Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lists, Plots, and cleaning.

Some people have a list of chores they need done, and mark them off as they are done. Some people have a list of chores done divided per day, so Saturday is laundry day while Wednesday is clean the bathroom day, or something.

Me, I needed more motivation than that. After the injury spent months grinding me down by staring at all the things that need doing and I couldn't do, I've started on a simpler track:

I do things, and make a list of what I have done.

I learned this from a writer, Dean Wesley Smith, who was talking about the artificial divide between pantsers (make it up as you go along, plotting by the seat of your pants) and plotters (have a detailed outline before you write the first word). Most authors aren't actually one or the other, he contends, and there's a wide range of folks who agree that their "plotting" ranges from six bullet points on a notepad that have to be accomplished by the story's end to writing the ending, and then figuring out how to get there, or building a plot, then writing scenes with characters, and as the characters do their own things by their own motivation, revising the plot.

Dean himself plots in reverse. That is, he'll come up with a title, and then write whatever comes to mind, in the style of a pure pantser - but when he's done with a writing session, he pulls out a notebook and notes down who the people are, where they are, and what they did in the scene. After every session, he'll add to that. And if he gets stuck, he'll pull out the notebook, look at the plot so far, and go "Ah! I haven't done anything with that character / plotline!" or "I need to flesh out that character arc." And that'll inspire him on how to go on.

I'm not that awesome. But I can clean in reverse: look around, pick something, and start cleaning. Then clean the next thing, and the next, noting them down as I go. The advantage is that I'm making a growing list of "I got this done", instead of failing to cross out a list of "need to do." So when I become one with the couch in a puddle of very tired and sore shoulders, I can feel accomplished at everything I managed instead of frustrated at what I didn't do.

Hey, works for me.

2 comments:

deborah harvey said...

thanks. a good thought.
last year when i had to have a hip replacement, i had to put mom in the nursing home.
she had lost her mind and i had about 2 years of trying to stay awake 24 hours a day to watch her, total exhaustion.
i have lists and piles of junk, piles of papers, piles of laundry.
i despair when i look at the lists and the piles.
you have thought of a better way and i will try it.
just pick a thing and do it til it is done or i poop out. then make the list! will make me feel accomplished and that there really is hope to dig out of the piles.
maybe i'll discover things i forgot and feel like an archeologist at a dig.
thanks!

Old NFO said...

Then it's NOT wrong!!! :-)