11.14.2006

Weekly Progress Post #3

Paper Coach : Teach Yourself to Write (A Fiction Writing Course)

Phase:1, Month:1, Week:4
Phase:1, Month:2, Week:5

TEXTBOOKS
Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write: An Invitation...
Phillips, Larry W. Ernest Hemingway on Writing
Shertzer, Margaret. The Elements of Grammar


PLAN V. RESULTS
Contrary to plan, this is turning into a bi-weekly progress post. I'm not yet sure if I should give up and go that way officially, or re-double (literally!) my efforts and strive to do the progress posts more frequently.

HIGHLIGHTS
Julia Cameron had something to say that resonated quite strongly with me. She noted the difference between 'discipline' and 'commitment'. More specifically, she warns not to be too rigid in your approach to writing, because an inflexible schedule (for example) may simply make you feel bad when you (quite naturally) don't write to that schedule perfectly.

This led me to the thought that rigid approaches to writing may be the way that some of us sabotage ourselves. For example, swearing we will write every single day for 45 minutes. Then comes the day its just not possible. Next come the self-recrimations at our 'failure' to keep the schedule. Followed in turn by depression and disgust. Depressed and disgust, we fail to write. "See," we say, "I knew I couldn't write." Or even more insidiously, "It's not my fault. I'm too depressed to write." Which makes us more discouraged, and the cycle continues.

Why would we do this to ourselves? What is our reward for such self-discouragement, for setting ourselves up to fail? We never need to find out if our writing is actually 'good'. We never need to fail at writing (a terrifying prospect), because we failed at starting (much less terrifying).

Julia Cameron's book helps us break cycles like these.

OPEN ISSUES
1. In light of the HIGHLIGHTS, I just noticed the phrase I used in PLAN V. RESULTS: 'give up' -- now why did I do that? Why not the phrase 'follow the organic rhythm' (other than that it sounds goofy)? Why 'give up' and all the bad feeling that attends such words? Rigidly setting myself up for failure?

2. I've hit the spot in The Right to Write wherein Ms. Cameron urges everyone to write three longhand pages every the morning. Previously I insisted I would be typing and not writing longhand, but I tried longhand and I have to admit (reluctantly) that there is a difference. I'm taking this under consideration.

3. Lastly, I noticed the Course Description says it has Phase Notes, but no such notes appear. So, I'm considering the first set of changes to the course. See below.

SUMMARY & PLAN CHANGES
1. PHASE NOTE #1: The course calls for starting Immediate Fiction halfway through The Right to Write. I think this should be more specific. We should start Immediate Fiction after The Right to Write has had us doing morning pages for at least a week. I'm almost there.

2. PHASE NOTE #2: When typing morning pages, I suggest saving them in their own files. For example, I have (computer) files where I save the results of my workshop exercises and others for the morning pages.

3. The grammar reading is going very slowly. I'm going to stretch the first grammar book over Phase 1 and Phase 2 and move Elements of Style to Phase 3. Additionally the grammar in Phase 4 will also stretch to an extra Phase, and that we'll drop the pocket grammar.

4. For those who are interested, I'll be adding a non-fiction book to the reference list. Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World". His manifesto for critical thought. Excellent.

5. A new site has been added to Favorite Sites. This is Jay Robison's blog and its stars a comedic political satire starring 'DM Dubya'. George Bush and company gaming. It's written by Dave Hall and illustrated by Jay Robison. Just scroll down to The Adventures of George W. Bush, Dungeon Master. Much fun!

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