Sisyphus with Oatmeal

The Summer of Plots

Right now, I'm plotting a novel. I want a plan before summer ends. (Ideally, I'd like to have bite-sized pieces to chomp down during the school year).

There are a lot of characters and storylines in my plans, and keeping them all moving onward and award has required a lot of messy pushing. Things slide when I'm not looking.

Grim History of Bug-eyed Doodles

For me, planning has always involved stories and sketches. There are probably still notebooks in a Manitoban basement documenting the adventures of strange (and often heavily armed) creatures.

All of what a person might generously call my strategies return to those notebooks full of pop-eyed adventurers. I draw faces. I'll sketch places. And I suppose the doodling keeps the problem in the corner of my eye (unsuspecting while I sneak up on it).

The Pretense of Order

For years, I've taught (mostly) teens about how to break through tough spots in writing, and I'll teach discrete strategies. Try writing without stopping (or even thinking) for five minutes. Try lists. Try a mind map. Try questions.

In reality, when I'm on my game, these things are much more muddled. In my notebook, there are plenty of "mind maps" with their sprawling arrows and options. But there are also many sentences that are basically me, talking to myself until the problems and solutions start to bubble up. I circle back, I reverse things, I shake my head and see what a long walk can solve.

The process isn't really a set of tidy strategies.

It's much more like wrestling. (Maybe in the dark).

((Possibly with porridge)).


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