Do You Need to Know the Ending?

This is a “yes, but” situation.

Yes: If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you chart a course to get there?

A whole lot can happen in the middle, some of which might take you by surprise and affect the ending, but when you pull out your star charts, and man the ship’s wheel all night, closing the distance between you and your destination is the point. No destination, and you might just sail around in circles.

Think through your story, to know where it begins and how it will proceed to a satisfying and believable conclusion.

If you discover that the story doesn’t hold up, or a character isn’t working, or that the ending is all wrong, you will have to step back, throw out what isn’t working, and plan your story anew.

This sense of change, of flux, of being available to your talents and instincts even when they require that you set a new  course, has sometimes been described as the story writing itself.

So yes, you absolutely need to know your ending and aim for it if you expect to get there . . .

But: a secure writer, trusting in his process, will move with his story, instead of against it.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: ship’s wheel by Stephen Glenn; stars by howardedin.com

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.

Relax.  You’re good. Hey, have you heard? Nothing stays the same.

This year, Pluto was downgraded from a planet.

Narcissism was demoted from the status of a psychological disorder.

And we’re not the same writers we were a year ago, either. We have matured, which is the prize of a working life.

These past weeks, I’ve collected what seem like for me anyway the striking observations of the writing year—the highs, lows, and surprises.

Come January, I will spread this data out and study the consistencies, the patterns, and the ups and downs.  I will pay particular attention to the odd fact that resists explanation, which is always a learning opportunity. And from this, a picture of sorts of the recent past, I will lay out what I hope will be a decent writing plan for the year—one that suits my temperament, talent, and objectives.

My New Year’s resolutions are, thus, a deepened version of last year’s:

Simplify

Be Planful

The first requires the strength to pitch out everything that doesn’t matter.  And the second is just a highly strategic list.

Cheers, all. A great year begins. See you in January.

P.S. Happy birthday to this blog. One year old, today!

Photo credit: Champagne – viticulture-oenologie-formation.fr; birthday cake – Christy Thompsony

How to Spend your Money

Much has been written on how to make money. Here’s a word on how to spend it in service of your work.

1.  Recognize, please, that at the heart of any creative undertaking is a gamble.

2.  So, put aside your dream, all fuzzy and fantastic, and set the cold, hard plan. State the goal in a single, clear sentence. Break it into pieces, and turn each piece into an action list with deadlines and measures of success. And with this critical thinking complete, buy or barter a couple of hours of an expert or two’s time to critique it.

3.  Next, acquire the tools. A budget sets the parameters on any spending but it isn’t a pair of handcuffs.  A seamstress, for example, can’t do much without cloth, but I did see one once who did wonders with Handy Wipes stitched into a wild wardrobe.  And there was another who made her clothing out of candy wrappers. Both had the press trailing after them, the investors not long behind.

4.  Get some education. Read. Study your betters, and take advantage of what’s online. Much of it is free. Short bursts add up. Just keep them coming.

5.  Then run your game, each action item managed with a ruthless eye, each piece moved strategically toward your goal. Keep track of every dime.

6.  But reexamine periodically. Buy or barter help to find your blind spots. See what’s leaking cash. Learn why. This will hurt—maybe even a lot—but improvement is guaranteed.

7.  Then go back to work. Make some changes. Test. Persevere.

At the end of the day, at the end of the quarter, every outgoing dollar has to count. If you can do that, it will take some risk out of your gamble. But if you can’t make an expenditure count, don’t spend the dollar.

Photo credit: dollar bill – David Siqueira; candy – Chris Chidsey, both stock.xchng