Friday, August 6, 2010

Into the Box

I just dropped my three girls off at school this morning. Excuse me while I take a deep breath. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

The summer has been fun--I've gotten a lot of reading done (I'm working through my mountain, I mean stack, of books next to my bed). But, I haven't gotten a lot of writing done. For that, I need blocks of uninterrupted time, and I just haven't had that. I'm actually shaking, I'm so excited about digging back in. Plus, my first revision letter from Viking arrived this week--brilliant revision suggestions AND nothing too major. Yay!

One of the best books that I picked up this summer was Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit.

Twyla is a world famous dancer and choreographer, and her book is about the work and structure that is necessary if you are going to be a creative person. It sounds a little counter-intuitive, yes? To be creative, you must have structure? But, she's right. I think unless you establish some sort of routine to protect your creative time and space, it's easy to let life's distractions get in the way. I highly recommend her book, it's just what I need and I'm going to spend the next week or so figuring out how to organize my time (for example, do the things
that I can do when my children are at home, when they are at home--no more laundry folding during the school day!).

And, today, I'm going to take Twyla's advice from her chapter titled "Before You Can Think Out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box". Whenever Twyla begins a project, she unfolds a cardboard storage box, takes a marker and labels the box with the name of the project. She uses the box as a receptacle for anything having to do with the project--magazine articles, music, notepads . . . anything at all. When she is finished with the project (whether or not it results in something finished and performed), she stores the box away on a shelf.

I LOVE this idea. Although, Twyla recommends starting a project with a box, I'm going to work backwards, for now--I have several projects that are either duds or they are on the back burner, and I have disorganized stacks sitting around everywhere. Yesterday, I went to Office Depot and bought a package of cardboard boxes, and I'm going to archive my projects and store them away. That didactic, rhyming picture book with the "too fine art" illustrations (my first attempt), will go in a box with the rejection letters, illustrations, and marked up drafts in varying stages.

This is much better than tossing everything into the recycling bin! I love knowing that my work will live in an attic box somewhere, just in case I ever want to refer back to it.

Of course, I'll have to use a different process to archive my novels, but it will be easy to do on the computer. I'm going to create a file titled ARCHIVES, and divide it up by project. I can paste email rejections and revisions suggestions. Drafts from critique buddies. It'll work the same way, I just won't have a tangible box.

From now on, I'm going to keep boxes around so that if a good idea begins to form, I have a place to put it and everything else that goes along with it. And, then, when I'm ready, I can step out of the box and write my heart out!!

Have a great day, everyone!


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great idea. I still have a stack of old mss on my bookshelf. I don't have the heart to put them away.

Wow, your kids are already back to school? Mine don't start back until September 2nd. But then summer vacation didn't begin until the end of June.

Matthew Rush said...

My kids don't start til Monday, but it won't give me anymore time to write since I'm at work while they're at school anyway. Grrr.

storyqueen said...

I kind of do this, but with folders and plastic bins. (And with computer folders as well.)

It really works! back at school already? I'm not READY!!!! (Because when they go back, I have to go back, too!)


Stephanie Blake said...

Thank Heavens for school!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this post, sf! I'll have to find myself a copy of that book. Thankfully, we still have a couple of weeks before school starts. Once the kids go back, their teacher parents have to go back, too! :-)

Christina Lee said...

simple but brilliant!

Robin Mellom said...

I love this box idea!!! And good luck on the revisions!!!

Btw, my son doesn't go back to school for 3 more weeks. So my level of envy of you is on RED ALERT.

Missed y'all in LA.:( *sniff.

Lydia Kang said...

Ooh, I like the box idea. Can I used a notebook?

Solvang Sherrie said...

My kids still have a couple weeks to fool around. Today, we went bowling :)

I love the box idea. If only I had an attic to store it in...

Katie said...

I love this idea too. How basic. I have STACKS of manuscripts and little notes all over the place. Total chaos.

I love knowing you, my dear :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, what a cool idea! I can't believe your kids are back at school already. We still have over four weeks to go!

Emily J. Griffin said...

I bet this is a cool read.

Welcome back to the land of order and time to yourself. Take advantage of it while the girls are gone, so you can enjoy them when they're around.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I LOVE Twyla Tharp's book. It's brilliant.

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