Freestyle Friday: Writing Goals for July 2016

Since it’s “Freestyle Friday,” I’m going to take a break from the heavier topics I discussed in my last two posts.

I want 2016 to be the year I got my act together.

  • I earned my Ph.D.
  • I’ve started getting my health back under control by eating a fully plant-based diet and exercising more (in the summer, that means swimming. I’ve got a plan for the fall, too).
  • I’ve started trying to unify my personal ethics with my actions, digging deeper, actually changing from the normal.
  • I’ve restarted this blog after a 3-year absence.
  • I’m going to make another go of my fiction writing.

Let me talk about the last two here. It’s not that I haven’t been writing fiction for the last couple of years, it’s that I haven’t been successfully writing fiction.

After writing a novel that I loved, one that did everything I wanted it to, one that I actually go back and read sometimes like somebody else wrote it … I found I couldn’t even come close to replicating it.

Lightning wouldn’t strike twice, and I spent two full years not knowing why or how.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the skill to reproduce it yet. For those of you who play RPGs, I got a critical success mostly from the luck of the dice.

But now, I have a plan. For July, I want to:

    • Continue writing this blog five days a week, putting out material that is actually useful, that gives something of value to at least somebody every day.
    • Write 4 “

Story Spines

      .” In case you’re not familiar with them, they’re proto-outlines invented by Kenn Adams in 1991 and used extensively throughout the entertainment industry,

especially by Pixar


For each story, I’ll then create the main character. That character will need to be relatable, with relatable motivations that will be powerful and engaging enough to push through the entire story.

A bit more about story spines: They’re designed to get to the heart of the story long before you write an extensive outline or start putting dialogue and description down.

Like a living creature, a story only has one spine. So four spines means (the start of) four stories. The story spines will actually be the easy part.

Creating a relatable main character with powerful enough motivations to drive the whole story, well, that’s the hard part.

And that’s why I’m going to do at least 4 story spines a month (maybe more) until I get it right, and then keep doing them (and analyzing them) until I figure out what causes me to fail and what causes me to succeed.

I’ll continue to read books and articles about writing, and work on technical aspects of my prose. But the bottom line is, if I can’t write a powerful enough central motivation and relatable enough lead character to drive the story to completion, nothing else matters.

So that’s the plan for July. I guess this means I’ll owe you a status report at the end of the month.


Wednesday’s Thoughts

No, not that Wednesday…

Okay, so part of learning is making mistakes and learning from them. I think I made a mistake with “Willpower Wednesday.”

It’s not that I don’t want to write about Grit, the Growth Mindset, Willpower, Self-Control, and Self-Efficacy … it’s just that I’m just not far enough along the learning curve to write about it every week and have it be worthwhile. I don’t have that much insight yet.

Don’t worry, I’ll still write about these topics from time to time, but only when I have something worth writing.

I’ll do something else on Wednesdays. It may take me a little while to settle on it. I may simply use the day to support the overall themes I’m working on at the time, allowing me to focus on specific topics, rather than dragging them out over several weeks.

I’ve been feeling like the blog had lost touch with its initial vibe anyway, like it had sort of lost its way and become fragmented. Maybe this will let me reunify things a little, while still talking about my experiences with going vegan. This always was a more spiritual than practical and academic blog anyway.

I want to use this space to explore a sort of “unified theory” to the changes I’m trying to make in my life right now, and the Grit stuff just doesn’t fit. C’est la vie.







Freestyle Friday: A Museum of My Mistakes

(With apologies to Julia Wertz, who draws a comic called “Museum of Mistakes“)

Restarting my blog has led me to re-read some of the posts I wrote three or four years ago … and boy, is that embarrassing.

In some areas, I’m a little embarrassed by where I was then, compared to where I am now.

And I’m more than a little embarrassed by how little progress I’ve made in other areas.

But I’m extremely embarrassed by a few stupid insensitive things I did back then, like using the “homosexual” as a noun, instead of LGBT+ person, gender/sexual  minority (GSM), or a more specific and appropriate term like gay man or lesbian woman.

My first instinct was to go in an “correct” it, changing the old terms to more appropriate, sensitive and respectful wording.

But I’ve decided to let it stand. I’m not going to sanitize my past. Because I wasn’t writing that to speak against GSM people, but to work through my own understanding, and come to a place where I could at least be supportive and respectful to them as people.

I just didn’t know that I didn’t know.

I know now, but I think it would be wrong to go back and change it, to retroactively present myself as wiser or more sensitive or understanding than I really was. That would be false.

So I’ll let the old posts stand as a “Museum of My Mistakes.” Though I do reserve the right to take a post down entirely, if I really feel I need to. But I won’t alter what I wrote, and leave it up as if it had always been that way.

You can’t change the past, even if you have editing privileges 🙂

Tim’s Back (and Tim’s front. They’re both here!)

You may have noticed a two-month silence on this blog. I hope you noticed it 🙂

Two months ago, an F4 tornado passed over our house, close enough my ears popped. It tossed several hundred-foot tall pine trees around like Lincoln Logs, smashing our carport and both cars.

Twelve days later our first child, a daughter, was born.

I may write about all this in more detail later, but suffice it to say I wasn’t thinking about blogging for a while.

But it’s been two months, and it’s time to get back on that horse. I have things I want to say, things I need to wrestle with.

So, here goes…