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Chop Wood, Carry Water

“Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”                              –Zen proverb. Image: Zen Dojo of Wisconsin

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“Safe Return Doubtful” — Shackleton’s Call for Submissions

Image: John Hyatt This is the original advert with which Ernest Shackleton recruited men for his ill-fated Antarctic expedition. Besides being considered one of the finest examples of copywriting in the 20th century* the ad attracted a first rate crew who’s safe return from an icebound shipwreck became legend.  Those were the days before liability laws… Read more »

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Tough Love from ‘Cool Runnings’

In Bird by Bird: some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott quotes Disney’s Cool Runnings as advice on publication: “A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” 

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Go for a Walk

Go for a 15 minute walk, whether that’s around the neighborhood, down the beach or through the woods. If that doesn’t bring you back to center, come back here for more procrastination hacks. I doubt you’ll need to. 

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TK

T.K is journalism speak  for ‘to come.’*  Next time you’re stuck just insert this handy abbreviation and move on. In nonfiction it can stand in for facts and stats you can look up later, thus avoiding the ‘black hole’ of internet research. For fiction writers, TK relieves the burden of having to find the mot juste.  He had… Read more »

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Writing with Dysentery

What’s the one aspect of your craft you know you could do no matter what? Forget about your muse and your flow and consider the nitty gritty. What’s something you know you could get done even if you were soiling your trousers with a fever of 103°? Figure this out when you’re in good shape (you… Read more »

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Have a Playlist

Here’s how some greats have done it:  Hunter S. Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to a live version of “sympathy for the devil” on repeat. Stephen King  is a metal guy*.  David Foster Wallace mentions writing to  Pink Floyd and Nirvana in his book length interview Although of Course you end up Becoming Yourself. He kept a… Read more »

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Morning Pages

3 pages is all you get…  More about morning pages from Julia Cameron and Lifehacker.

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Remain Seated

Here’s a simple one that works no matter how blocked you may find yourself. Just sit.  Pick a time to write. Turn off all distractions, music is fine. Set a timer, 45 minutes is good. No matter what happens do not budge ’til time’s up. Repeat, with 10 minute breaks every hour.  You can sit writing… Read more »

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Not ______ Enough?

Maybe you’ve told yourself “I’m not talented enough, not creative enough, not smart enough” or worse, “I didn’t go to the right school, I don’t have the right connections.” Well, if that’s true (it’s not) there’s nobody watching and there are no consequences, so do your thing anyway!