What did I learn at Clarion West? [1]

We were having lunch at Elliott’s Oyster House for Father’s Day and talking about the upcoming Write-a-thon. Mom asked me, “so — did you get anything out of Clarion West?” I goggled at her for a moment, then said, “of course!” The conversation moved on, but I determined that one of the things I needed to do during this Write-a-thon was a “what I learned at Clarion West” series.

This was a slight conflict with the other thing I needed to do during this Write-a-thon, which was a daily writing, less dorking around on the Internet, pledge. Because, probably the number one most important thing I learned during Clarion West is that I needed to spend a lot more of my time writing. I needed to make it a priority — daily, pretty much. It’s a weird mental trick, putting my brain into writing space — I have sometimes, only half-jokingly, called it a “temporary voluntary psychotic state.” If I don’t practice all the time it gets a lot harder.

And — I know there’s kind of an anti-Malcom-Gladwell sentiment swirling about on the Internet these days, but I think he was onto something with the 10,000 hours rule. It’s not that 10,000 hours is precise or magical or guaranteed, but getting really good at something often requires both 1. More practice than you would ever believe, and 2. Not practicing wrong. Clarion West helped me with both.

Life disruptions will get me out of the daily writing habit, though, and giant festering piles of stress will sometimes crush it out of me. When it gets hard just to get through my day, it gets harder still to face the gentle hum and blinking cursor of the laptop. And I have to get back to writing productivity, because I have SEQUELS to write, dammit! (Yes, Waking Up Naked in Strange Places has sequels planned. )

So, that is my Write-a-thon pledge: Writing Lent, which means six weeks of daily writing, plus no Internet or other blatant goofing off except on Sundays. Because that’s how Lent works, I think, but I was raised evangelical Protestant so I probably have no business WHATSOEVER doing this. Anyway, every Sunday, look for a new post explaining one thing I learned at Clarion West. But on not-Sundays, I will be cloistered in my Cave of Writing (that is, my bedroom).