Advice from George Carlin: Write down your ideas and classify them.

Morning pages vs. writer’s journal

Susan Sontag, in Against Interpretation, on the function of a writer’s journal: “in them he builds up, piece by piece, the identity of a writer to himself.”

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends “morning pages,” three stream-of-consciousness handwritten pages.

What’s the difference between morning pages, the release of thoughts preventing artistic movement, and a writer’s journal, the creation of that artistic movement itself?

Morning pages: Go.

Writer’s journal: Clean as you go.

Or, if we consider that the real work of the mind is subconscious dreamwork rather than conscious thought, then morning pages represent the clean-up after an overnight construction project.

Morning pages: Clean as you go.

Writer’s journal: Go.

How to put off writing

When writing for work, think about writing for pleasure.

When free to write, make art and music instead.

When making art or music, worry about money.

How to sketch an invention on a napkin

  1. Come up with a brilliant idea.
  2. Figure out the important commercial applications.
  3. Ponder the technical hurdles that would make it so very difficult to build. Stare into space.
  4. Outline a short story describing the idea, but why give away such a great idea?
  5. Go to a life-drawing session. Mention your brilliant idea to the model. Do a drawing titled: “Nude pondering an idea with important commercial applications.”
  6. Do you really want to cross town for the life-drawing session? Sketch it out on a napkin instead.
  7. Ahh, fuck it.

Oh, the irony

[Margaret] Atwood adeptly, and somewhat jokily, described the basic schema set out in [Northrup Frye’s] Anatomy of Criticism: “[There are] four main types of story: the romance, in which the hero journeys on a quest, kills dragons and rescues maidens; the comedy, in which the hero and the maiden can’t get together due to interference by censorious old fogies, but which, after complication, ends with marriage; the tragedy, in which the protagonist falls from a height and ends up dead or in exile; and irony, in which old fogies sit round a winter fire in a frozen world and tell tales.”

Frye’s Anatomy” by Alec Scott, University of Toronto Magazine

My annual routine of checking the job listings

The most useful criticism that Ann Beattie has ever received: “Because you are good at a thing does not mean that you are obliged to do it.”

You say “I can do that job, and that job, and that job” when the fact is you can’t do any of them. You’d get bored to death and end up wanting to write country music from the management perspective.

My friend Jen