I’ve posted this at ednotions.com and retirerenew.com,
but thought it belonged here as well.
Thanks to Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings for this excellent page that includes Miller’s ‘daily program’.
Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone else’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know.
Write for fifteen minutes every day. Set a time in advance, set a timer. Try to write at the same time every day. Your subconscious will get used to the idea and will start to work like a reliable water spout.
The terror of the white page never goes away, no matter how much you publish. Do you know how terrified I was this morning, as I woke up and walked into my latest novel? And it doesn’t get any better. Every time I finish a piece of work, I am completely terrified that I’m going to be found out, that I’m a charlatan, that I have nothing left anymore. That I can’t do it anymore. It’s no good; I’ve lost touch. Through all of that, you find another block of stone. You just continue to carve and chip away.
Thanks to Jon Winokur–via his Twitter feed– and his Advice to Writers for these first three quotes.
So, yes, much like the summer of 2010 when I was laid up after Achilles tendon repair, I, like millions of others, am experiencing ‘restricted routines’. Hey, gotta do the right thing for others, including our front-liners. No complaints here.
And, as in 2010, it’s freed me up for another round of…
“30 New Recipes from 30 Sources in 30 Days”
Subtitle: “Without Gaining 30 Pounds”
Today’s entry, from Mom on Timeout: Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast
Okay, now this is weird. I’m revisiting the recipe and son of a gun if I forgot the eggs!
But it’s three hours after breakfast and it just hit me!
This recipe’s batter called for a quarter cup of flour, which is not something I’ve used in the past, and evidently, that supplied enough substance and adherence qualities [‘stickiness’ is really the better word] that I didn’t notice the lack of eggs. Weird.
Probability: You throw in enough of the good inner stuff, you don’t notice shortcomings. Case in point: I’m not proud of its appearance–I can tell you, the wrestling match just to get this on the tray was not a pretty sight–but this stromboli-saurus recipe earned a ‘repeat visit’ award.
Speaking of ‘inner stuff’, there was no reason to stop at peanut butter, so I pulled out black cherry preserves and a thick blueberry sauce that accompanied the flourless chocolate cake I’d made four days prior.
Half the fun of ‘following’ recipes is taking the detours. [Thank god there isn’t a Siri or Google Maps in the culinary world. That digital chorus would be endlessly yammering at me. “No, you nimrod, don’t double the cheese!”]
My final detour at breakfast: “Well, there’s still batter left…I wonder if I tossed in a wad of brown sugar and a glop of the blueberry sauce and then soaked the bread…”
Yep, I’d do it again. And maybe next time, a little creme de cassis or brandy wouldn’t hurt.
And speaking of detours…do this: While you’re eating, close your eyes. My experience: The food’s taste is ramped up. [Drawback, so is the sound of your chewing and chomping.] It seems to follow the truism that taking away one sense heightens the others.
So, what does all this have to do with writing? Experimentation in writing, as in cooking, can be a pleasant little kick in the seat of the pants.
Fellow writers and cooks: Go pave a new path. Have fun.
From the ‘Do as I share, not as I do’ department:
When you write – explode – fly apart – disintegrate! Then give time enough to think, cut, rework, and rewrite.
From the ‘Cripes, I hate it when people make me feel responsible for my own life’ department…
Sometimes people say to me, “I want to write, but I have five kids, a full-time job, a wife who beats me, a tremendous debt to my parents,” and so on.
I say to them, “There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now, even if it is ten minutes once a week.’
From the ‘Benefits of setting the bar low’ department:
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
Sometimes you really have to shove and grunt and sweat. Some days you go to your office and you’re the only one who shows up, none of the characters show up, and you sit there by yourself, feeling like an idiot. And some days everybody shows up ready to work. You have to show up at your office every day. If an idea comes by, you want to be there to get it in.
My take: For me, there is something magical about getting in that first 100 words. They don’t have to be quality words, of course, but just getting me to notice that I ‘showed up’ is a forward step.
I start the day in my notebook quite simply: “Showing up–the date–First 100 words” and I take it from there. The total often stretches to 150+ words. Interesting, though: There are times when I enter the list-making ‘zone’, so even if I don’t reach the century mark, I know those are quality words that are giving my work some added focus.
**Photo by Jesus Hilario H. on Unsplash