Deadlines vs Mosaics – Deconstructing Construction

Autumn is nigh.  The night gets longer, the air gets colder, and the rains come.  The weather and landscape whirl like falling leaves into their last dance.  Harvest time.  Reaping time.

Your brain has been hard at work the past few years.  You’ve got poems, you’ve got short-story ideas.  You have novels to start, novels to continue, and novels to edit.  How do you manage?  How do you know which crops to store for winter, and which ones to toss in a pot for dinner tonight?

There are two methods I can think of: deadlines, and mosaics.

The deadline is simple.  “I will finish ___ by __date.”  Throw it up on a calendar, and work steadily toward it from now until then.  Do it, done.  Check.

The second is mosaic method.  This is working on things out of order.  With a number of stories vying for attention at once, you may want to try obliging them.  Spend some time on a scene from your next book, even if you’re not there yet.  If you saw something that reminded you of other worlds, write out a brief sketch.  If you’re thinking about a short story idea, it might be difficult to devote your attention to editing.  Let your intuition guide you wherever it will.  Work on what really interests you now, in this moment.  If you’re sad, write sadness.  If you’re pissed, write violence.  The last chapters will come when they’re ready.

Juggling multiple projects may be intimidating, but it’s also rewarding.  Don’t feel like you need to bottle up your ideas, and most importantly: never, EVER stop.  Figure out which method works for you, then keep going.

“Life isn’t divided into genres.  It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel.  You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky

–Alan Moore

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  

–Lewis Carroll


6 thoughts on “Deadlines vs Mosaics – Deconstructing Construction

  1. margitsage

    Love it! I am totally a mosaic-er in everything I do (reading, knitting, quilting, writing). I have a long attention span, but somehow I lose interest when I see something shiny and divert course.

    1. Setsu Post author

      Gosh, me too. Trying to write something I’m not in the mood for is like pulling teeth — but when I’m bursting at the seams to get something down that’s all I want to do.

  2. prysma

    As I see it, if I can’t feel it, there’s no point to writing it because I’ll just be unhappy with it and re-write it later. Better to just flow with whatever I do feel, whatever’s singing to me that it wants to go on the page right now, because that will come out strong and vivid instead of washed-out and forced. Whatever I can feel, I can bury myself in without coming up for air for days; if I can’t feel it, I have to keep dragging my attention back to it. It does mean having a lot of projects around in various stages of completion, but they’ll all get done and the final results will be better.

    Now, that could be a problem if I had contracts and deadlines hanging overhead… and I suspect that’s at least part of why some otherwise good writers sometimes release stuff that’s raw and clumsy. I would rather offer something late than offer something that just doesn’t come alive.

    1. Setsu Post author

      You’re absolutely right. Bringing forth something that’s alive is the epitome of what we do.

      The choice to put something down that’s not up to our standards is a matter of personal preference. It hinges a lot on what your goals are.

      I think there are two sides to any artistic endeavor. On the one hand, there’s the wild, uninhibited, glorious truth of our expression. On the other rests all the tools and methods to express that truth. There’s a craftsmanship to writing, to be sure. I’m terrified I’ll forget what I meant to say, so I jot down mediocre material as a placeholder whenever I can. It’s like carpentry, in a way. Whether you get the job done with a hand saw, circular saw, or a steak knife doesn’t matter — so long as you accomplish what you set out to.


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