Sunday, November 5, 2006

The 10 Day Challenge

Smoking Status:
Over the past four days I've had a total of 9 cigarettes.
I stopped having my morning 1 or 2 and replaced it with drinking my coffee in my room while doing my millionaire mindwork.Talk about a positive change of habit! I also realized that if I kept up at my current rate, due to the expensive brand I smoke, I would be spending almost $1,000 per year on cigarettes. Now that's enlightening.

Novel Status:
The word count is actually coming down now, due to tightening the manuscript during the final polish. I'm on page 110 of 160 and heading for home...

On the Reading Pile:
After reading the fabulous On Writing by Steven King, I was encouraged to read more fiction. I've been reading an unusual amount of non-fiction over the past few years (unusual for me, that is). I've gone through Freakonomics (recommend), The Tipping Point (recommend), Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (recommend), Screenwriting: the Sequence Approach (recommend for screenwriters), and more.

Madame Bovary - Not my choice. The student I'm tutoring has to write a paper on it, and since I haven't read it in 18 years, I'm reading it again. The writing is lovely, but I find the detail a bit tedious.

Angela's Ashes - Yes, technically it's an autobiography and therefore non-fiction. But it is a narrative story. I may not finish it, though. It's starting to be repetative. Yes, I get that the family is tragically poor and the father drinks all the money away and the kids are sick and starving and living in Limerick sucks... I love the way he writes dialogue. I just feel like I'm wading through mud.

Plus I'm reading a script for a client. (A repeat customer - woo-hoo!)

The 10 Day Challenge - What's it all about?

I do a 10 Day Challenge of some sort 4 or 5 times a year. It's a great way to get started on a project or push through to the end of a project, kill writer's block, and create good habits. It's completely personal. There are no rules except that you have to complete the assignment every day for 10 days IN A ROW. If you miss a day, you have to start over.

Make the challenge something that's doable, winnable and within your control (as they say in The Mastery). If you want to work on a novel, maybe the challenge is to write 3 pages a day, or 2 pages a day, or even 1 page a day. Whatever you can do. In the past, Tod and I challenged each other to write a short script per day for 10 days. Some were dumb. But there are a few that have become my favourite short scripts. The last challenge I wrote 500 words a day on my novel (after I discovered that 5 pages of writing a novel takes a lot longer than 5 pages of writing a screenplay).

It doesn't have to be about writing, either. Or any kind of art. It could be to read a book for 1/2 hour a day. Take a walk every day. Wake up at 6 AM every day. Whatever it is you want to do.

I started my current challenge on Monday. My goal is to query one agent a day for 10 days. I had already queried one agent before I started and I've added three more. I've listed them below with their responses and response times in case you're curious. The response time is taken from the day I sent my query to the final result. Many agents take queries via e-mail now, which speeds up the response time. Works for me!

agent - action/response - result - response time

Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary Agency) - asked for partial - "not a match" - 10 days

Michelle Andelman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) - sent partial - "not for her but recommended two other agents and called my writing "lovely" - 2 days

Jen Jaeger (Andrea Brown (as per Michelle's referral)) - sent partial - waiting for response

Amy Tipton (Peter Rubie Literary Agency) - sent query - waiting for response

So, as per my challenge, there will be 7 more names on this list in a week!

Now... are you up for it? Sure you are! Let us know what your 10 day challenge is.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Procrastination Part Three - Daydreaming

Smoking Status:
total yesterday: 3
total today: 5 (including the one I'm going to have after blogging)
Not bad. I think my average is going down. Although I know eventually, it will have to be cold turkey.

Novel Status:
Word Count: 41,990
I had finished my final hard-copy edit and transferred the info for the first three chapters... so I went ahead and sent in my query to Nelson Literary Agency (thinking I had lots of time to transfer the rest of the editing marks). FIFTEEN HOURS after I sent my e-mail query, they wrote back to me asking for the first 30 pages. I did one final edit of the first three chapters and Fed Exed them in (or at least, Tod did for me from the U.S. - thanks, Tod!). Whew! No matter what happens next, I'm proud of myself for sending my query and delighted that it actually worked. Now I'm visualizing a big smile on Kristin Nelson's face as she reads it.

... which brings me to today's procrastination device: daydreaming.

I've always been a daydreamer. I used to get harassed about it as a teen (my best friends would call me “air-head” – thanks, guys). But it’s always worked for me and I’m not about to stop now. The key is to become a focused daydreamer. That way it becomes creative visualization. And creative visualization is an excellent way to manifest what you want in your life. It’s very productive, actually, even though it seems like you’re not doing much at all (or even being “idealistic” or “getting your hopes up” as some of my more cynical friends might say).

You can poo-poo the idea, but I’ve done my fair share of manifesting out of creative visualization. There’s my wonderful husband, our cool house, my cool jobs, my screenwriting agent, and smaller things, like a free pair of boots (I was daydreaming about boots, I needed comfy warm boots for the winter. An hour later Rev. Angelica called asking me what size shoe I wore because she had some boots that were too small for her. They were warm and comfy). A few times when I was very low on cash and out of work, I sat in the kitchen thinking about the phone ringing, visualizing myself picking it up and being offered a job. That’s worked a few times.

There are only a few literary agents for screenwriting in Vancouver. And once I had decided which one was mine, I got to work. Several of my close friends know I used to visualize myself riding up in their elevator, meeting with the agent, etc. etc. Whenever I passed by, whether I was alone or with a friend, I would point up to the seventh floor of their building and say, “That’s my agency up there. My agent is up there. See my agent?” I daydreamed long and hard on that one. It took two years. Of course, I worked on several scripts over those two years and kept in touch with them until I finally hit them with something they really liked. It wasn’t as easy as a pair of boots, but it’s the same concept.

So lately I’ve been daydreaming in coffee shops (when I go to work on my novel). I visualize my book in the window display of bookstores. I visualize book reviews in the papers. I see myself giving readings to thousands of people. (That’s easy to do… I’ve been on stage many times and I know what a big crowd looks like, so I just cut and paste those images together). I visualize myself on a red carpet opening for the movie. And just for kicks, I’ve been visualizing myself on Oprah. Hey, you gotta daydream big.