)  It’ll take work, but what will be left when I finish, if it comes anywhere near to matching my phase one vision, should be the essential, the simple integrity, the honest, the good and the true.  

And, I know I’ll have hit the target.

Or one sure as hell hopes!

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13 Comments
  1. As someone who really needs to kick my own ass in gear, I thank ya! Printing out my own Chain Calendar as we speak, to be tacked up right next to my cluttered writing desk. I’ll try not to break the chain. We’ll see about all the rest, lol.

    Best of luck to you Jay!

  2. It’s not easy to keep the chain going, but, if your vision is strong you can do it. Over a full year, I missed my writing 3 days. Each time it was justified, but I felt a tremendous sense of guilt over missing crossing off that day. Good luck with it, Victoria! And, thanks for giving my post a mention on Twitter.

  3. Very inspirational! Thank you for writing. I appreciate the honest perspective of an author in creating his work.

    • You can’t imagine how much I appreciate your words. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post.

  4. You must stop letting the proverbial cat out of the bag, Jay-man! You cannot be sharing that good stuff with the world!!! But, then, I jest with the master — it is truly only excellent! Your words, I mean! AND, I’m going to follow your advice each time I open my laptop…

    • Ha! Billy Ray, coming from a person who’s published — how many? — seven, eight, novels, all expertly crafted … I’ll accept your gentle chiding. Please come back as often as you like with your well-received droppings.

  5. Generous of you to take the time to meet out the details of perseverance in writing. Fiction, I find, is a whole other ‘beast’ to non fiction but both require just as you’ve said…or was it H James?… write, write, write!

  6. Thanks Sarah, for stopping by again. I think any and all writers worth their salt are saying write, write, write! That’s the only way to get past the days when you just can’t write. You do it.

  7. When I used to write, I had no problem getting the ideas and I LOVED the planning of it. My issue was I could never find the time or motivation to sit down and write the things! Now 20 years on, I never did finish any of those projects!

    • Thank you, Chuckles, for your comment (and for taking time away from your reviewing blog). I love the honesty of the reviews you do on your blog and now it’s nice to see you are just as honest about yourself. Of course, you are in good company. Come back again. Meanwhile, anyone else reading this, do yourself a favor and check out his blog: chucklesbookcave.blogspot.co.uk/ x

  8. Wonderful Jay, thank you much for the inspiration instruction on how to sit when you sit and write when you write a novel. Just do it! Great read!

    • I am so glad you stopped by and read my post, Cynthia. I love it when my writing experience helps or inspires another. Thanks again.

  9. I’m using the calendar with moderate success. Thanks, Jay, for an outstanding post!

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