Life’s Better In the Zone

Yesterday I wrote.

That wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary — excepting unforseen catastrophes, I try to write something every day.

The difference with yesterday was that I tripled my typical output.

I’m working on a novel right now, and have a couple shorts bubbling away. (People said I should put one out for Halloween, being a horror writer and all, but neither is ready yet. I’d rather wait until I love them more.) Yesterday I sat down, set my timer, figured I’d get some words down on the novel then go about the rest of my day.

But what happened instead was that I fell into that mystical place: the Zone. Where the words seem to flow through you, whispered in your ear by some other storyteller. All you have to do is catch them before they wink out, and nail them down before they get away. When you’re there, you know: it felt like my hands were guided by someone, or Something other than myself, and when I read over what I’d written it seemed to have come from someone else altogether. At the same time, the voice is completely, one hundred percent me at my best, and I couldn’t be happier. I love the story, and everyone and everything in it. I know what’s happening and where it’s going.

I came away from the session with legs cramped and brain spinning. Pleasantly exhausted and wrung completely dry. It was running a marathon. It was winning a gameshow. It was years of practice at writing distilled into one perfect afternoon.

I can only hope Whatever that was comes to visit me again soon. We’ve got a lot of work to do, the two of us.

Doubting Yourself? Keep Trying.

“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”
– Walt Stanchfield

“I think it takes about a million words to make a writer. I mean that you’re going to throw away.”
– Jerry Pournelle

Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to come together. You might be having an off day, or be stuck in the middle of a slump, and you feel like you’ll never get anywhere. It’d be easy to give up. It’d be easy to say that you’ll never get better, never be great.

But look.

Jonathan Hardesty began posting his sketchbook to when he was just beginning as a visual artist. His first posting looked like this:

Some people would get discouraged, would say that they’re not cut out for art. They’d look at a sketch like this and compare it to the work of practiced artists and conclude that they’ll never be as good.

But Hardesty kept drawing. And painting. And posting. He told the forums that he filled every spare moment with drawing practice. I seem to recall a story of his wife driving a long leg of a roadtrip so he could keep his hands on his pencils. He developed a singlemindedness that we could all learn from.

Eventually he posted this:

Then this:

What if he’d stopped at the green cylinder? What if you stop every time you get discouraged?

His sketchbook is still growing. You can find it here.

Jonathan Hardesty’s 9 Year Journey From Novice To Master Painter from Mark Erdmann on Vimeo.

Fuck Yeah.

“This picture I’m gonna do right now is gonna suck, but I’m gonna do it anyways, just to see how bad it’s gonna look.
Fuck yeah.

I may do something REALLY good maybe once a month, but then I completely screw it up once I color it.
Fuck yeah.

I love art.
Fuck yeah.”

by forums user kool-ka-lang on Read the rest here, get pumped, and get creating.