Monday, December 27, 2010

Why I Teach What I Teach

My son is a snowboard fanatic and was watching some youngster (21)
who is the world's best snowboarder.

This guy is so much better than the second-best in the world, he often
scores 100% when 87-88% is good enough for Olympic Silver.

I forget the term, but SB's go down a "pipe", using the overall downhill
and their own generated momentum to do various tricks.

The ting that is special about the world's greatest snowboarder is that he
DOES NOT plan or practice his run. He simply relies on "muscle-memory"
and his instinct for play. He says that when he DOES think or plan, he is rubbish.

In Football

it's much the same. Players practice "generalities" like pass and move
and get the ball back, but on match day they need to be freer. The science
of a curving 50-yard pass is quite amazing, but for some reason it's more
likely to come off if you just let the body do its own thing.

Which is why

in Boot Camp I keep telling you all to WRITE DRUNK, to totally ignore all the rules, to forget editors, to not even look at what you write, just write-write-write as fast as you can. That is how the subconscious gets free, and it's THEN that you surprise yourself.

The moment you stop, pause to think, consider, plan, you awaken the left-brain, the logical, the me-too, the formulaic, the obvious, the copy-cat dull-as-ditch-water left brain.

But HOW?

Do you learn the rules of writing? How do you ever manage to write well even if the ideas are magic from the subconscious?

By CRITIQUING hundreds, thousands of stories.
By engaging every single day with good stories and bad.
By reading EVERY day about craft.
By questioning everything you read.

THAT is where you do the solid work.
That is where the "rules" become imprinted.

STUDY, slog, BETWEEN stories, but write as free as a bird, drunk, high, aroused

Harlan Ellison once said you must ABSORB technique and work work work until it is natural, instinctive, until it runs in your veins.


write every day, and I mean every day. Wake up every day and say, "I am a writer. My prime object today is to find time to write something."

Ideally you should always write something (ideally 500 words) before doing anything else.

Writing first thing does a lot. You are the least cluttered and your left-brain is at its quietest. The other good time is very veery late when you are tired and the left-brain needs to rest, but morning writing does one other thing. It reminds you that YOU ARE A WRITER and you will therefore go through your day thinking, seeing, understanding with a writer's perspective.

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