This way or that ?
Here is one of those posts where I tie together two seemingly unrelated subjects, usually writing and something else in order to explain a small point. The idea is that it highlights one or more, of the myriad of connections in life, and how we may wish to use these relations in our writing. Today I shall marry football (the one with the spherical ball, US readers, i.e. Soccer), and writing. No, hold on, don’t run off yet, I shall endeavour to make the point in a small number of words and without any prior knowledge of the game. So lets see how that one turns out shall we.
Regular readers will know that I am a Liverpool Football Club (LFC), and pretty much have been since the 1986 FA cup final where Liverpool beat Everton 3 − 1. As anyone who is a fan of any sport can tell you, once you experience the emotional ride once, it is hard to shake off. Liverpool were the main team then. Now they haven’t won the English League since 1990, although thankfully have won other trophies over the years (including the Champions League in another emotional ride in 2005). Now for various reasons, some good, some not, they are on their fourth manager in four years, a man called Brendan Rogers.
Brendan came from managing Swansea City, who had built a reputation on playing good possession football on a small budget, no mean feat. In fact, at the end of last season they went to Liverpool and beat them one nil. Now Brendan has the Liverpool job, still a prestigious one, as Liverpool is one of the most supported clubs not just in the UK, but the world. He is bringing more of a possession game to the club, more along the lines of what the club played in it’s best days. A possession game is the hardest to play because it requires good technical ability, a good understanding of how the team moves, where your team mates should be, where you should be. If you have the ball you need to be able to do something positive as a team, with it. It requires skill under pressure, a cool head, and a belief in what you are doing. It also requires certain movements when you lose possession, or do not have possession of the ball, because part of the game is getting the ball back. Depending on the coaches strategy, you will do a certain thing, for a certain amount of time.
This type of game is the most difficult because it requires good players, but also because without this and a good understanding of what you and the team should be doing, greater risks. For example,if you play out from the back (your own goal) you are at more risk of giving the ball away in a dangerous area than you would be punting it up the field or out of play (letting you regroup). On the other hand if you play out and retain possession, you are in a much better position than punting it or knocking it out of play. Inherent in playing a game like this is players who buy into your philosophy and have the required skills to do so. Those that do not are moved on and replaced with those that do. It is a slower way to progress (potentially), but should it work, it brings a higher chance of the greater reward.
And what exactly does this have to do with writing? Even across the blogsphere, I hear you ask. Well here’s the interesting thing. Anyone out there attempted to write a book? It is a long slog isn’t it? It requires a lot of thought and effort doesn’t it? There is a learning curve isn’t there? Somewhere along the way you learn where you fit on the planning scale. Do you like a strong story plan, and know all the plot up front, or do you work from an idea and see where it takes you? Personally I like a good plan, or as I put it, “a strong spine”, but with some room to see what comes out.
What about a work routine, when do you work? Mornings, evenings, throughout the day? Do you write to a word target, a chapter target, from point to point? I prefer mornings or evenings, and mostly I work to a word count, but that can change if I want to get to a certain point. What sort of advice do you use, and how often? I prefer a few help writing help books, some blog sites and the “community advice”, and the Writers Digest. I enjoy using them but I don’t let them dominate my time. Or not too often.
You might see where I am going here with these question and answers. Writing on a larger project takes some ability and effort. If you have a strategy for working on it, something you have learnt both works for, and compliments you, then you are on the right road. You have a higher chance of success. If you do not have much of a strategy, just dive in, or have a go whenever, you don’t look for your weak areas and try to improve. Things will be much different. You will have a higher chance of failing or getting sidetracked. Your project will get no where fast. I can tell you this from experience. So what I’m saying is you need to learn what works for you. You need to have a strategy that you can really buy into, and commit to and the right tools to do it. Having that commitment will be harder to break. Having the strategy and tools that compliment you will make it come together easier, even if underneath that, there is a lot of time and effort. You may have to learn some technique first, and have some trial and effort, but doing this should benefit you in the long run. Like Liverpool Football club, if the strategy is right and everyone buys into it, if the right players are there, then the chances of going somewhere good, improve.
An Update on a few things
- The novel project has been slow in the last week or two for a number of reasons outside of the blog. I am not attempting to finish it by the end of the year (or at least a draft of it) so no big deal. That said I would prefer more progress.
- However, I have a number of good ideas for a short story project which I shall also be developing and working on. The idea was a tiny bit off the back of “100 word fiction” although these stories will be much larger short stories. This and the project above will be worked on over the next few months.
- I’m changing my Monday posts from focusing on the previous weekend to focusing on the previous week. It will now be called “My past week in Haiku & other assorted nonsense”. Partially this is so I am not tied into having to write this the day before, and partially because some of my weekends are a bit boring.
Lexicon word of the day: gaucherie.