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November 4, 2006

superNOVember - 1

by sven at 11:55 pm

SuperNOVember is a month-long event initiated by Shelley Noble. The challenge: take action on your art each day, blog about it daily.

My usual "voice" when writing is documentarian. For SuperNOVember posts I'm going to try to write in a more casual "checking-in" voice.

Today's progress: I was inspired... I wrote a few pages of notes about how I want to develop animated films. The basic idea: I want to infuse playful improvisation into every stage of the filmmaking process -- otherwise, I feel like I'm yoked to the visions of a former self, and the project becomes dead to me.

I also experimented with new idea for personal organization. Here's the germ of the idea:

Try writing down a list of questions instead of a to-do list. Items on a to-do list are just answers that have forgotten the questions they belonged to. To-do lists have a tendency to get overwhelming: a stack of contextless labor we'll never be able to surmount.

Following up on this bright idea, I made a list of 226 questions about how to organize my various projects... Many of them relating to stopmo, but also many of them are just things that need to get done so I can get back to art. For kicks, you can read the whole list here.


I've got a lot of thoughts about why this is a powerful writing exercise.

When you articulate a question, just writing it down usually gives you at least half the answer. By writing down every question you can think of, many problems resolve themselves before your eyes.

A question invites you to think about answers. A to-do list seems like a list of answers when I first write it -- but after a day or so, it starts to seem like a pile of roadblocks, all standing between me and where I want to be. I think by focusing on the questions, my projects will seem more alive, and I'll be more likely to stay engaged with a constructive process over time.

A question like "what do I need to do to renovate the studio?" leads to asking "do I really want to do this?" and "do I need to do this now?" ...But a to-do item like "call contractor" doesn't inspire me to think about the big picture. To-do items tend to cause me to get lost in details and forget my emotional motivations for pursuing projects.

A question is a leaping off point. An answer is an end point, a stopping place. A to-do item is the answer to an often unarticulated question. If I want to be in motion, then it's helpful to be explicit about my questions, and to stick with the questioning process as much as possible.


Tired. Stayed up late helping Gretchin prepare for today's Holiday Bazaar. I think the event went really well for us. There's more planning work to do tomorrow in order to get things done efficiently next week... But I'm also thinking that the next step for stopmo is to clothe the "dad" puppet, and that I can squeeze that in sometime tomorrow.

posted by sven | November 4, 2006 11:55 PM | categories: stopmo