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Trusting the process

November 16, 2013

Programming note: Industry news will not appear today. In its place, this hastily written post will appear. Yikes! Industry news will return next week at its regularly scheduled timeIn its place, we bring you the following Special Presentation.

Full disclosure: I was on a business trip this week and got home to 297 unread emails in my Yahoo account and another 77 in my work email (and the ones from work were from one day), and two things I had to put together for work. So I don’t have the time to do the Industry News this week.

That means I have to sit down and essentially, pull something from my posterior, as they say. Having done this blog for a long time, the blank page doesn’t scare me the way it used to.

Don’t get me wrong, once upon a time, if I suddenly had no content lined up for tomorrow, I’d wind up typing the blog equivalent of scary, scary jibberish.

But I’ve done this before. I’ve sat down and pulled something reasonable, semi-literate (or more), and coherent from my butt. It didn’t even smell bad. I’ve written from prompts when I’ve had the writer’s equivalent of anxiety-based shut down at my inability to form a thought (enough so that the first line in a prompt I once wrote to was I got nothing, mostly because I had nothing).

I’ve written here recently that it’s important to write something every day, if possible. And it’s not just because of the 10,000-hour rule and the benefit of repetition. It’s because when you’ve written a lot of things over a long period of time, you can start with a blank page and let it take you where it takes you.

My short story that placed as a finalist in this year’s RPLA started because of a sign I passed on the way to work when I lived in Chicago. A man named Brian Adcock was retiring after working for the same company since 1951 (at the time 45 years). I assumed he might have died by now and started out with the protagonist looking at his grave stone–a solid, substantial stone for a solid, substantial man–at least in my version. It unfolded from there. And though I spent a lot of time on revisions, the essence of the story was set in stone with that first draft.

My probably entry in next year’s FWA Collection happened the same way. I sat down with a single idea and created a first draft that shows enormous promise.

If you’ve done this before, and you sit down and do it again and do that again and again, you will generate something.

But it’s not about you. It’s about the process and the words. Get out of your head about it and let the words flow. If nothing else, you look writery and people will be impressed that you’re writing.

 

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