I’m still going through my notes and the talks from RWA, which is a good chunk of information.
I’ve also started running again (using the 10K app, which is filled with nice little “you’re great!” affirmations). Running means I need to distract myself from my aching lungs and that means podcasts. My current podcast of choice is Writing Excuses, a short, snappy and fantastic look at the art, craft and industry of writing. I love it, in part because I always wanted to be a writer with a system – like, a really good, visual one I could use to explain my process – that was more exciting than, “I dunno. I sit down and write.”
However, the podcast plus the RWA notes resulted in an almost paralyzing amount of writing advice. Outlining tips. Development ideas. Voice issues. How to this. Why to that. And every time, I thought, whoa. That’s great knowledge. That’s gonna be life-changing.
Since I have poor impulse control, I immediately applied each tip as soon as I heard it. It was about as successful as when you go shopping and decide to wear all your new purchases the next day. (I have done this as well, which resulted in an incredible jean-on-jean look that was in no way cool. I also wore brown clogs.)
Finally I had to admit defeat. I stared with dead eyes at my manuscript, surrounded by index cards, colour-coded papers, storyboards and god only knows what else. Then I realized that all of the lovely tricks that worked for others just don’t seem to work for me, at least at the moment.
This made me feel bad, like I was doing something wrong.
I was. I was working under the assumption there was a transitive relation.
X is a good writer.
X uses storyboards.
Therefore, all good writers use storyboards.
I want to be a good writer, so obviously I needed a damn storyboard.
It’s not how it works, though. Like I tell the Kid, everyone’s different. Applying techniques like a spray gun was not helping me. So I mentally purged.
Storyboards and colour-coding work if you’re visual. I’m not. Out they went.
Outlines and spreadsheets would work if I was organized. Nope. Gone.
Slowly I filtered my way down and ended up with a system that I think works for me: a point-form outline to give me my milestones and then a free-wheeling filling in the blanks. Nothing fancy. It’s almost the exact same thing I did before all my experimentation except now I re-outline the story when I’m done to make sure that the story has achieved what I wanted. A slight change, but useful.
Way more boring but slightly less overwhelmed. Counting that as a win.