Chase Jarvis – Creative Calling – Pt.2

Last week I shared some takeaways from the first session of Chase Jarvis’ Creative Calling Bookclub – if you missed it then click here!

Week 2 was about focusing on the I.

  • I – Imagine what you want
  • D – Design a system to do it
  • E – execute the plan
  • A – Amplify

So Imagine what you want.

Then be creative and take it further – take it as far as it will go. Push the envelope. What does the want look like now?

As a writer my want might be to get book(s) published. I can push this further to, publish enough books to mean I can write full time. Plus, I want to publish a fiction book one year and a non-fiction book the next year.

Let’s keep being creative!

The fiction books I want to write will be a series and some stand alones. The non-fiction books I want to write will be sport based, focused on the teams I follow, spending a season with each. Other creative arts as well.

More creative!

Let’s not worry about bestsellers but add in a podcast and still sharing writer’s knowledge to help others on the journey. I’m pretty keen on music as well – and art – so maybe the odd book or the podcast can cover these subjects?

Where does this all leave me?

Planning!

I might not be a full time writer yet, but I can sure plan as if I was!

I can set out a three, five, or ten year plan – or all of them.

What books do I plan to write first? Fiction series – more chance of catching a book deal when there is the easy sell, several more similar to the one an editor/publisher might like. I want the fourth book I write to be non-fiction.

I’m going to develop a podcast alongside those first few books – writer’s craft and the other creative arts I’m interested in. Part of this development is to start talking with other creatives in these different fields. This is preparing the way for the non-fiction books.

All the time I’m developing and adding to the blog/website.

The timeline is the guide for me to get my butt in the seat researching and writing! It all might be completed slightly sooner or later. It almost doesn’t matter. I can adapt and adjust, so long as I keep researching and writing.

Whilst doing all of this I need to keep learning and take on board new stuff.

For this Chase Jarvis recommends the following – DEAR.

  • D – Deconstruct
  • E – Emulate
  • A – Action
  • R – Review

In all of the areas I have identified I need to Deconstruct – Look at the best in craft in the type of fiction and non-fiction I want to write. Listen to the best podcasts similar to what I want to produce.

Then I need to Emulate – I need to practice all of those good things I deconstructed from the best in the business.

I need to take Action – by analysing what I have produced and checking it against the guides and teachers from that original deconstructing.

Finally, Review – go back to the beginning and start all over again, with the new writers/podcasters who have risen to the top since I last looked.

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your 3 or 5 of 10 year plan?

A Tale of Two Writers – Michael Connelly and John Grisham

To begin at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive comparison of Connelly and Grisham. There will be plenty of writers/journalists out there who have already done this better than I can.

These are my thoughts and notes from a great interview with the two authors by the bookseller Waterstones, earlier this evening.

Connelly and Grisham have been writing for a similar length of time, around the thirty year mark. Both are bestseller authors.

Connelly writes novels with a number of repeating characters. Detective Harry Bosch is his mainstay, but then there is the Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller, journalist James McAvoy, and his latest detective Renee Ballard.

The majority of Grisham’s novels are stand alone, with only the recent ‘Camino’ stories being based on the same protagonist.

So, should you write serial characters as a new writer, or have a constantly refreshed cast? The success of both authors would seem to suggest its a tie on that score.

Connelly and Grisham both have work schedules which begin on January 1st.

They are both full-time writers and their writing habits reflect this.

Newer writers may have to work their writing in around other jobs, but there is a key point which is be disciplined. Whether you have all the time to write or practically no time, you have to sit down and write.

Connelly and Grisham both write in areas that they are very familiar with.

Connelly’s stories are very much based in Los Angeles and his previous career as a journalist covering crime clearly still has an influence on his work.

Grisham was a lawyer and most of his books are legal thrillers, with his latest ‘Camino’ books straying from that to a roguish bookseller.

I’m not a fan of the old adage ‘write what you know’, but both authors very much are of the opinion that you should write in areas which you are knowledgable.

What you know the best might not be your current career area. Your interest in sports or politics, cars or mental health, may be what you know best?

Whatever your key area of interest, make sure you keep up to date, read and watch everything you can find and look out for those story ideas.

Ploter or Pantser?

Connelly and Grisham both know what the end scenes are before they begin writing the first scene.

Grisham tends to be more heavily plotted than Connelly.

For you as a writer, plot or pants, but make sure you know where the end is before you start at the beginning.

Connelly and Grisham generally stay within their ‘genre’. Success probably has a part to play here, but they know the lay of the land and they find plenty of stories there.

Grisham has written non-fiction and sport-based stories.

As a writer you can jump around the genres but you will probably find more success in those areas of your knowledge and expertise.

Connelly and Grisham are both fans of Ian Rankin.

Connelly has had his Bosch stories made into a very successful Amazon TV series and a movie made of The Lincoln Lawyer.

Grisham has had a number of his books made into big movies, such as The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, and The Firm.

Both writers still see themselves as novelists and TV/Film are interesting side-tracks.

Writers write!

So what’s keeping you – get writing!

Connelly and Grisham could do with some competition!

Day 435 – The Saturday Answer.

So The Friday Question was What single thing/event would ‘supercharge’ your creative exploits?

In thinking of the question I was influenced by the exploits of current Tour de France leader Julian Alaphilippe. He is a great rider, currently No.1 in the World Rankings, but he is seen as a one-day and short tour specialist. His lead in the greatest cycle race in the world is definitely benefiting from the mysterious powers wearing the leader’s Maillot Jaune – the Yellow Jersey – can bestow upon a rider. Whether is is that extra bit of confidence, or the thought of losing it makes you dig a bit deeper, it does push the rider wearing it to new places.

So, my answer?

Having a separate writing space. A space where I essentially ‘clock’ in and out. A place where the focus is the work of writing and there aren’t other easy distractions. A place where projects are planned and scheduled for completion.

What was yours?

Day 421 – The Saturday Answer and Other Stuff.

Quick Recap – The Friday Question was: if you could have written one book, painted one picture, or performed/written one song – what would it be?

It is so easy to run off a list of at least a dozen books for this answer, but I’m going to be good and only give you the one.

If I could have written one book, it would be Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. There are so many reasons why but the cleanness of the narrative and the name of the main protagonist ‘Montag’ have always resonated with me.

(I am not a visual artist but if I was then Hokasu’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa would be the picture)

(I have written songs but will only confess to this in parenthesis, so the song would be Genesis’ Supper’s Ready)

The other stuff:

A couple of days of blue skies and I’ve realised just how depressing I find grey cloudy skies. It doesn’t even need to be warm, but it is always nice.

I’ve downloaded Rod Judkins’ The Art of Creative Thinking. I’m only on p.27 but he’s pulled out the cannons early on with quotes like this, ‘No masterpieces have ever been produced by a talented but lazy artist’.

Le Tour has arrived! The Tour de France 2019 has begun today. I will write some extra posts with the Tour as the back drop for the next 23 days. I will publish thoughts and observations a day after the actual stage in order to give me time to get the podium placings and other stage information straight. It will be very much a working document which I hope will come together as something more significant at the end.

Day 417 – Walking Slowly.

I read a list of productivity hacks. One of them was to walk faster.

Bruce Lee teaches a young pupil in Enter the Dragon and points at the moon with his finger. The pupil is chastised for looking at the finger and ignoring the splendour of the moon.

We can get wrapped up in either the process or the destination.

As creatives, both the process and the destination are equally important.

Walk slowly and take in the journey. Walk slowly and get to the destination.

Be the tortoise. A steady word count wins the day.

You can be the hare, but what did you miss along the way?

Your audience is just as interested in the journey as the destination.

Show those sketches and early versions, as well as the finished painting.

Some musicians have been releasing demo versions of songs on their special edition albums for a while now. They get the importance of the journey as well as the destination.

Walking slowly is okay.

Fiction Writer? Write Some Non-Fiction.

So you are a fiction writer and you want to get better?

Write some non-fiction.

Say what?

There is a lot of great non-fiction writers out there and you shouldn’t be ignoring them. You can learn a lot.

I am sports fan and read Sports illustrated each week. There is nothing like it in the UK, so it helps that I like the NFL.

The main feature writers are out-and-out storytellers.

Each week they find a story, set the stage, weave in the background, and then let loose with the excitement.

You want your stories to be realistic? These writers are taking ‘real’ and crafting a story out of it.

There is also a confidence in the writing based on the knowledge of the writer. How confident are you when you write your fictional scenes?

Give it a try. Write some non-fiction. I guarantee your fiction writing will be better for it.