Tags:
  1. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357

    Workflow and successful writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Alan Aspie, Mar 7, 2019.

    Alfred Boring wants to become writer. And - surprise, surprise - he will be.

    In his path from wannabe writer to established writer he reads, writes, studies and interacts a lot.

    He reads stories, fiction, facts, about writing, about art, about life. He watchs. Movies, tube clips, tv-series, life around, even how his own life shows itself via another pari of eyes.

    He learns about 3-act structure in his childhood. Later he learns one plus two halves plus one. Then he learns five acts. Then 22 steps. Then... And he learns about archetypes. And he learns... He learns formulas of writing and success. But these formulas don't make him successful.

    He notices that all these formulas are true but they are not the whole truth. And this formula rules out that. And this formula excludes this. So... They are more like guidelines? And there are a lot of guidelines. And many masters and canonical texts break these guidelines.

    There must be some kind of fine tuning that sets different guidelines in different texts, topics, genres, time periods...

    So... My argument:

    Many professional advices about writing are good or excellent. But these advices have an area of artistic development that they cover. They are not meant to be valid elsewhere than in that area. So our validation and critic should focus on that area.

    Those advices are good. We should respect them - and the persons who gave them.

    We should also see what they lack. And best way to do it is to go forward, to the next level of learning and working.

    One easy and laborious way to do it, is studying and learning until you reach some kind of saturation point. You can go forward while seeking you saturation point, but you can't stop studying and learning before that. And hopefully not after that either.

    This patht...
    Sturcture ==>
    Formula ==>
    Guidelines ==>
    Style
    ...is of course just a low resolution model of complex reality.

    But I think it works. And I should go beyond it. And maybe you should also. Or maybe you are there. Or maybe you try to avoid the work. Or...

    Thoughts?
     
    John Calligan likes this.
  2. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,480
    Likes Received:
    1,683
    "Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
    After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
    Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."
    -- Bruce Lee
     
  3. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,102
    Likes Received:
    3,201
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    From Jane Friedman's most recent blog post:
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  4. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2019
    Messages:
    902
    Likes Received:
    953
    Personally, I don't care about structure.
    How many acts my book has? No idea.
    An inciting incident? There's several of them, as the trajectory evolves.
    Scene-sequel structure? No idea, haven't bothered to check, just wrote what the story seemed to need.

    I care about getting the reader emotionally involved with the characters.
    I care about micro-tension and flow that pulls a reader from one sentence to the next, and from one page to the next.
    I care about long-run story questions that get the reader to pick the book up again after a reading session ends.
    And I care about giving them a satisfying experience at the end, so they'll put the book down glad they read it, even though it's book 1 of a series.
    And I care about leaving them wanting more.
     
    frigocc and Mark Burton like this.
  5. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,094
    Likes Received:
    2,158
    Location:
    Playground of Dorothy and Tinman
    I think many people confuse structure with the art of writing a story. Structure is a scaffold, something to hold your story. It isn't the story itself. That might sound trite, but it's important. The structure has to be purpose-built around the story, not the other way around. The same can be said of formulae, style and guidelines.

    Structure can also help move a story from one event to the next, present the information in a familiar, logical and often interesting way. It is a tool, a shortcut to a successfully delivered story. Without the story, there is no structure. The most important thing has to be the story.

    This becomes important because if authors starting out learn only about the structure, then they aren't really learning how a story fits within a structure or which structure to use. To be successful, authors need to practice moulding their stories, which leads to the natural evolution of using these tools to tell the story. To use an analogy, reading the technical workshop manual for a car tells you how to look after the car; it doesn't tell you where to drive it or how to do so.

    I think we lose sight of the fact that the tools we learn aren't in and of themselves the final product.
     
    seira, XRD_author and John Calligan like this.
  6. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,551
    Likes Received:
    937
    Location:
    Earth
    The only nugget I can offer is that by learning and studying how to draw it’s help me develop ideas for writing, instilled the requirement for using structure in order to develop teh ability to work beyond common structures and be artistic.

    Follow a formula. Do your best. Then try out another formula. Appreciate the facets of the our chose medium and try and appreciate how other media relates to your choice of medium. Copy others, splice ideas, exlpore, and one day you may create something you’re truly proud of understanding the effort and persistence you’ve put in. It may not matter to anyone else, but if that is the only reason for writing then I can only ask why are you spending your time doing this?

    I have felt a large push onthis forum to “write for others” expressed both openly and indirectly. It is an interesting exercise, but I cannot justify it as a goal in my writing.

    One thing is for sure. If you’re not struggling what the hell do you hope to achieve by putting in so little effort? Some write purely for praise and others enjoy the process. I cannot honestly say I always fall into one category more than the other. Sometimes my subjectivity is a poor companion and so I need to hear the views of others. Sometimes I seek praise and sometimes I seek ridicule - sometimes I’m too soft on myself and sometimes I’m too hard on myself. Such is life as a human being trying to be human ;)

    Here is ine method. Write a 100 word story about a girl who’s lost her ball and the has to kill a rabbit. Write ten different stories with no intention of ever showing them to anyone else. See what happens. Will this make you a better writer? If you write something purposefully NOT to show anyone what happens? Give it a go :)
     
  7. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Messages:
    1,078
    Likes Received:
    1,719
    Location:
    Texas
    Using a story structure helped me get started and get my work off the ground, but once it started moving I just went where it took me, not worrying about sticking to the exact formula. (I used How To Fix Your Novel if interested https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU9RKWN/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU9RKWN/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1)
    While I found Steve Alcorn's formula very helpful to get me started (and I still keep some of his suggestions in mind as I go) I found that once I had my beginning and more of my story fleshed out, I just wrote it, with no thought as to specific structure or formula...and it's working just fine.
     
  8. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    36,168
    Likes Received:
    2,845
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    My paying job is in software engineering. Over the years, I have seen many software development models go in and out of vogue. Each one promises the same set of results: faster development, more maintainability, lower defect rates and efficient use of resources (people). Each one manages to make marginal improvements in one area, but flops in another.

    Software development, inherently, is a manufacturing process. However, the more exciting innovations come from creativity, and with it, research. These are activities that do not fit well in the software development paradigms.

    Good writing can follow a process, and produce results on a schedule. A successful TV series or movie franchise can operate primarily on process, although a certain amount of creativity is essential.

    But great writing leans more on creativity. Sure, the writer has to become proficient at the mechanics of writing, but the higher levels of organization, like rigid story frameworks, aren't as relevant or effective.

    Trust your instincts. If your instincts aren't developed enough, use frameworks to help you develop the instincts. But formulaic writing shows itself as mediocrity, and that is true for both software development and fiction writing.
     
    Mark Burton and matwoolf like this.
  9. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    93
    Guidelines: https://www.youtube.com/user/clickokDOTcoDOTuk/videos

    But you still need to execute creatively.
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  10. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357
    I have payed a lot of attention to organising my workflow. Here are some sub areas of that:
    - Time management
    - Research
    - Stress management + mental well being
    - Tools
    - Literature & material
    - Health
    - Networking
    - Keeping momentum up
    - Inspiration, creativity
    - Handling my autistic traits
    - Structural work
    - Character creation
    - Organising mundane life so that there is enough room for writing
    - Some protective things in social life. (Keeping some toxic things as far as possible.)
    - Developing my thinking
    - Financial situation
    - Self reflecting as part of writing process
    - Some private parts of life.

    I have found that big part of writing problems are rooted to workflow - and can be solved there. If they can't be solved there, they can get a big bunch of support there.

    Still... Workflow is not very common topic here. We might analyse things relate to it or caused by it, but not the root thing itself. Why?

    Don't we see it's importance? Are we afraid of it? Don't we notice it?

    Thoughts about something here? Personal remarks?
     
  11. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    10,746
    Likes Received:
    9,991
    Location:
    Near Sedro Woolley, Washington
    I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about here - there's a heck of a lot of overlap between elements on your list there, and I don't know how making such a list is going to help you.

    Are you sure you're not overthinking this?
     
    Iain Sparrow likes this.
  12. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,864
    Likes Received:
    10,730
    Location:
    The great white north.
    These are kind of the same thing to me.
    - Time management
    - Organizing mundane life so that there is enough room for writing​

    Same with these.
    - Research
    - Tools
    - Literature & material
    - Developing my thinking​

    These I generally ignore.
    - Stress management + mental well being
    - Health
    - Handling my autistic traits
    - Financial situation
    - Some protective things in social life. (Keeping some toxic things as far as possible.)
    - Some private parts of life.​

    These aren't things I actively engage with unless there's a problem.
    - Keeping momentum up
    - Inspiration, creativity
    - Self reflecting as part of writing process​

    And networking is basically what I do when I'm procrastinating.
     
    EdFromNY likes this.
  13. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,102
    Likes Received:
    3,201
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I pretty much align with this, except that everything you have under "generally ignore", I would include under "unless there's a problem". Since, as that great philosopher, Murphy, reminds us, "left on their own, things generally go from bad to worse".
     
  14. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357
    Time management = time related things.
    Mundane.. room for writing = things related other variables than time. Not "enough time for writing" but "enough room for writing." Time is totally different thing than room.

    Research = seeking information about topics you are working with.
    Tools = Computer, monitor, keyboard, pad if you use, means of transportation, recording-, photographing-, drawring tools & gear.
    Literature & material = Written and other stuff you acquire no matter do you need it for your research or not.
    Developing thinking = Training both specific and meta level thinking tools.

    1- I don't ask anyone to make lists. My main point was this:

    2. In my perspective: no.

    I'm autistic. I make things easy and manageable by structuring them. Splitting workflow to some of it's main components does not take more than a couple of minutes.

    And if you read General Writing forum, Lounge and Progress Journals you find out that many participants have writing problems that are rooted to workflow management & mundane life.

    Often it takes 10 times more time, effort and energy to solve a problem than to prevent it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,460
    Likes Received:
    11,665
    I think a lot of the time, these sorts of issues are more excuses than actual causes. I'd say the main reasons people don't get their writing done is because they think writing should be easy fun, but really writing is hard work. It can be enjoyable, sure, but it's also really challenging (at least if you're pushing yourself to write your best).

    So people treat writing the same way they treat easy fun things - browsing the internet, watching movies, or whatever. They think that if they enjoy something, they'll just do it and the time will magically appear in their day. But that's an approach that works for easy fun enjoyable things.

    For hard work enjoyable, I think people need to force themselves a bit, at least sometimes. Not a big deal, but not something that feels "right" if you're thinking of writing in the "easy fun" way.
     
    marshipan, jannert and deadrats like this.
  16. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,480
    Likes Received:
    1,683
    I need a clear mind and conscience, and be mostly free from depression. My biggest road blocks are intrusive anxious or depressive thoughts, so I try pretty hard to manage my life in a way not to have many of those, or to contextualize problems in a way that lets me accept that I'm doing everything I can about them.

    Then I need time set aside where I can work without being bothered.

    For first drafts, I work pretty hard on the premise and outline, and that has meant in the past that I'd work on something for a couple of weeks and end up tossing it and starting over. If I have a premise that is good enough and a skeletal outline, when I write, I can go fast and get into a flow.

    I need to be reading some fiction daily, even if it's only for a few minutes. I listen to audio books in my car, or watch some YouTube with my coffee--mostly writing craft, history, topical material, and physics / cosmology. Between the two, I feel confident that what I'm writing is aiming the right way.

    Living a healthy lifestyle is super important. If I'm all bloated and stiff from bad food and sitting, I'm not going to generate nearly as much good material writing.

    Letting myself be bored sometimes. If my daughter is taking a nap, I can hold her while she sleeps and just sit there, bored, letting my mind grind over material.

    All that is basically to manage the aim of my mind, and give it ammunition, so that when I sit down to write, I go.
     
    Shenanigator and jannert like this.
  17. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,864
    Likes Received:
    10,730
    Location:
    The great white north.
    I do that by making sure not writing is more stressful that writing. Which makes procrastinating a vital part of my workflow. It's a bad habit that I'm trying to train myself out of, but that's pretty hard considering I'd pretty much learned that I can only accomplish anything when staring down the barrel in kindergarten.
     
    Shenanigator and Alan Aspie like this.
  18. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357
  19. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,675
    Likes Received:
    19,890
    Location:
    Scotland
    I'm not really a person who suffers from depression (well, maybe when I think about World Peace, and stuff like that) but I can certainly attest to the power of intrusive thoughts derailing the writing train.

    For me, it's not so much that I can't write during those times of stress—in fact I do write every day, to friends, family, social media, this forum, etc, as well as doing editing—but envisioning my story itself just doesn't happen. My story flow brain stoppers up. I try to think about my story, but I end up worrying about other stuff instead.

    I used to lie in bed at night or early in the morning and think about my story, envision scenes, etc. Now it seems all I do is think about the consequences of Brexit on my life, or what to do about my boiler house that's falling down and my insurance company is slow to respond, or how to deal with my husband's health issues. All these things require my attention and creative brain to cope with, and they can override my desire to create a story.

    Sometimes music helps to get me over this period, or even something simple like riding a bus for a couple of hours or taking a long walk can help unblock my creative brain. But peace and quiet is a better solution. Quiet I can achieve with a bit of schedule jiggery-pokery. Peace of mind is more problematic.
     
  20. Lina_1

    Lina_1 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2019
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi! I am Lina :)
    So, I just got a job as a writer for a software company. While it is great that I get to make a living doing something I love, I now write 9-5, 5 days a week (mostly content for apps, instruction manuals, policies etc). As a result, my own writing has fallen by the wayside and I just no longer feel inspired to do my own work the way I used to be.
    Any advice for a good writing routine? Or finding inspiration? Would like to hear your thoughts :) Maybe some of you on here have been in a similar situation?
     
    jannert and Shenanigator like this.
  21. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357
    1. Let yourself settle down to new situations.
    2. Test yourself to find what is good for you and what not.
    3. If you do several things that need thinking and/or creativity, you might need things you don't normally need. We can't know what fits you.

    If you test, let things go on in one way enough so that you are sure how things are. Then change one thing that feels wrong and let things go on until you know more. And...

    You might need something more, something less, some changes... We can't know.

    You might need totally change where and how you write. (From your own home to cafe or outside or...) You might need more exercise, soscial contacts, more food, less food, more sleep, earlier wake ups.... We can't know. You must test it.
     
    jannert and Shenanigator like this.
  22. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    2,641
    Likes Received:
    3,357
    Stress blocks higher brain functions like intelligent or creative thinking. Exercise burns your stress hormones. And it gives your brain something else to perceive. So your body let's you use your thinking after walking or exercising.
     
    Shenanigator and jannert like this.
  23. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,675
    Likes Received:
    19,890
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yes, I think so. It's startling how much freer my thought processes are when I'm walking. Mind you, I need to pay attention to crossing the street, etc!
     
  24. mrtickle

    mrtickle Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    36
    I think just leave your creative writing for a time until you 'feel' like doing it, that way you will enjoy it more and probably be more productive. There is no point in forcing creativity. But in the end your mind will find the way of getting your motivation back one way or another
     
    jannert and Shenanigator like this.
  25. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,480
    Likes Received:
    1,683
    I hope your real life stresses work out well. Brexit sounds really crazy

    Walking for writers is something Steven King preaches about.
     
    Shenanigator and Alan Aspie like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice