Yesterday, you were advised to “just write the damn book.”
Time to tune into Hugh MacLeod’s advice in his book, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity]…
“So you’ve got the itch to do something…You don’t know if you’re good or not, but you think you could be. The problem is, even if you are good, you know nothing about this kind of business…”
“That’s…your adult voice, your boring and tedious voice trying to find a way to get the wee crayon voice to shut the hell up. Your wee voice doesn’t want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something.”
And so, there you are for your hour [or two or three], inside your hermetically sealed fortress of focus—go make something.
Or Joseph Finder and Hugh MacLeod are going to find out about it.
Well, now you’ve done it.
You’ve followed enough of the tips from 11/26 and 11/27 to create your own sensory deprivation chamber. [Yes, a slight exaggeration.]
And now it’s just you.
Luckily, your stubbornness in sitting down with pen and paper equals your stubbornness in resisting your work.
Let’s call in Joseph Finder to tip the scales.
His title says it all: “Just write the damned book already.”
Yesterday was the slow-pitch softball approach to warding off distractions.
Today, we go major league.
- Dogs belong on the other side of the door. [Pick up a multi-pack of industrial strength earplugs. They’ll muffle out the plaintive canine cries for attention and/or the symphony of squeak toys your furry friends have pulled out of the closet.] I know, I know…noise-canceling headphones, but what’s the fun of those?
- Significant others? Make an appointment for lunch. Let’s get real here–they’re going to love an hour away from you.
- You’re granted one preset alarm–a midpoint reminder to blink and stretch.
- Restroom breaks–cordon off the path with crime scene tape or, better yet, electric fencing. No straying allowed. [Warning sign is optional.]
Need me to be your productivity cop? Airfare, lodging [I’ll even walk and feed the dogs.], $100 an hour. It’s a steal!
With all due respect to the anti-drug message of the 80’s…
Just say no.
Not to your writing, of course,
But to the anti-writing forces.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
But to the myriad of distractions that come with busy times of the year.
- Go for one focused hour. Preferably in the morning. [Srini Rao has nailed down this one-hour thing.]
- Internet OFF. You don’t need Google Docs to crank out your daily words.
- One device only–your productivity tool of choice. That poor shlub in the photo should can the camera. And that clapperboard? Really? It’s just begging him to leave the keyboard and make an annoying racket. [I’ll give him a pass on the coffee.]
- Music with lyrics? Not if you’re in a nix-ative mood.
- Still locked into multi-device existence, are you? The TV? Only one of those music stations.
Otherwise, you’ll fall prey to the ‘Oh, I can do some drafting while the movie is running.’ ploy that the evil manufacturers have wired into the circuitry. [Talk about paranoid…]
Okay, that’s a safe and sane start. Let’s get a little more manic tomorrow…
come more options.
You’ve nailed #1.
But does that choice mean you’re taking a chance? At alienating an audience? At annoying an editor? At disregarding the usually treasured advice of a colleague?
And that choice might mean a complete change in direction. You tilt toward fiction. You opt out of long, luxurious passages for a staccato delivery. You drop the local writing group that’s lost touch with its members’ needs.
Lots of ways to go with this writing thing.
Especially in what you’re writing.
Yes, you might have to sacrifice a few gigs.
But you can look yourself in the mirror, convinced you followed your own compass.
Take a look at numbers 3 and 4 in this list. [Thank you, Stephen King.]
Perfect time of year for it, of course.
There’s a good chance someone out there has shifted your writing life in a positive direction.
You don’t even have to trot out the flowery prose. Just talk to them on paper.
Ex. “You know what? You believed in me when I was ready to chuck it all. You were my audience of one and, at right then, that was enough for me. Thanks for being there. [and for the coffee].”
Keep it simple and sincere.
Then, go old school and pop it in the mail.
Polish off that piece of pumpkin pie and find that pen and paper.
Sometimes you’re not sure where to start.
Maybe you don’t need to lock yourself in.
I’ve been using the template above for the last month.
Here is my Eclectic Journal prototype, along with a third page detailing the origins of three of the components.
I hope it works for some of you.
And feel free to pass it along.
You knew it was in there.
Under the mounds of ‘have-to’s’ and the ill-timed ‘what about this?’…
an ever-expanding inventory of ideas.
Just like writing for you, and you alone , you make time to delve into ‘what if?’ and ‘why not?’
No concrete goal.
Just play and see what materializes.
And to keep that momentum, check these out…
Become an Idea Machine
The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine
Maybe you’ve put a face to the voice of doubt.
But you’re just getting started.
To quote Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, ‘resistance never sleeps.’
You will hear the knock at the door every day.
It is a daily struggle.
To quote the author: “From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed.”
So, knowing it exists, aim to win today and worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.
I’ll close with perhaps my favorite quote from the book:
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Once again, a sincere note of appreciation to Tara Rodden Robinson for not just introducing me to this book, but actually gifting me with it, way back in 2006.
Further proof that she really wanted to change the lives of her students.
No commissions here. Just another book I believe in.