Saturday, April 08, 2006

Plan? I Thought YOU Had The Plan!

An old friend from my days in the comic book self-publishing trenches sent a quick reply to my first post, and by doing so became the first-ever person to fulfill one of the roles I envision for my blog and the people who read it: Keeping me honest.

My friend, who described herself as "equally Erstwhile and unhappy about it" said that she hoped I'd share my plan, my roadmap for this journey.

Well, as my co-writer Greg and I once wrote, in a line that unfortunately never made it into the pages of our comic,
"Don't you need to have a clue before you can have a plan?"
At my Day Job, the whole office just did a big workshop on logic models as they apply to project management, and it left me with a keen sense of the breadth and depth of thought that goes into really planning a project. So it feels a little presumptuous to call what I have a plan.

I think what I have can most honestly be described as a goal, and a committment to pursuing that goal. I suspect that there's going to be a fair bit of stumbling and flailing around at first, as I try to find my way.

But, thanks in part to my friend and fellow Erstwhile, I am beginning to see what this process is going to entail. It's not a plan yet, and may not even be a clue. But it is a start.

Step One: I have to write.

Looks really, really trite, doesn't it? But it's true. I have to re-train myself to write. I have to make writing something I do, every day.

When I first started working out - and there's another area where I qualify as an Erstwhile - it took a lot of thought, a lot of mental as well as physical effort to overcome my resistance and reluctance to exercise. But I continued to do it. I saw results. It became something that I wanted to do. Then it became habitual.

And then it became a need. (Remind me to relate my story about exercise and 9/11.)

As every authority on the subject will tell you, it's exactly - exactly - the same with writing. I need to build up my flabby writing muscles, and shed the fat between my ears.
"A writer writes - always!"
So, with apologies to Billy Crystal, this is the first goal: I am going to write every day.

I am going to pick up my pen, or sit down at the computer, and write. At least 250 words, and - at first - nothing matters but actually sitting down and doing it.

Quality? Doesn't matter right now.

Good ideas? Forget that.

Spelling, grammar, making a vestige of sense? No. Not yet. That comes later.

What's important, first and foremost, is developing the habit of writing on a daily basis, so that a chore becomes a desire becomes a habit becomes a need. And you're going to help me. Remember what I said about keeping myself honest? You're going to get daily progress reports on whether I matched, exceeded, or failed to meet my goal. You have my permission to mock me with merciless zeal when I don't measure up. Now that's motivation!

Oh, and here's another rule that I'm setting for myself: Blog entries don't count. The 713 words that comprise this post are just icing on the cake. Why? Well... Remember when I said that wanting to write isn't writing? Neither is writing about wanting to write.

Don't expect any excerpts, especially at first. This isn't going to be finished work. Some of it's going to be stream of consciousness. Some of it's just going to suck. I fully realize that there are going to be days when it's going to be such misery, such a slog to get those 250 words written that - after banging my head on the desk for an hour or three - I'll just end up typing "A is A." 83 1/3 times.

Hey, I think I just explained Ayn Rand!

More importantly, I think I might just have a plan after all. For the first chapter in this story, at least.

Check in tomorrow for a progress report.

1 comment:

Tragic said...

An excellent first step. Even though the blog doesn't count for your daily writing quota, I do hope you share your attempts here on the blog.

Another acquaintence of ours is quite good at the daily writing habit. Though her writings never make it to her blog, I always know she's still writing by the ongoing post of stats.

As an aside, "A is A" repeatedly would only give you a partial Rand novel. You have to be sure to stick in "Wishing won't make it so," "Man is an end in himself," and "give me liberty or give me death." And 83 times is not nearly enough to qualify as an Ayn Rand work. Add some zeros. John Galt may be a man without guilt but he's also a man who doesn't know how to precis.