Danse Macabre & ROWgoal tips

Hi everyone! Yes, this is ROW80’s between rounds off season, but I’m so used to posting that I figured, “why break a good habit”. So, today I’ve got a review of Danse Macabre (which I finished reading Friday) and a few quick goal tips as we move towards April 2 and the start of ROW Round 2.

Review of Danse Macabre by Stephen King

While this is not a “how to” craft book, Danse Macabre teaches a great deal about horror, fantasy and writing in general. What makes a great story great? What is that magical catharsis that so many fans of horror, fantasy and science fiction seek? King answers both these things and loads his review of thirty years of horror movies and fiction with a plethora of writing advice that makes this a valuable craft resource.

“Discipline and constant work are the whetstones upon which the dull knife of talent is honed until it becomes sharp enough, hopefully, to cut through even the toughest meat and gristle. No writer, painter, actor – no artist – is ever handed a sharp knife and we hone with varying degrees of zeal and aptitude.” Danse Macabre is one such whetstone upon which we can make our creative wits sharper and stronger.

On the other side of things, this is also an excellent way to catch up and see the depth of the horror and fantasy genres from their inception through to 1980. In the version of the book I read, King opens with a section on more up to date material, but really, seeing something during its beginning and formative times is the best way to get to see what makes it great. Don’t read the book or, for that matter, avoid it because its Stephen King – read the book because it will deepen your knowledge and provide you with a host of ideas and tools for making your own creation process that much more powerful and enlightened.

Absolutely recommend this book to everyone and especially to genre writers.

And, a few ROW goal setting tips

1) Keep it simple: Don’t frustrate yourself with complex goals. 500 words a week. 5 pages of editing a day. Expand backlog of blog posts by one a week – These are all simple and effective goals that I’ve seen many people succeed at. Write 1000 words a day on 4 different projects while doing interviews on Skype and bouncing twin screecher monkeys off my knees because they chant WordPress tips – not so much. Simple and clearly stated works best.

2) Keep the number of goals realistic: Pick one or two primary writing goals (write, edit, publish, etc.), a blog goal, a social media goal and one personal goal – that’s five right there. Have a day job? Significant Other? Kids? Pets that hiss or bark when you walk through the room because they can’t remember who you are? You will find greater success by focusing in on a few high priority things then by trying to do it all at once. Ever heard the old saying: “How does one eat an elephant? – One forkful at a time.” Highest priorities and personal desires make for the best goals – use the things you are already motivated to do and let your fellow ROWers cheer you to victory. Quick tip: Realistic means – realistic for you and your life – not, what you think others will see as realistic for you.

3) Keep if flexible. Remember that every goal takes time. I blew out on this my first round and didn’t “schedule” my family in – yeah, they were a bit ticked off. When setting your goals for the next round (or ever) remember that life requires your presence, as does your family, your job, your pets, your in laws that are stopping by in week 8 just to derail your carefully laid plans they know nothing about. Happens all the time and this is when you will be glad you left yourself flex room. When nothing is going on, this equates to free time you can use to exceed goals so that when times are busy you won’t feel stressed that you were only able to write 200 words, 10 at a time, while hiding in a closet writing by candlelight.

Simple – Realistic – Flexible: These three things guard against almost every danger I’ve encountered out in ROWland during three rounds as a participant and two as a sponsor (and heading into my third sponsor round).

To all the ROWers: See you on April 2nd – We are going to have a superb Round 2, 2012.

To All: See you Wednesday for Designing from Bones – I’m sure I’ll find something interesting… *grins*

Peaceful Journeys!

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About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. β€œOnly the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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9 Responses to Danse Macabre & ROWgoal tips

  1. ooh I love Stephen King.. I must confess, I have not read Danse Macabre… King is the reason why I wanted to be a writer… King and Poe.

    You make some valid points in your ROW Goal Setting Tips. I see a lot of ROWers that start off with ten – twelve goals (me included my first round) and that quickly dwindles.
    See you April 2nd! And probably before.. πŸ˜€

  2. Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ is still one of my favorite craft books. When I saw the title of this blog, I thought you were writing about the 80’s band by the same name. I didn’t know King had another book about writing, what a great surprise. Especially since I write fantasy. Thanks for the tip, Gene!

  3. Marcia says:

    I second your tips for ROW80! 80 days is not enough time for most people to comfortably write a book, change your health, or reinvent your life so why do some set such high goals? Goals need to be attainable because people need to feel successful, which helps us move on to the next goal.
    Working on my own goals for Round 2. Looking forward to cheering on everyone again! Thanks Gene!

  4. Julie Glover says:

    I have learned the hard way what goals should and shouldn’t look like! Thanks for breaking it down for ROW80 participants. Eager to start Round 2!

  5. Callene Rapp says:

    Good advice, Gene. I’ve been guilty of shooting myself in the foot, especially this last round. Going to try to KISS it this time around!

  6. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Wow, this is such an awesome quote: β€œDiscipline and constant work are the whetstones upon which the dull knife of talent is honed until it becomes sharp enough, hopefully, to cut through even the toughest meat and gristle. No writer, painter, actor – no artist – is ever handed a sharp knife and we hone with varying degrees of zeal and aptitude.”

    Sounds like a great book. And your goals are common sense guidelines. Boy, you guys didn’t get much of a break, did you? Best of luck to you all in the next round!

  7. authormarieandrews says:

    Fabulous ROW80 tips, and really, just tips to setting doable goals in general. I believe this is what ended up being the kicker for me and allowed me to find my balance near the end of round one. It’s important to remember our families and friends who support us and stand behind us. I value my family time each evening.

    Have a great week Gene!!! πŸ™‚

  8. Just like Lynn, I’m impressed with Stephen King’s quote on discipline and constant work. Ah, so true!

    I participated in the last two rounds of Row8, and it was a great experience. I’ve learned a lot about setting and achieving my goals. Keeping them “Simple – Realistic – Flexible”, as you said, is the most direct way to success (and not to frustration) πŸ™‚

  9. Reetta Raitanen says:

    Thanks for the Stephen King review. I just bought Danse Macabre and his On Writing. It’s been on my to read list forever so this was a much appreciated kick on the butt πŸ˜€
    And great Row goal setting tips. Simple, Realistic & Flexible is a good mantra for writers.

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