Crowdsourcing and Alternate Pursuits
I’m writing this rather late, and I am afraid it may be short, as well. I’d apologize, but the projects at hand yesterday were lengthy and pressing. Besides, they gave me the idea for this post.
Yesterday I spent from about 9 am to 5:30 pm at school. The last four hours of that was a lab, during which I processed samples in triplicate, and then ran 15 titrations to gather the needed data for a standard and sample data. It was sort of fun. We’re not a large class, at this level of chemistry and at the branch campus I attend. A total of nine of us in the lab, working hard and amazingly not tripping over anyone. Only one piece of broken glass yesterday! Because a lot of what we’re doing is hurry-up-and-wait, we chat. One of my classmates is a gunsmith, and another is a gun nut, so yesterday I got a lead on the First Reader’s Christmas present – I want to get him a Mosin Nagant. I get a charge out of the younger classmates I have, and despite the lengthy day, came home happy and ready to take on the next task.
But that’s irrelevant to writing.. or is it? Because after arriving home later than usual, I still had math to tackle. I’d asked a friend to help, and in the process of working through problems I posted a picture of a problem to my open timeline on facebook (even if you aren’t logged it you should be able to follow the link, it’s public) which led to help, hilarity, and a revelation to me. This isn’t the first time I’ve crowd sourced for school, or writing for that matter. In the acknowledgments and thanks for Dragon Noir, I tell not only Larry Correia, but the whole MHI forum, many thanks for their help. Larry let me ask questions in his sandbox, and the forum members (MHI Group here) gave me all sorts of, ahem, interesting scenarios. Which culminated in my writing a scene where a pixie goes bowling for ogres with a logging truck. Really, all I’d wanted was a lead on a weapon a small being could logically handle. What I got was more. Working with the right kinds of people can actually help prime the pump, if you can imagine your brain as a hand-dug well with a lever-style pump.
Writing is mostly a solo affair. (heh – and now I’m reminded of what Heinlein said about writing “do it in private and wash your hands after”)
On occasion, however, chatting with friends, posing questions, or just rolling in a conversation with a bunch of like-minded geeks can lead to magic happening. You’re still the creator, but like a flint and steel, they struck the sparks you then carefully blew into a flame on the tinder you’d already set up.
Speaking of questions, I recently got an email asking: ” I suffer from weak search foo (wow, that sounds like a condition that deserves a comic storyline…). I hesitate to bring this up in public for fear of starting a flame war, but do real authors generally use a particular text editor? Word? Adobe? Scrivener? I feel almost certain that this is available *somewhere* on MGC but darn me if I could find it. I also imagine this topic, among authors, is like discussing which religion is best.”
Firstly, the questioner is correct – this can go badly. So please, in the comments, be kind to one another. Remember that we’re all going to have points where we agree to disagree.
And finally – since it is late as I write this, and my head hurts and my hands are tired – I wanted to talk about alternate pursuits. When you just cannot write, for whatever reason (emotionally drained, overworked, burned out) then I highly recommend you find another outlet. I’ve been creating art recently, in spare moments. I want to write, but I know that if I sit down to write, I will no sooner get the well primed and the pump working, then I will have to get up and go. Or fall over into bed. But creating the art is keeping me from losing touch with my creative spark, and it relaxes me. I can fit it more readily into the nooks and crannies of life than I can writing, at the moment.
What is your alternate pursuit? And how can you tie it into your writing well, to help prime the word-pump in preparation for the times you do have to write?