Thursday, May 26, 2011

Board Meeting of the Mind

First of all, I want to remind you all that the deadline of our short story contest is coming up fast.  Quit dilly dallying and get writing!  Now maybe you are like me and sit down at the computer to write but stare at a blank screen wondering why you can't write.  I am a firm believer that my ability to write or not to write is all in my head.  So how do we organize our minds and make them work for us?  I think you know by now that I like to talk to myself and assign different roles to imaginary people in my head.  (Yes, I'm crazy, Yes, my husband knows.)  I have what I call my inner writing team which consists of my project manager, my inner editor, my source person (where my ideas come from), and my creative self.  I also have an inner critic which I have fired...many times. Imagining meetings with these roles helps me to see my goals in a new light and to see them as achievable.  Knowing that I have the talent and the know-how inside gives me the confidence I need to move forward and make my goals happen. Now I am going to take you where no one has gone before...The Board Meeting of Nikki's Writing Team!

Nikki walks in and takes her seat at the head of the long table.  Everyone is there so it's time to proceed. 
"I just want to thank you all for coming.  I called this meeting to discuss the Knight of Dreams writing project.  The first draft went really well with everyone here putting in their best effort, but since December there has been no progress.  Now I believe in this story and the abilities of each individual in this room.  We need to work together again to get this novel done and publishable.".
Everyone nods their heads and Nikki knows it's time for the reports.  She turns to the project manager first.  "P.M. how do you see the logistics of this project?".
P.M. stands and goes to a chart at the front of the room.  He points at the bar graph as he begins, "As you can see from this chart, the time spent actually writing is almost non existent.  Work, kids, husband, house, and even time spent on the T.V. and the Internet are all overwhelming the schedule.  Our first task is to manage our time more wisely."
Nikki nods her agreement, "Yes, but how do we do that in your opinion?"
P.M. pulls another chart from behind the first.  "This is a daily schedule for the summer.  There is time worked into each day for writing.  There are several blank spots as well to fill in with spontaneous things as needed, but the writing times must be honored everyday.  There is no reason we can't finish the complete rewrite this summer if we stick to the schedule". 
"Thank you, P.M."  Nikki turns to the editor, "Ed, how are the plans for the rewrite going?".
"I read the whole first draft and was pleasantly surprised.  This story has lots of potential."
Ed looks over at the creative director who blushes at his comment.  He smiles encouragingly at her and continues.   "The first draft however really was lacking in depth and direction in a lot of places, but it is a great start.  I have written several outlines that can be used in the rewrite.  There is a pacing outline, a meet in the middle plot outline, 4 seven point plot structures including a seven point structure for the romance, the real world, the character arc, and the overall plot.". 
"Good job, Ed.  It sounds like you really put a lot of thought into it.  Are the outlines flexible?  We need to allow creative freedom in all of this so that our best potential can be met.".
"Absolutely!  These are only outlines designed to keep the story moving in the right direction."
"Thank you, Ed" Nikki then looked to the other side of the table.  She decided to go to the source next.  Sara "source person" is where the ideas flow from.
"Sara, this story really relys on your great ideas, do you have anything brewing for the rewrite?"
"I do, I shared some of those ideas with Ed and many of them were incorporated into the outlines.  But I do have several other ideas that I am trying to keep off the table so the story doesn't become overwhelming."  she nodded her head slightly towards the creative director, Candy, who is known for getting overwhelmed easily. 
Nikki looks at Candy next who got her name from her short spiky hair that is the pink color of cotton candy.
"Candy, how do you feel about the new ideas and the outlines?". Everyone holds their breath knowing that Candy doesn't always cooperate.
"Well...I guess they're alright."  Everyone exhales.  "I like the story, but I heard some of Sara's other story ideas when she didn't think I was listening."  Everyone glares at Sara who looks sheepish.  "I was thinking it would be fun to play with those ideas instead.  I mean, I already know how Knight of Dreams ends.  Wouldn't it be more fun to start a new story?".
There was a collective sigh of exasperation and everyone looked at Nikki to deliver her worn out speech.
"Candy, we've been over this lots of times.  You are free to write a paragraph or two of the new ideas that come your way to help you remember them, but then you need to focus on the story at hand.  I know focus isn't your strong suit..."
"Ooo, look a squirrel!"  Candy says as she points out the windows.
"As I was saying, Candy, Candy?  CANDY!"
Nikki rolls her eyes and continues.
"Our collective goal is to write and hopefully publish a novel that we are proud of.  Without your creative flare the story will never reach it's potential.  I really need you to commit to the project."
Candy blows a big bubble with her her gum before replying, "Well, I guess that would be alright.  But do I really have to follow some boring outline?"
Nikki looks at Ed to answer that question, "The outlines are just building off of the direction you took the first draft in.  The truth is that the outlines are basically your ideas to begin with.  If you decide to verge off the outlines just touch base with me real quick and I'll make any adjustments needed."
Candy looked appeased...for a moment.  "But SHE says I can't write a good novel and that I shouldn't disappoint everyone."
Candy pointed at the quiet shadowy figure in the corner who slowly stepped into the light.
Nikki was surprised to see Negative Nelly there, "I thought I gave you a permanent vacation."
"Well so did I, but you keep calling me back with you questions and feelings of self-doubt."  Nelly approaches the table now and continues, "It's a good thing I'm here though.  I have to be the voice of reason.  You all talk about this project like it's really going to happen.  How will you all feel when it fails?  Miserable, that's how you'll feel.  And you would have put in all that time and hard work for nothing.  I say cut your losses and find something more useful to do with your time like cleaning the house."  With a satisfied look on her face, Nelly sat back down in the corner.
The board room grew quiet.  Nobody looked at one another.  Maybe Nelly was right.  Maybe they should just quit now.
Nikki took a deep breath and stood up.  "Nelly's right about one thing.  We could fail, we could fail to publish the book, we could fail to make the book as perfect as we would like, and we could end up disappointed.  But even if we don't realize all our hopes, it won't be for nothing.  Because we would have proven to ourselves that we can work together and that we can push through writer's blocks and we can learn the craft of writing and we can learn more about ourselves.  And taking all that knowledge and confidence with us, we'll get right back up and write something else.  And if that one doesn't get published, we'll get up again.  We cannot fail as long as we don't admit defeat. I know that our team can make this happen.  Let's trust in our abilities and write this book!".
One by one each person stands and nods their agreement even Candy feels excited to write.  Everyone is on board again, everyone except Nelly who sneaks out the door unseen. 

So why aren't you entering the MMW short story contest?  Is your own Negative Nelly telling you not to try?  Are you really listening to her??  Fire her now and get your writing team together.  They may have to pull an all nighter to get it done, but they are the best parts of you and they are capable of making it happen.  So who's going to make the commitment right now to try?  Leave a comment expressing your new goal so I can cheer you on!!  Keep those entries coming in!!


  1. All right.... I'm going to try the contest. I know I only have 5 days left (4 by the time I actually get to sit down and write...) but why not? At the very least, I have a quirky short story that should make me laugh... right?

  2. that's the spirit! Niki, i love your imagination - and all your imaginary friends, too! thanks for sharing!

  3. you know I read this earlier and totally thought I'd already commented! Lol! Sorry. This is hilarious Nikki! I agree with Tamara amazing imagination... and erm, I always new you were a little crazy. Lol! Probably why I like you so much! LOL!


  4. @Shanti-Yeah! Good luck I can't wait to read it!
    @Tamara-Thanks! I feeling a little nuts for sharing.
    @Jenni-of course that's why we're friends!



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