16 May two things learned
a quicky blog today… as I was working on the large treatment I mentioned last week, I realized a couple things about my process. here they are:
1.) character backstories should be interesting.
most of the of the character backstories I wrote before were simple, matter or fact things.
Character X grew up here; went to this sort of school; had this sort of relationship with her parents; and so on. but with the writing of this project, I went DEEP into the lives of my characters, their success, failures, heartaches, and loves.
they ended up being fascinating. each character’s story seemed like it could be a movie on its own. I realized that I’d just set a new bar for myself and that was exciting. from now on, if the stories behind the characters in my stories aren’t compelling… I either need new characters or I need to “dig deeper” and make them so!
the next thing I learned was all about efficiency and resource management. which isn’t nearly as cool & sexy as a world building, but on a project with multiple moving pieces, also very important.
2.) I need a better way of organizing large amounts of material.
most of my writing (including this blog) is done in the “stickies” program on my mac. it’s a very, very simple text program. each window looks like a “post-it note”. there are no controls or formatting tools. there’s not even a scroll bar. I appreciate the simplicity and lack of clutter as I do my first passes on an idea. it almost feels like I’m sketching in a notebook or something.
but the absence of controls began to be a problem as the document got longer and longer. for example, the lack of scroll bar was problematic once I hit 5,000 words… and annoying above 10K, as it meant that I had to click and drag the cursor through ALL the text. no short cut to the end.
also, as the project became more complicated, I started to split it into different documents. for example, there were separate ones for:for the “treatment,” the “backstories,” the “timeline,” the “levels of rationing.” with all these different stickies I began to lose time looking for exactly what was in WHAT sticky. having a variety of information was good, but not being able to effectively access it was bad.
after some research, I decided to experiment with the program Evernote. I’m still not sure if it’s the best solution for me, but there are a few things I like about it.
the first is the ability to group documents in folders. I’d been using different color stickies for different projects, but I still ended up with ALL the stickies stickies being on the desktop at the same time. having separate folders lets me only worry about the group of documents I’m working on at that time.
the next thing about the program I’m digging is the ability to add “tags” and to search through the documents. hopefully this will help cut down on the “where is that one idea” sort of problem.
finally, the program has a one-click “backup to the cloud” function which gives me some piece of mind.
so for now I’m giving it a shot… I don’t know if it’s improved my efficiency yet, but at least it’s made my desktop a little less cluttered.
what about y’all – have you found any tools particularly useful in your creative process? do you have a favorite “productivity” app?