Episode 22: Migraines, Feedback, & Creativity

In this episode:

On the initial attempt to record this episode, Abby came down with a terrible migraine and we forced her to take the day off. On take two, we discuss the challenge of self-care as busy moms and writers, criticism in the general sense and specifically surrounding Abby and Mel's two-tier outlines.

Moms are the worst at saying ‘I can’t function today!’
— Jennie Nash

 (She's right, guys. You know it, we know it.)

It's so hard as a parent to say that you need a break or a day off when everyone is relying on you to show up. Jennie, Abby and Melanie trade anecdotes and advice on how to take the time you need for yourself when you need it. 

In the feedback portion of the episode, we discuss what it's like to get honest feedback on your work.

Accepting feedback is essentially opening yourself up to being criticized. For a lot of people that brings up bad experiences, and that can stand in the way of using that honest and constructive criticism to make your writing better.  

Highlights from this episode:

  • Book coaching criticism is often framed in questions that help the author think about what they intended to do with that particular section.
  • More info on the two-tier outline and how it works, and how criticism of the two-tier outline can help you make decisions on the direction of your story.
  • The two-tier outline is based on logic - after you get the logic locked down, then you can focus on the metaphors, sentence structure, pacing, etc. of your story.
  • Boundaries and restriction are two things that most writers need to see through the haze of limitless possibilities and narrow down what their story is really about.
The two-tier outline focuses on what most people miss: every single plot point or action has to be married to an emotional truth or reality, and then the whole thing has to lock together.
— Jennie Nash

The two-tier outline is originally restricted to just two pages but can be expanded after the form is mastered. Creativity does not thrive in total freedom; restriction and parameters, applied with purpose, will force you to look at things in a new way and decide what it really important to include in your story.  Jennie explains how this outline can form the building blocks of your book getting stuck in solely plot-based scenes that have no emotional depth, or vice-versa. 

For those who are interested, here is a link to the book that Jennie mentions in the episode. It's what she based the 2-tier outline on: 

A Three Dog Life
By Abigail Thomas