The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seven Thoughts For Today

1) I can measure how much yoga I need by the way my body feels first thing in the morning. Cool, light, and flexible? A minimum. Heavy, stiff or sore? Add fifteen minutes on Yoga Days (Wednsday and Sunday)

2) Can feel that I'm a little off-balance. Handling the stress, but I'm not feeling a lot of emotional range--very focused. Have to go deeper, be more centered, give the Christmas season more time to kick in. Then again, the mid-way point between Thanksgiving and Christmas was when my Mom died. This time is always difficult.

3) Working on "Devil's Wake" after Tananarive took her run-through is interesting. We have some different takes on characters and situations. Nothing too extreme, but it needs full attention.

4) And full attention is hard to come by because of the TACFIT Warrior launch. I've been doing this exercise for the last month, and conclude that it works superbly as a stand-alone exercise system, but even better (for me) as part of an overall program. Because the emphasis is enhanced neurological efficiency, the motion becomes pretty darned complex at the higher levels (the basic levels are pretty easy). For those of us who are already flexible, balanced, and strong, you can get through the first three exercises (of six) with a smile. Then...the horror hits. Wow. When cumulative fatigue enters as a factor, "breezing" through the last three exercises is a mournful fantasy. This is serious work. And the guided coaching auditory track--I love and HATE that guy. Yeah, it's me. And I can hear myself curse at me, in my head. I remember back twenty-odd years ago when the "Firm" videos came out, and Toni and I used to curse the "Nazi bitch" who barked orders at us and hinted that we were lilly-livered couch potatoes. Fun to hear the voices in your head rebel against the idea that you are stronger and more powerful than you think. You think we'd EMBRACE the idea of our own excellence. Sadly, that simply isn't as true as it could be.

5) Doing five pages a day on the TWELVE DAYS screenplay. I'm following one character through the story at a time, just seeing what each character knows about the situation. And the situation in this story is pretty grave, threatening the stability of the entire world. Fun to create a story with that kind of sweep, but also a LOT of intimacy: most of the story is told through the eyes of the mother of an autistic child, an ex-military man on the edge of dishonor, and a spunky and perceptive reporter. We'll see if I can keep the circle tight.

6) Tananarive is teaching at Antioch University this week. More pressure, for all of us. Must remember to breathe, and keep a sense of humor about it all. There is so much to celebrate in life...and so easy to get swamped in the minutia. Big Picture time.

7) I'm reading "Henry V" now. Just finished "Hamlet." Reading one scene of Shakespeare aloud every day is a tremendous ritual. I don't have the time to read everything I'd like, but at the very least I can ensure that a chunk of my input is the highest possible quality. I do believe you could combine Shakespeare with the bestselling writer of your choice (say, Stephen King) and have a pretty good foundation for a writing career.

Such rituals are critical to building what I refer to as "the machine" or "the garden". This is the automatic, ritual-driven aspect of our writing, the actions engrained to the point of unconscious competence.

The pieces are

1) Input. Reading. Read ten times as much as you write, and a level UP from your intended result.

2) Output. A story a week, or every other week, until you are published regularly. THEN it is permissible to work on longer projects., to the tune of 2-5 pages a day.

3) Flow State. Improving the ability to enter flow deeply and swiftly.

All of this can be implemented in the Diamond Hour. Fifteen minutes of Shakespeare, thirty minutes of writing, maybe fifteen minutes of joint rotations or yoga. That's sixty minutes of bliss, work, and health. Not bad.

And the beautiful thing is that if I just do nothing but this, at the end of a year I'll be healthy and will have produced two books. That's not bad for an hour a day!

How can YOU plan a "perfect hour" to move you toward your goals?


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Anonymous said...

Wow...I never thought about it that way. Here I was calling myself writing a book in a year...dividing pages into days...this process is much more efficient. This way I can write, whatever it is that I feel, and tie them end together at the end of the year. All while keeping a sane mind...thanks.