Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Year-End Grab Bag of Writing Miscellany

Grab bag:  1) a collection of miscellaneous things; 2) a bag from which gifts are drawn at random.

At year end we often reflect on what we accomplished over the year.  And, rightly so, we celebrate the goals and milestones we have finished.  But in-between the milestones we all have amassed a collection of miscellaneous things -- a grab bag of ideas and projects that have been started and stopped, or perhaps regretfully discarded along the way.  In the end, these discarded ideas are like handfuls of mismatched costume jewelry.  They are pretty to look at and sparkle like the real thing if the light catches them just so.

This, in fact, is how I wind up with many unfinished blog posts!  The light catches the idea and then it fades before something else catches my eye.  But maybe, just maybe...you might catch a glimmer.

Grab Bag Item # 1:  A dose of positivity.

We pretty much know that writers need a  regular dose of positivity.   Here are lots of ways to assure and reassure ourselves we can and will manage both the must-do and want-to-to items on the horizon.  These are soooo easy, you might not even realize you're doing them.  But stop doing them and there might be trouble.  So for a dose of stating the obvious...

1.  Think small.  Whether you have a physical list or a mental list of what's coming up, break it down further. I've heard this before, and  this is item #1 in a great post at The Positivity Blog: Mark Twain’s Guide to Living an Awesome Life: 7 Essential Tips by Henrik Edberg, who suggests remembering Mark Twain's advice:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

The other six tips are pretty good too. 

For thinking small, I tell myself it's like folding my entire "list" like an accordion to show the first item and "hiding" the rest from my view.  The week ahead or the whole project will unfold.

2.  Sleep.  Yes, really.  It sounds obvious, but it's hard to think of one thing that will slow you down more than lack of sleep.  Try for that eight hours a night. 

3.  Let your dreams do some of the work.   This one's little less obvious than sleep.  You'll either be on board with this idea or think it sounds kooky. But give it a try. If something is not coming easy, tell yourself to "sleep on it."  Sometimes when I am frustrated with trying to memorize or grasp concepts (or work out plots) I just give in (not the same as giving up).  After sleeping on it, I'm often amazed at how much is within my grasp the next day of what confused and/or eluded me only yesterday.

4.  Double-dip.  This is the best one.  You can't not like getting a 2 for 1 deal.  Like sleeping and dreaming.

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Hmm...I must have taken a nap at this point.

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Grab Bag Item #2:  The Federalist Era (historical post)

Of course, I adore the Regency setting and all things English, but I hadn't quite realized the extent of how drawn I was to the time period until I found myself working the style of the early 19th century into my contemporary American setting.  Both the Regency and Federalist eras occur roughly at the same time, occurring on different sides of the pond.

Here is a description of the Federalist era.  According to an exhibit item description from the Star of the Republic Museum:

The Federal style was developed when the Federalist Party led the American government between 1790 and 1828. Federal-style furniture emphasizes straight lines and simple ornament. It tends to be light and delicate with Neoclassical elements, such as fluted or reeded tapering legs, classical figures, and eagle ornaments.


 I thought I'd share some of my research (okay, some days I just like to look at pretty pictures) on my setting for my work in progress Ghost of a Promise.  In working on this contemporary story, my Pinterest board on Federalist Era Architecture and Interiors is a collection of my visual inspirations for the suburban Washington, D.C. house my characters renovate. 

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I believe I became distracted looking at pretty pictures!

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Grab Bag Item #3:  Immortality brainstorming questions, questions, questions...

Age.  Yes, just three little letters. A-G-E. We try to ignore it, but at some point (if only by the mirror) we all get reminded that time has passed.  But what if you are immortal?   I wondered about this and other hypotheticals when I envisioned an immortal character.   

The downside of immortality:

1)  Boredom.  Well, really.  Eventually haven't you seen it all?  No wonder immortals get into mischief and create mischief!  (Thinking of the mythological gods.)

2)  Immortality could be seen as a curse.  Yes, it would seem that way if you outlived your loved ones.

How much does the outside affect who you are on the inside?  Because one looks eternally young, does this necessarily mean a character relate to youthful pursuits?  Or does he/she become an old soul in a young body?  Or would how others respond to his/her youthful appearance, in turn, keep him/her young in mind as well as body?

How about the differences of being born an immortal vs. becoming an immortal?

If born an immortal, it's in his/her genes.  Immortality, and for that matter, mortality, would be an inheritable trait?  For example, if a character's father is an immortal and her mother is mortal.  What are the chances she would be either?  How might a character "lose" immortality?


What if...a character doesn't know if she is immortal? 

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I think I got a headache.  But I will revisit this one!

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I hope you enjoyed  a few items from my "grab bag" of miscellaneous ideas.  What would be in your end of year "grab bag?"

2 comments:

  1. Great post! I have started many a post because my brain insisted on spilling out the details of something it found intriguing, or worrisome, or whatever. Often its only purpose was to lighten the brain's load so it could do something more important. LOL But I like your idea of having a grab bag of all those bits and bobs. :)

    And I absolutely LOVE the accordion idea with the list! That is brilliant -- it keeps everything at hand but in a manageable fashion. When we look at everything that needs to be done, it can be too much, but this is perfect. Thanks for that tip!

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    1. Donna, I love how you described the purpose of the "bits and bobs" and it does my poor worry-wart self good to have validation that I wasn't just wasting time. LOL And yes, the accordion idea is one of my favorite "tricks." Only I think I forgot about it until I started revisiting my grab bag of ideas! :)

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