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The Ever Changing Zen of the Fiction Writer

Has Your Zen Changed without Your Permission? That happens with zen things. If you have discovered that your needs are changing and the style of your writing is also changing, such as – You started as a Pantser, and now you find you need Outlines and Research Notes -- Don't worry, you'll alter that perspective several times before you come to a "workable theory"  of how you work best as a writer. That is, if you ever do. Writers and other Artists use the mind in ways that other efforts do not. But that doesn't mean that this needs to cause strife.

"He who thinks he knows, doesn't know. He who knows that he doesn't know, knows."

I use a program type called Mind Maps. They are adaptable, and comprehensive. Over the years, my "way" has changed. By using mind maps I don’t need to learn new software.

Docear is a solid package. It is also free. There's a vid on the linked page below. I recommend watching to introduce you the amount of tools and functionality. While it is designed for Academic research, it works well for Fiction. It provides the tools needed for Character Personality development, maps, locations, layouts for houses and other structures, research on tech, finding information regarding artifacts, historic events,  historical figures, murder scenes, keeping track of who knows what – there is no end to the level of detailed information you can keep track of, and find without strife – and no requirement of any level at all.

Research material is also easy to discover. Docear has a large library you can use (demonstrated in the video). Google provides large libraries as well if you know a simple trick to search. Let’s say I want to discover the weapons used in the Civil war by the Confederate army.

Civil war Confederate Army Weapons and Arms filetype:pdf 

The “filetype:pdf” tells Google that I want PDF documents in the search results. The PDFs tend to be academic or close to academic level in content, meaning a lot of research and references went into creating them.

As you can see, the results from that search above -- the first 10 have provided more information than I’ll ever use.

The second reason is described in the video for Docear

It is counter-intuitive that we are not be able to "know" how best we work -- and in many areas we can, but writing is high-level creative activity. It is an activity that will always strain the level of information and skills you have -- look at Isaac Asimov --  driving us for higher levels of education, and broader areas of knowledge. Then you have the constant activity of the brain as the neural net struggles to continue making connections between these areas of information and experience. By the time we are 24-27 the brain has matured, and most of the connections begin to “solidify.”

Naturally we learn more information, that is expected, but we comprehend new information based on what we already know from a biological point. Artists of all types push this, keeping the mind active, and the net open for new areas where there are no foundation networks to connect, and then making new connections again, creating new network webs as we continue to write, just like we did when we were going into puberty and the nets were all new and pliable. As new networks stabilize, the mind requires different tools and processes. What worked for you last year as a Pantser, may not work for you next year -- allow it to happen. The alternative sucks.


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