Creative Conflict - In Approach, Not Writing

So, I'd been struggling through some saggy bits in my middle chapters. And, as I'm wont to do, I began to avoid the manuscript. Rather strenuously. But, obviously, the more I avoided, the more distant I became. (Can I get a DUH??)

Anyway, the more distant I became, the more tenuous were my support threads. I didn't polish up and send the next lot of chapters to my Alphas, so I didn't get the benefit of their tireless cheerleading this week. Talk aboutcher downward spiral. So, in looking for ways to get back to productivity, I stumbled upon this corporate trick: Creative Conflict. Now, usually this means creating different, but related roles within an organization and letting the resulting competition drive both to mutual success. (Here's a great, if reeaallly long, article about it. Scroll way down to #2 - Creating Constructive Tension). An excerpt I found helpful:

"[Electronic Arts has] created a system of checks and balances or creative conflict. The producer focuses on ensuring that the game design is the best… The development director focuses on project management, budget, schedule, on-time delivery, etc. And they clash. We force that conflict and that discussion so that the team will push the envelope."

So, bastardizing this trick to suit my own nefarious needs, I put on my "Development Director" hat and looked critically at the manuscript in terms of project management. I'm getting way behind in schedule (why, thank you, Avoidance, and no, sir, I do not want 'smore), and I have an April 2 deadline to meet. In these troubled chapters, there were weak sections that needed some good, focused, no-excuses work and -- I also looked at the MS in terms of cutting losses, as per the main thrust of the Ivey Journal article -- and some serious cutting. And I worked within a schedule for the morning, with a clear deadline and a clear deliverable: finish the damned chapter by 12 p.m.

The result? Done. A completed chapter, fortified plot line, and some chunks that got tossed. Oh, there's some jumbled bits, for sure, and I'm pretty certain I'm stretching time too much in between some critical events -- but that's for the Revision Pen, the "Development Director" of the editing process to suss out and schedule. Next up? Putting the "Creative Director" hat back on this evening and sketching out two new chapters. Lather, rinse, repeat until that deadline crumbles under the weight of my pen. So back to work, people!! Time is money!


Lydia Kang | March 22, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Scheduling definitely helps me sometimes. Not always though, cuz when you're the boss you can still break the rules!

Kirk | March 22, 2010 at 6:44 PM

Project management is a good way to look at writing. Hmm... Maybe I should put a Gantt Chart together with related tasks... Nah - I'm already called a geek for having a spreadsheet to keep up with the statistics of each chapter. Guess whatever works for you.

Tahereh | March 22, 2010 at 8:17 PM

haha great, super helpful post!! time management is so critical!

thanks for sharing :D

best of luck with everything!!

Zoe C. Courtman | March 22, 2010 at 11:22 PM

Hey, Lydia! Thanks for reading - hate it when I break my own rules (cuz, verily, I do that, too, lol).

Kirk - I'm telling you, writing as project management really worked for me. (This time, anyway.)

Tahereh - glad you found it helpful! Love the blog :)

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