Eibon Films Horror, Fantasy and SciFi writer / filmmaker and friend of the weird

3Jan/160

2016 – My creative resolutions and goals

Last year, I did one of these posts, explaining what creative activities I was planning on focusing on in 2015 (original article HERE). So how did I do with those resolutions and goals and what will 2016 bring?

The short version:

  • Not so well. 5 out of 8 aint bad.
  • Will tackle the other 3 this year.
  • Still fighting the good fight.
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29Dec/150

2016 will bring editing

Today I printed the rough draft of MUTAGENE - my nanowrimo zombie novel from 2014.
Mutagene_Rough_Draft.JPG
2016 will definitely produce a 2nd draft of it. I've printed it to go through it and painstakingly highlight it and mark it up, ready for editing, in the new year. I've ignored it and my other nanowrimo novel for too long. There's always a reason to work on something else. But I will bring one of them forward at least!
 
It's quite astounding that my tiny mind conjured up a 379 page novel. But also that I've still got another novel left to edit.... the question now is, are they any good????
I'm also going to devote some time to reflecting on how I've done in 2015 - with regard to following my goals. And looking at setting some new creative goals for 2016.
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20Dec/150

You just write…right?

I've finally stepped up to the keyboard and started throwing words at the page. Apologies, if in doing so I've gone quiet of late, but I've edited over 1700 words of this long short story / short novella (I'm never really sure where some of my work fits when speaking of length - as traditional metrics don't really seem to work for me when defining the type of story it is). I've added in 400 words from a new scene that I think more effectively sets up the finale and explains something important about the secondary protagonist.

I'd like to say that it's taken a real effort, but actually, it's anything but. What it actually took was a couple of days to recover from my work demands, from a gruelling 3 day, 3 city workshop tour which had me working long into each night, to sleep, to meditate, to get all of the fun stuff out of the way, the chores that were distracting me - any active procrastinators will know how appealing such things suddenly become - and watch the shows I'd been dying to watch, and to just give it a try. Here's the recipe that sometimes works for me:

  • Turn off the TV
  • put on Holosync - the Dive and Immersion - audio meditation tools.
  • Start writing in my journal and let the fingers warm up and find all the keys.
  • And then find the meaning again.

The TV is a distraction. Sometimes its one that helps. But today it was not. And so are the other chores and tasks that you know need to be done. You can only put off your life so long before it gets in the way. But ultimately if you start working, you will start working.

As a friend often used to say to me at work: J.F.D.I it. (Just.F*cking. Do.It)

It works for me. Even if I don't always get to it in the most direct of routes.

I hope all of your creative endeavours are going well.

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11Dec/150

Editing hell

onlinestopwatch

I've realised that I really don't like editing fiction. I don't mind it so much in screenwriting - because whittling and honing those sentences is much more straightforward and once the structural issues are resolved, it's almost fun. But for fiction, there seems to be inumerable and more significant impacts from every edit that I make. But more importantly the choice of words is under a much greater scrutiny.

I think the edits that I performed on PIG SWEAT BLUES have ruined me for my current fiction editing - despite the power that was refined and the gem that was uncovered. It's the first time I've actually dreaded doing any writing and found any excuse to do anything but. It's almost as if I am dreading delivering this next edit to my beta readers / proof readers and in turn subjecting my baby to another [critical] kicking. But I simply need to man-up and to stop making excuses and get the hell on with it!

Yes I've been tired. The trip I took to rest and recuperate and concentrate on my writing proved to be anything but. I was severely sleep-deprived on my return. But now I've managed to recuperate some and I can no longer use it as an excuse. I have to overcome this reticence to connect with my creative intention. Otherwise I need to give up. Because I can't simply write for fun and leave it all unfinished and unread.

As a reaction to this editing. I've been looking into the Pomodoro technique. I stubled across it from a random route, during a course on learning techniques. And I decided to apply it on my day job, during a period of low energy. I found it a very simple and straightforward way to carve up a day's work and then to ensure that I completed the priority tasks. And it did help to inject some direct energy into that day. There's even loads of handy free and paid apps to help you do it - if you can't find a simple food timer to use, or don't want to use your smart phone clock.

Now the real task ahead is to carve this beast of an edit up into Pomodoro's and then trek through it, 25 minute slot by 25 minute slot.... I'm 1,400 words in. 8,000 lef to go.

This is grind. This is not glamour. This is a war on purple prose and it will be won by every yard of territory gained. And I am well aware that it will need repeat grind to elevate it. But if I ever want to go back to my Nanonovels, I need to do this.

 

 

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7Nov/150

Mind Map – finally teaching myself to outline and plot

With Nanowrimo 2016 happening, and the usual helpful and inspirational posts on writing techniques and tips flying around, I've been reading up on how to outline / Plot stories. This is especially pertinent, as I am in the middle of writing 2 new short stories, and rewriting a third. Plot and structure are very much on my mind. However, I am not doing Nanowrimo - just to be clear.

One of the excellent articles I read was this one: HOW I USE A MIND MAP TO BUILD STORIES by Paul Donovan Campos on Ian Broome's blog. There's an excellent explanation of his technique, with example screenshots that fully demonstrate the technique. Please go there are read it.

As a result of that article, I've built a template for my own use, but put it up for you guys to use and download HERE. It's built in Scapple - built by the same company behind the excellent Scrivener writing tool. If you don't use Scapple or Mac OSX, it won't be much use to you. Sorry. But for those that do, I hope you find it useful.

Please let me know if you're using it and if there are any potential improvements that could be made. 🙂

Mind Map scapple

Mind Map screenshot from Scapple

Download the Scapple Mind Map template I created here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/glb9j5lrsuatcb8/Blank_MindMap_Story.scap?dl=0

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22Oct/150

PIG SWEAT BLUES finished

Yesterday the rebirth of an old tale called PIG SWEAT BLUES was finally finished. Let's await the verdict of whether it makes the grade 🙂  .

Meanwhile I'd like to thank Matthew Sanderson and Christopher Alan Broadstone for royally kicking my *ss over the rewrite / edits of this new and improved version - all for the greater good. You sods 🙂 .

PSB is a tale that was very loosely inspired by this documentary: SLAUGHTERHOUSE: THE TASK OF BLOOD (2005) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I41IYWb_Mus - although much of the early research came from doing research stuff for a company that designed futuristic computerised abattoir systems. It's where I first had the glimpse of an idea about a young lad abused in the Shambles, who later takes his revenge on the whole town and the guy who drove him to it.

I wanted to unleash a furious fictional vengeance on a town I once lived in; it was a town I hated. And - although I know this is not the case everywhere, the worst people I met in that town worked in the shambles or the kitchens that I washed pots in. It was a dry run for a future novel - a great writing exercise. I was happy to get a glimpse of my protagonist and to see his world - and then to take the bare bones of what I needed, to then flesh them out elsewhere; ultimately unleashing a shit storm upon them.
Anyway - thanks guys. You're awesome - and I apologise for cursing your names often whilst going through this *&%king process. 🙂

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8Jan/150

2015 – my creative resolutions and goals

As previously mentioned, in my last post, I was quite chuffed with the results of my efforts trying to keep up with my resolutions and goals for 2014; despite a challenging day job and the fact that I had to put some creative goals on hold in order to fulfil my non-creative life goals (such as relocating to a new country). it was far from easy. But with the help of some very understanding loved ones and friends, I was able to make them happen.

This year I am hoping will be no exception. I have distinct creative goals in mind and here they are.

CREATIVE GOALS FOR 2015:

 

I want to:

  1. Finish / rewrite my Nanowrimo 2014 novel (MUTAGENE) and self-publish it. This will be the primary goal and will dominate everything else this year.
  2. Write the entire first draft of a new feature script. It's an aspiration, but I have some contenders that are jockeying for position inside my brain and fighting to get out.
  3. Rewrite one existing feature screenplay for circulation. I have 4 perfectly good feature film scripts sitting around doing nothing. Each of them needs a rewrite. And I think I need to learn more rewriting skills, so I should definitely set about doing this. Nothing of mine is ever ready after one draft. 
  4. Read more more screenplays - and study 1 a month. I think it would be good to rebuild my grasp of story structure, style and pacing and help me to see the flaws in my own writing.
  5. Circulate my short scripts for critical feedback and possible acceptance from a production company. Why have 12 of them sitting around doing nothing? it's stupid. 6 of them are definitely worthy of production. They've just not found the right home to love them.
  6. Finish the edit of one of my, as yet unfinished, short films. I have two unfinished films. Neither is perfect and that drive for perfection is why they are dormant and unfinished. Even if they suck I will get them to a point where I can at least put them out there for ridicule. 😉
  7. Do more writing courses this year. I haven't yet decide which area should dominate - screenwriting or prose - but I will have a better sense once I've dug into my Nanowrimo novel and looked at it's imperfections.
  8. Read more books and articles on my craft. I went through a splurge of buying more books last year. Buying them doesn't help you if you don't read them!
So that is more than enough to be going on with, even though it is not a nice standard number like 10 things to focus on. But I'm not bothered by convention. And don't be limited by my rules. If you only have 1 goal, that's cool. If you have 0 goals, that's worrying to me - but I'm not you. If you have 20, then good luck. That's a lot to manage. 🙂

You'll notice that there isn't much new film production listed above. It doesn't mean that I can't change my mind later if something good enough comes along. Right? None of this is set in stone. But each of these will help me to further my craft and contribute to my happiness and wellbeing - even though I'm setting myself quite a challenge. And to me, filmmaking is one of those goals that's impossible to manage if it is collaborative and dependent on others. It's fine if I come up with a solo project to work on, e.g. an animation.

So why do we need goals?

Why wouldn't you want to push yourself? If you're reading this, then you have an aspiration to create something. There's a flame of desire that is most certainly flickering within, even if you can't see it. And what better way to fan the flame then to set yourself some small, measurable and achievable goals that will eventually help you to find the creative path you really wish that you  were on?

The best goals are SMART goals:

  • Specific – targeted toward a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantifiable or indicative of being able to measure progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – you need to consider what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources / luck. So don't hold yourself to ransom if they're dependent on others. try to make them things that you can realistically achieve on your own.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved in this calendar year so that you can later measure if you hit them. And yes, the clock is ticking. But if you pick smart, small goals, you can always set a specific date - like "I will enter this screenwriting competition, by the deadline which is: DATE".

Should I share my goals?

 You don't have to share it. But if you do, you'll be surprised by how many people who care about you may offer to help you or understand when you need to put your goals before their desire for instant gratification. And there's always a benefit to be gained from putting yourself out there, to have people check up on you and make you stick to them.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do - if you choose to wing it, or if like me you'd like to set about defining your own goals!
If you share them here in the comments, I'd be happy to read them.

 

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31Dec/142

Obligatory end of year post [WARNING – may contain nuts!]

Feeling enthusiastic about the coming year? I am. Very much so.

I don't mean to sound smug, but unlike the previous [bleak] most recent years 2014 was a productive year for me. I stuck to my goals and completed all but 2 of them; including relocating to Sweden to continue to pursue my happiness, giving up a perfectly good job, renting my house out and throwing myself into the unemployment pool, setting up my own company and then luckily finding a new job - with my first happy clients. All so that I could be where I felt I needed to be, do what I felt I needed to do with my life and ultimately, because my life felt like a trap. It felt stagnant and I felt like I was doing nothing with it; at least nothing that I wanted to be doing.

Some of the creative things I was proud of:

  • I made more films earlier in the year - not for public consumption. Merely for fun and to get back into making films. We even had a club going at work, where we each made a 'Ten Second Film' a week; purely to prove to each other that creativity was possible for anyone and there was a way to tell a story with a variety of methods and everyone came to the same story theme from a completely different perspective and often using very different techniques and tools. Want to know more about how this works?
  • I wrote a novel as part of Nanowrimo 2014. Yes it still needs to be rewritten, but it's down - out of my head and on the page.
  • I joined two writing groups (one for writing and one for critique) - in order to overcome my shyness and seek out others, to help look at my work objectively and constructively and also to see if I could be of assistance to others. I made some new friends in a new country and I'm sure that it will be a great help in 2015.
  • I took a few online courses to help learn my craft. And I read every article that seemed relevant to what I was trying to achieve - in order to learn more.
  • I also sought out more books on my craft. And I downloaded any free screenplay that I could get my hands on - I suspect that 2015 will be very much about reading more of those scripts and learning form the best.
  • I wrote something almost every day - even if it was my journal or some short #VSS tales in Twitter; something I was never good at before.
  • I used meditation to help fight my way out of creative blocks / writing block.

I'm currently setting my goals for 2015 and I'm looking forward to using more of what this great online community / the interwebz has to offer - attend more courses, develop and refine my writing skills and seek more professional critical feedback and to also help others, where I can, to achieve some of their goals. This year was a rehearsal, to see if I could still muster the gumption to take this seriously and invest serious amounts of time and energy. I did it. But I can give more. Much more.

More on my goals in the new year. I tend to like to let them simmer for a bit to see which ones fight to the surface more.

But if I may be so bold, can I suggest that we all help each other to get a step further up the path to creative freedom and feel the buzz of a little more success!

Have a great 2015 all!! Don't fight the good fight alone! Let me know if I can help in any way in 2015.

Oh and here's the [random] Nuts.

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15Dec/140

Research – increase your Google power

there's a brilliant infographic here - http://madhatteragency.com/search-google-like-champ/

That really explains how you can use Google to its true effectiveness, maximising the time you'd waste searching through pages of bad results that come back from a lazy search.

Try it. I think you'll like it:

Infographic pic link

Screenshot of start of infographic

 

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12Dec/140

Life After Nanowrimo – what now?

So I finished Nanowrimo, and then like the survivors of great battles and those that complete marathon races, I had a very bad case of fatigue and I was overcome with a serious case of 'What the f$%k do I do now?'

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 12.09.03

 

I made sure of course that I backed up all of my files; multiple times (in Drop box, One Drive, USB, External backup) and - as I was using Scrivener, made sure I took a snapshot of the work, before I ever go back and then sat there, twiddling my thumbs. There as lots of twiddling. Lots of doubt. Lot’s of house cleaning and social engagements to fill up my time predominantly, but when in front of a computer - and starting at a blank screen - still faced with the same question: What to do?

I very much wanted to rest MUTAGENE - my Nano novel - and wait a while before revisiting it for editing / rewriting purposes. There are some plotting / planning activities and exercises I can still do on it, if I get desperate. But I wanted a break from it. After all, things had grown stagnant and we both needed to see other people. Or at least I needed some fun.

So I trawled back through my folders, trying to work out which of my other legacy projects was in need of love - as I didn't have any burning new ideas to work on at that moment. That's when I realised that I not only had one candidate, a short story I'd forgotten about (called ADRIFT), I also stumbled across a feature script I'd completely forgotten that I'd written (for a Script Frenzy competition a few years back)! Such a shambles. Such disorganised folders and files! And entrusting my faulty memory to guiding me clearly wasn't working all that well. I decided that I needed to come up with a more appropriate plan to manage my writing projects.

After some soul searching, and some web searching, I realised that I needed a tool, like a database to track / catalogue every single idea, and I then needed to track which ideas then get worked on and when they become ready for circulation or publication.

I had three options:

  • an online writing database tool, such as writersdb and QueryTracker.
  • using Ulysses or Scrivener to track all of my projects; or
  • building my own tool to track all of my ideas and projects.

It wouldn't be fun building such a tool, or populating it. But afterwards I would be in a much better position to track each idea through to completed project, and track my career more professionally - e.g. evaluate how much money I'd paid for editing surfaces, or been paid for successful story submissions, or for contest submission fees for scripts etc. I'd then have enough data to take stock of how things were progressing and make a judgement as to whether, like any business, it was still worth pursuing; or if torn between taking different roads, I'd have more than a gut feel to direct my decisions.

I didn't really feel a need to track my writing each day, as that data would sit within Scrivener, or could easily be tracked in each project if I wanted to. And I was wary of my data being online, and being restricted to someone else's design. And although I saw how someone else was using Scrivener to do their project management, it didn't resonate with me. Seemed overly bloated and cumbersome. I wanted something small and portable. So I turned to what I know - I know spreadsheets. I know Excel.

So here's what I built:

An excel sheet that has a project tracker tab: that tracks the name, type of project, genre (for film and prose), what stage it is in and what draft no and what is the latest file version.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.52.43

 

It also has a second tab for tracking submissions - once you’ve ushered a project through to completion on the first tab, you go to the tab called ‘Manuscript Script Submissions’ - for screenplays you submit to competitions or production companies, or manuscripts you submit to publishing companies or literary markets - and the feedback or decisions you get on that work, that may help you shape how you later go back to the rewrite / edit stage.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.53.17

 

The drop downs are populated on a third tab - so you can edit the field to your heart’s content and customise it to fit.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.53.32

 

DOWNLOAD THE FILE HERE: 

PROJECT TRACKER V1.0 Alpha 

Please do download it. Give it a whirl. It’s nothing fancy. But it works for me. 

Feel free to try it out, if you think that it might be useful for you also. If you change it, I'd love to know why and how, in case it may be useful to put it into a new version to share with others. And also, if you think it's flawed - please let me know and I'd gladly consider any amends. I’m especially curious to know if there’s anyone else out there in the same boat, with more ideas than organisation.

For now, I've got some data to populate into this thing. I've got one short story to write. And then I need to plan how I intend to start my Nano novel editing / rewrite process; come January I want a proper plan in place.

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