Consume

I ramble often about letting my subconscious figure out my story problems or put together hints I didn’t even know I was including in my work. Some might call this their Muse, but that evokes a concept of something more Other than my process, an external force partnering the creative, while mine is more of a surprise discovery that I had the keys to the castle all along and just hadn’t checked the right pocket yet.

I believe everyone can learn to let their subconscious do the heavy lifting for tough plot points or laying foundations for even cooler events than originally outlined. But it’s probably not just a matter of typing madly away and expecting magic to happen out of nowhere. Because, ultimately, my subconscious can do the hard work as I’ve given it plenty of ammunition.

I consume information.

I’m always reading and learning new things, old things, anything in between. I read fiction as a way of life, but we’re graced with the internet age, and such an array of knowledge available in our homes, that it would be a disservice to existing without taking in as many of the universe’s juicy details as possible. I read non-fiction, technical texts, biographies, and just people’s personal blogs, relating their experiences and hardships and the way in which they overcome or simply survive the unimaginable… Without feeding so much into my mind, I wouldn’t have enough to draw on when I need my subconscious to insert something real and vital.

And it’s all interconnected. The way I name things, the themes I come back to, the character types and their trials and growth. What exists in my worlds, and the rules and lore. There are elements from all over the place, and they are all assembled in the unique way my mind functions. This is part of what people end up calling your “voice”, because the exact circumstances of you will be translated into your work.

Give yourself as much information, from a huge range of sources, across any number of subjects, as you can. Read and revel in knowledge. Build a deep well and fill it, and you will always have something to draw from. Let your subconscious handling putting together the jigsaw of these otherwise-disconnected pieces.

~A

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Don’t panic: do something

Going in over your head is sometimes the only way forward. The next step is straight into the deep end, and you know it’s unavoidable. Instinct number one is to panic.

I’ve been panicking. Just a little bit. But mostly because I’d forgotten my simplest and best rule for avoiding that sense of losing control of my direction. I require a high amount of self-education any time I’m uncertain of my plans. If I’m lost, I just need to stop and find enough information that I am enabled to have more confidence.

Honestly, my biggest problem of late has been putting all my efforts out of order. I want to get this thing over here done as soon as I can, but I desperately need to do this other task first, and putting it off won’t change any facts. There are plenty of activities which can be done in any order, but certain challenges must be faced one after the other.

I got tired of feeling under-confident and uncertain. Instead of pretending like I can avoid the hard parts until the very end, I sat down with a search engine open and started typing my questions. Simple things I needed to know, the very concerns which triggered my panic. “How do I?” such and such. Figure out the answer as I go.

And yes, research of this nature takes a long time. Many pages of browsing, many refined search terms. Click, read, click, read. Pick up tidbits of information from this person, disregard what that guy has to say, stumble across other fragments of valuable knowledge and store them for later.

I know this is all rather vague. In fact, all my panicking has been vague and across the board – one crisis at a time is more than enough, but I decided to have a couple. You know, for laughs and “funsies”. Or something. But the good news is, I fell back into old habits!: Research. Learn. Find out everything I can to give myself the stability I require. I might not do any of my tasks right, even after all this, but at least I can provide myself the best possible start to tackling my concerns. Information. Education. Knowledge.

Doing something is better than flailing about in a blind, self-defeating panic. I know. I’m there.

~A

Sometimes I wonder

I read a lot online. Blogs, articles, forums, humour sites, random research. I spend a lot of time on my computer, and have for most of my life. Wouldn’t trade that for the world, either, because the kinds of opportunities which come from being on the internet are incomparable.

But sometimes, I’ll be reading something. Often of the writing/publishing nature, since we all tend to get a little obsessive over that at times. And I will think to myself, “Why am I reading this instead of doing something productive?”

I love learning. Acquiring knowledge. The reason I spend so much time online is because there is so much available. I’ve been known to spend days straight consuming a good blog, or disappear a six hour block following links around Wikipedia. Funny enough, while I do check on things like Facebook regularly, I don’t spend a whole lot of time there (unless someone catches me on the chat function while I’m not looking).

But there are little triggers. I’ll read something, and for a myriad of reasons, it will make me wonder why I’m not doing something else. It’s not a guilt complex; everything I do has its reasons, and I’m okay with that for the most part. It might be partly an avoidance technique; I’m in the middle of a lot of things, and what I should work on isn’t necessarily what I’m most drawn to. But really, I suppose I just want to have something tangible for my time and brainpower. Knowledge can’t be tallied like words or stitches added to a project, so even while I value what I’m reading and experiencing, I feel I will have nothing to show at the end of it.

Which is ridiculous. If I didn’t have all this knowledge accumulated, these observations of humans and their thoughts and behavioural patterns, I wouldn’t be able to apply that to my stories. Which is pretty integral.

All the same, I’m going to draw a line this weekend. Get some serious work done and knock out a few of the smaller projects I’ve been dragging my feet over. I will say I have enough information to cover me for those two days, cut off my reading of things until Monday.

~A