Where ideas come from

Returning to work after some time off always sees a drop in my productivity on the writing front. The waking up early, the commute, the hours spent doing mundane tasks… all of these take away from time I could spend dreaming up new worlds.

Let’s be honest. I barely wrote during my time off. That changes now.

My reading has seriously slowed since I finished We Need to Talk About Kevin, though I did manage to finish the first book of A Series of Unfortunate Events (more on that later). I watched the film with my husband, who said it seemed designed to be deliberately uncomfortable. I enjoyed his perspective on Eva Khatchadourian, he felt that the flashbacks interrupting her life gave good insight into the mind of a woman trying to move on after tragedy, yet constantly being held back by her own thoughts.

Instead of reading, I have been indulging my desire to watch old anime and play a new Square Enix game.

I have been watching Cardcaptor Sakura, then making animated GIFs from my favorite magical scenes. For those unfamiliar with the magical girl classic, it tells the story of young Kinomoto Sakura, who inadvertently scatters a set of magical cards when she opens a mysterious book in the basement of her house. She is tasked with recovering them and given a magical key that can unlock the power of the cards and seal them away to prevent the mischief they are so keen to cause in her town.

Naturally, when I was younger and first fell in love with the series, I wanted nothing more than to find and loose a deck of cards and then hunt them down, acquiring their powers as I captured them and made them my own. I enjoy her can-do attitude, the support of her friends and family, and her increasing self-assurance as she gathers together the 52 cards.

Then, the game. Bravely Default, which I have seen described as a mix of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics, with a bit of Final Fantasy IX for good measure. The story is secondary and standard (final) fantasy fare: crystals go dark, a group of four must fight their way from one to the next to light them once more, etc. I haven’t gotten too far in the story yet, I’m having too much fun fighting long strings of battles to increase my characters’ proficiency at various jobs. Since it’s for the 3DS, I can play to my heart’s content on the commute to and from work; the time has never flown by so quickly.

What’s great about shows and games and films is that they are all fodder for the imagination. A line in one might inspire a subplot in something I write, or a system of government, or a tragic event. In Bravely Default, there is a clash between two ideologies: the Orthodoxy, which basically believes in worshiping the  Four Crystals; and the Anticrystalist movement which believes these old traditions are holding the world back from progress. There is something similar in Project: Destiny, though there isn’t much conflict between the guild of shadeweavers and the Church of the Sun.

While I’m here… I’ve given some thought to redesigning the headquarters of the Guild of Colors. My latest draft has the guild residing in the Prismatic Tower, but there are an awful lot of towers in fantasy stories. Old ideas are not always the best ones.

My goal is to get another chapter of Destiny drafted by the end of the weekend. I’ll have to see how to squeeze that in with my household project; we’re painting the bedroom.

Pear productivity

Last month, Alexandra Needham commented on a post of mine suggesting a way to get more productive 25 minutes at a time.

pear timer

 

While shopping at the dollar store yesterday, I snagged this pear-shaped timer. After attempting to scare my cats with it (they were unfazed), I set it on my desk and planned to use it to boost my own productivity. That isn’t to say that I haven’t been productive lately; I got over 4,500 words out over the course of the last week. I also wrote in my personal journal, reminding myself that no matter how much faster I am at the keys, there is something special about seeing a page covered in my hurried scrawl. When I write longhand, I feel like I’m always in a race to get the thoughts out before I forget them.

I would like to try writing daily for 25 uninterrupted minutes as an exercise. If at the end of that time I still feel inspired, I will let that momentum push me forward and write more. While the pear is ticking, I will refrain from looking up definitions or points of research; the details can be sorted out later. I’ve already disabled spellcheck in Scrivener since I can’t force myself to ignore those squiggly red lines as I write. Typos be damned, proofreading is part of the editing process anyway, so I won’t let it interfere with this step.

I am on vacation again, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to form new habits.

Another thing I’d like to do this week is flesh out the page for Project: Destiny, which is currently pretty sad.

Then Bravely Default will come out Friday and my productivity will go down the toilet…