Writing about writing – The process, the blocks and the joys

Project Managing the Writing Process

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Finally, let me share about my writing.  Since getting back to that was the motivation for starting this blog.

I have several books in progress, some more than 20 years.  No excuses that is sad.  It is because writing has been a “someday” after “I have the finances better” or when” I can take time off from work.”  Excuses, Excuses.

One of the skills I use with my work is managing projects and some of them are managed over several months.  So it occurred to me last April, that I need to manage my writing this way.  I am proud to say projects I manage do well even when they have hard deadlines, so why not bring this success to a part of my life that has had very little focus until now.

Successful project management has four distinct features to it:

  1. A solid attainable goal.
  2. Distinct measurable milestones that can be met
  3. Clear process that moves you to each milestone
  4. Accountability

If you start here you can complete anything on a schedule.

For now I am not focusing in the idea of priorities, which for events and software is key. Knowing what can be cut and when it needs to be cut will save a project.  When does a priority warrant a change of a milestone deadline vs. removing that item from the project to keep the schedule?  This is where many projects fail, people are not able to agree to a change and than act on it and they miss deadlines or deliver projects that have an unfinished feel because they rushed at the end, vs removing a task for a later date of just eliminating it.

Our book right now is more about sustainable progress towards a goal that can be moved, but progress must continue.  I have developed a project process that is doing that. Continue reading

Reclaiming the Creative Spirit

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There was a time when I created because of “the jazz.”  This is my own term for my creative spirit.  It’s hard to quantify an energy that comes from the very act of creation driven by the anticipation of sharing that creation with others.  For me “the jazz” lived a long time ago, when I was a child, when I was a teenager, when I was just learning to be an adult.

As kid I started my first book, “The House in the Field” based on a heroic nightmare I had. I would pound away at my 1908 Underwood typewriter until my ten-year-old fingers were too sore to type.  I never finished it, but there was no deadline and no “in order to make money” I just had story that had to be told. That drove me through lots of finger pain.

When I grew older I discovered the early personal computer.  I would write programs in paper notebooks to take to school and type into the TRS-80 with cassette drive that the school had been given.   Later I would write programs that sometimes took weeks of work.  One of my largest projects was an old text adventure for the Commodore PET computer,  “Escape from Nightmare Manor”.   This was writing, storytelling and programming.  The code was written in  my paper notebook while I was attending Western Washington University during the week, then on the weekend I would type my program into the computers at the Pacific Science Center where I worked.  Again, I made no money from this, it was a passion to create a more interesting adventure for people to play on the computer. When completed, I watched people pay over $50 in computer time rental just to solve my adventure game.  Affirmation like that will nurture the creative spirit.

At age 22 it was easy to feel unstoppable.  I knew that I could accomplish any task and that it is worth the cost in time.  Then IT came, FAILURE.  The truth that I am stoppable, that after tens of hours and lost opportunities, the result can be failure.  It was in 1985 that I discovered failure.  Not a small failure, but a large visible failed computer project that created large amounts of pressure.   For 26 years my spontaneous creative spirit was lost to me. Continue reading