Posts Tagged ‘Project’

Whether a Spinner or a Weaver

March 1, 2012 22 comments

Writers come in many different types, but they all form components of two categories; spinners and weavers. That’s my theory after being on this road to publication for the past three and a quarter years. Here’s how my theory goes.


These writers are the ones who begin a project from thin air, no prep, no origin point beyond a basic premise, and a desire to create a story. These writers can be poets, children’s writers, essayists, memoirists, etc. The way they build the final product is the key to the definition.

They spin their final copy from tiny filaments of imagination, layer on layer, until the end. During rewrite, the spinner works to fill in those empty or shallow spots with more imaginative spinning to round out the overall picture created for the reader. A word change here for more concrete imagery, a comma placed there for more emphasis and dramatic effect, all of these tweaks come with deliberation and forethought to solidify the story, regardless of the format being used.

Some critics point out that this is an inefficient method of writing. I stand as both critic and user of the method. I defend this process of writing as being more organic and freer of cumbersome formulae.

It is also an inefficient and time consuming method of writing. It’s how my mind works when in creation mode, nevertheless. Flying by the seat of my pants might be cliché, but it’s an accurate description of the method.

If a spinner like me has a gut feeling about an impulse story, the best way to tackle it is the NaNoWriMo method. I dive in and write until I come to a wall. Sometimes a wall doesn’t appear until I’ve finished the entire first draft. Those are good times. Filling in the shallow spots, and tweaking during the rewrite, adds satisfaction and anticipation into the project.

There are also times that the wall arrives just after the title and byline, before the first line of the first paragraph. This latter example comes from my not having yet decided on a project’s slant, angle, or purpose before beginning a preplanned project. The spontaneity has been removed from it, leaving me adrift.

When I’m adrift on a preplanned project, I move into Weaver mode.


A weaver uses components from various sources to weave a story tapestry, poem, etc. In some instances the type of source isn’t as critical as the information derived from it. Interviews delving into personal experiences glean much useful information without having to be documented from still other sources, for instance.

Personal memoir pieces and personal experience essays don’t always require documentation of any kind.

When the writer works with elements that require accuracy of information, real weaving takes place within the body of a written piece. Tiny details such as a plant’s medicinal properties must be accurate. Why? There are always people who will latch onto that tidbit of info and try it out in the real world, or research it, just to verify the writer’s use of the reference.

Travel articles hold much of the weaver’s abilities. The travel writer weaves dreams of vacations, locations, foods or drinks, luxuries or austerity, all in the body of a one thousand-word article. The writer lures the reader into a scene, placing him on the road to a must-have adventure, and then tries to convince that reader that nothing can compare to that particular experience.

Good travel articles sell hotels, cruise lines, spas, wines, etc. The tourism industry is driven into the homes of millions each month as a passenger in the travel writer’s road buggy. And the writer’s luring package can be as small as a well-written ad with an evocative photo taken by that writer.

Whether a Spinner or a Weaver

Fiction and non-fiction all require these two modes of a writer’s abilities. Good fiction, the kind that draws the reader in and traps them inside the story until it’s finished, uses both tale-spinning and a writer’s weaving to keep in on the shelf over the long haul.

Weaving in regional history and character depth is as important as spinning a fantastic tale of intrigue in the past, present, or future. Each form of writing requires accuracy of detail. Each genre requires deep thought to make it real to the reader. And each writer spins her threads’ bright colors before sitting down at the loom to weave those colors into a picture that informs a reader.

Experts in ancient tapestries, Persian rugs, and other textiles say that each weaver dyes his own threads with colors made by his own hands, and ties each delicate and strong knot with a unique signature. The same can be said for the writer.

Finding Balance and Launching Projects

January 28, 2012 5 comments

One of the things that many writers have complained about is finding balance in their writing lives. For me it’s an every-day struggle.

For the past two weeks my time has been spent reading: journals, writer’s magazines, novels, newspapers, marketing lists, and grant listings.

Oh, yes. I’ve run through a gauntlet of publishing advice, writer’s key points to remember, plus a myriad of funding choices and recommended sources for those who are proposal challenged.

Considering all of that, you might wonder what I came away with.

Let me say this. I’m someone who’s always been expected to finish all projects as quickly as possible and to perfection. Does this give you a clue as to my stress level concerning any given project?

I’ve almost come to a point of accepting a typo, grammatical error, or other minor flaw as not requiring blood-letting. ALMOST. Biting one’s tongue to keep from screaming out loud doesn’t count.

This expectation of mine stalls submissions but doesn’t stall idea generation. That’s where the problem comes in. I have too many ideas.

It takes little to send me haring off on the scent of a possible new rabbit before it goes down the nearest hole and disappears. Why?

When I have so many pending projects already in various stages of completion, I become overwhelmed by the volume.

Discouragement rears up and hisses at me when I start to go back to tackle one of the Needs-To-Be-Finished projects. I lived in rattlesnake country too long, I guess. I tend to back off when something—anything—hisses at me. As a result, I’ll begin yet another story, article, etc., instead.

Soon I have an avalanche waiting to descend and smother me.

My fairy godmother arrived during this last reading frenzy. I caught up on my perusal of back issues of The Writer Magazine. In the December, 2011 issue, editor and author, Linda K. Wertheimer, wrote a timely essay; one that I desperately needed now.

She wrote “Perfecting the Art of Slowness,” which detailed how she had to return to the discipline of small daily practice sessions used for becoming a first chair flutist in order to find real success later in writing.

It sounds so simple to hear someone else say it, doesn’t it; slow down, two small words that could make or break a story, submission, or query.

Her advice got me to thinking hard about how I used my time and organized my work. If I teach myself to envision a large stop sign at the end of each phase of a project, pause to look both ways—back to the beginning as well as toward the finish line—and ease out into the flow of time traffic, I would have fewer frustrations, missteps, and avalanches.

When I couple that strategy with practicing the art of merely writing down new ideas rather than beginning the whole new project, current projects can be finished more regularly and well.

I’ve begun my daily practice. Each day I take out one project, children’s lit or adult, read through it, and begin the revision. I work for one hour on editing and then go looking for markets for the piece. By the time I return to it, I’ve removed myself far enough that a final edit can commence.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to clear out my backlog of material, and continue to work on current projects, an hour at a time. I’ve discovered that it isn’t so much that I’m mismanaging my time as it is a matter of clearing inventory. An hour isn’t much to devote to something that can leave home and live on its own, after all.

Tell me about your own struggles, downfalls, and strategies. Until later,

A bientot,