Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Kick in the Rear

Winter was here last week. Today the birds are singing, neighbors are visiting on the green and leaves are stretching in the warming sun.

These quiet days of January seem perfect for my goal of writing a few times a week about what I have observed in the studio, around the house, in the classroom and about my family.

Too many weeks have passed since I made notes here about the ordinary events of the Feasting of Thanksgiving, the Preparation of Advent and the Celebration of Christmas. I have dreamed of finishing some of the sentences still floating around in my head like paintings left sitting on an easel or turned to the wall. I had even set deadlines, but somewhere there was a disconnect.

So I went back to a list by writer James Scott Bell which I saved almost two years ago about D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E -- something I handle even less well than goals or deadlines. When I opened the file, "Ten Disciplines for Fiction Writers," I immediately thought, " Yep, Motivation. And Momentum. Yes, I need that. And the nifty 350. . . wonder how 350 words translates to brush strokes?" And it was there that I found yesterday's quote: "A goal is a dream with a deadline."

I looked at each of the ten headings and pulled a sentence which simplified it for me. (with apologies to Mr. Bell.)
  1. Motivation - Find your own ritual that gets your juices flowing, and don't waste it.
  2. Momentum - You must find a way to write (create) consistently if you wish to be a working fiction writer (artist.)
  3. The nifty 350 - (Get) a kick start in the morning. If I don't watch it, my day can fill quickly with little tasks, distractions, interruptions, phone calls and crises of various magnitudes.
  4. The furious 500 - Whatever your quota is, break it down into furious chunks. . . . You can make it perfect later.
  5. Super Tuesday - I have designated each Tuesday to be exclusively a writing day. . . . I don't schedule appointments or pleasure trips or anything else on that day.
  6. Celebrate - Look for creative ways to celebrate even the smallest victories.
  7. A kick in the rear - Find ways to get yourself back on track if you derail.
  8. Keep a log - (Record) daily and weekly production. Review this log each week.
  9. Get Healthy - Your productivity and creativity improve with the care of your body.
  10. Retreat and Advance - (Assess... Create... Plan...) Then, day by day, week by week, advance on your goals, like a general in charge of an army.
Okay. So I've got some dreams. I've got some goals. I have some deadlines. I need some discipline. THAT might take a Kick in the Rear.

Used by permission of the author. *(words in parenthesis are my addition)
Mr. Bell's list was first published in The Writer's Digest and was included in the February 11, 2008 on-line newsletter. The full text is here.
This article appeared in the October 2002 issue of Writer's Digest.

Both The Writer's Digest and books by James Scott Bell are excellent creative resources.

James Scott Bell studied philosophy, creative writing, and film in
college, acted in off-Broadway theater in New York, and received his law
degree, with honors, from the University of Southern California. A
former trial lawyer, Bell is the Christy Award winning author of
Deadlock, Breach of Promise and The Trials of Kit Shannon series which
includes A Greater Glory, A Higher Justice and A Certain Truth. He lives
in Southern California with his wife, Cindy, and their two children. You
can learn more at his website:

A Kick in the Rear
iPhone photo: Winter Tree
appropriate copyrights apply
BushStrokes (c) AAB

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