Everybody write, everybody draw, now

Maria Popova, of my favorite blog/website, BrainPickings.org, has a tumblr that matches up music with well-chosen excerpts from books. I really liked this one. Especially the last part, which comes from Debbie Millman:

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

Let your imagination run wild! Write whatever you want, draw whatever you want, and love whatever you make. And I mean “love” not in the yeah-I-like-it-a-really-really-lot kind of way, but in the caring, attentive, thoughtful, and emotionally intelligent way relationships should be.

Drawing and writing stories and playing make-believe isn’t stuff kids do because it’s easy, it’s something they do because their imaginations haven’t been silenced by the self-conscious censors of society.

And take a look at my brother’s doodle on the subject.

This could happen to you: You come back from a night out with your friends, and when you get back to your apartment, you lay down on top of the piles of laundry all over your floor with a good book, ready to knock out a short story. You dive in, probably reading Vonnegut’s The Kid Nobody Could Handle, trying to imagine the band conductor drinking coffee in a diner while watching machines tear down some beautiful nature for a strip mall. It’s a bit murky, and you can’t figure out why you aren’t following it. Then you realize why. Inspiration. Your subconscious floated a beast of a story into your conscious mind, something you HAVE to write.


Just spill. Let it go. Think of nothing else. Just write it. Your options: 1) go to bed. Nothing happens. Whatever ideas you have are still stuck in the pre-writing phase, and thus are still relatively useless or in the same place tomorrow when you sit down to write. 2) You write for 20 minutes, and the next morning, you look back on your scraps and laugh about how ill-formed they are. Over the course of the day, you have a number of thoughts related to what you spilled, and the beginnings of an arc are formed.

My advice is basically this: get through that plot point that is in your head As Soon As Possible. Good stories are about change, but you can’t write change from A to B until you’ve written A, and you won’t have the best idea for B until the tone/idea of A has been fully-formed and executed.

Put a bend in that narrative arc, now. Let it evolve tomorrow. Get it? Write. If you get stuck, doodle.

UPDATE: Just found this, a write up of Gaiman’s response to a question from the forum two weeks ago.