If you throw enough pots

2It’s important to make room in your life for randomness. New ideas come from serendipitous juxtapositions. That’s why I have a Random Posts widget which picks some posts out of more than 4500 posts that I’ve written in the past five years. It gives me a reason to keep coming back to my own blog. For example, after I posted the entry on writer’s block today, I stumbled across an entry that I’d written over 2 years ago about expertise and writing577. It’s as true today as it was then, and my goal today is the same goal I had back then. I want to learn how to express my thoughts, and there’s no substitute for practice. Practice, practice, practice.

Practice means writing something even if I don’t feel like doing it. It’s funny, but once I start writing, things come a little more easily. Kirk is right578. I don’t have to expect my first draft to feel right. I just have to get it out there, so that I can find out what I’m thinking, and I can edit it. Writing is mostly editing, anyway.

When I was writing my master’s thesis, I got stuck on chapters as well. What helped me then was the realization that it didn’t really matter what I put out was my first draft, because I was going to fix it. My supervisor was going to help me fix it. My thesis committee members were going to help me fix it. I just had to get the raw material out there, so that we all had something to play with. Once I got the raw material out there, putting together a full length draft that my supervisor could then read, things went so much faster.

I’m like that with this book as well. I need to get the chapters out of my head. It’s a little embarrassing posting all of these things and finding version dependencies, typos, bugs in my code, bugs in my writing… but the important thing is that it’s out there. I’m really lucky that people are reading it, commenting, correcting my errors, suggesting other things I can look into. I wouldn’t have that feedback if I didn’t write.

So I just have to get things out there. I need to throw some pots, because each pot will teach me something that will bring me closer to what I want to be able to do. I need to practice. I need to practice, practice, and practice. Even if it sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m making much progress day by day, eventually I’ll get to the point where even I will be able to see the difference between how I’ll do things and how I used to do things before.

What are you working towards?

  • Charo

    I remember way back when our creative writing group would hold weekend meetings at a member’s place. We would have this exercise where we were supposed to come up with a short story in 10 minutes. TEN minutes! All we had then was pen and paper and we had to come up with a complete short story in TEN MINUTES!

    We ended up just writing down whatever popped into our heads, scribbling like crazy. Never mind if the grammar and spelling were wrong. Never mind if the character suddenly had multiple genders (one of us even ended up using he, she and it!). We just wrote.

    Then we switched stories and edited for the next four hours. What came out of that? Well, a few awards for some of our members (NVM and the like).

    It actually helps to be in a writing group to get your creative juices going. :)

  • Charo, great idea. If I ever get into writing fiction again, we should do that. It sounds like the kind of thing that should be easy to build a web-based system for, if you’re doing a writing group internationally. =)