Sunday, September 29, 2013

Medicine vs. Poison

How would you define "medicine"? When I thought of that question, the answer came out as. "Chemicals that make you feel better." The opposite would be "poison," which I would consider to be chemicals that make you feel worse. 

It seems simple enough. Aspirin makes you healthy, which is why it's medicine. Arsenic makes you very unhealthy, so it's poison. 

But what about alcohol? Alcohol ruins our balance, our livers, our kidneys, and enough other things to be considered a poison. But it also relaxes people and makes them happier and more energetic, so it is a medicine of sorts, too. 

Colloquially, alcohol is referred to as both a poison and as medicine, depending on the circumstances. It is a curious substance, being both poison and medicine, depending on what you need. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Define Yourself By Your Habits

There is a famous quote by Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I like this idea for many reasons. The first is that it applies to any quality, not just excellence. Malevolence is as much a habit as benevolence. This allows us to realize that we should not be so quick to judge people and to permanently cast them into a certain lot. Everybody makes mistakes or has bad judgment. But the way we think of somebody should be based on what they do consistently. A kind person who has a moment of selfishness is still kind. A jerk who bought you lunch one time is still a jerk.

But its best lesson is at face value. We should strive to do good things regularly, not rest on our laurels. As writers, we should be proud of our portfolios, but we should continue to add to them. If you are what you consistently do, than you are a writer only if you consistently write. And that leads to what I love the most about this quote.

My favorite quote from college was a professor saying, “You’re only a writer on days you write.” It dawned on me today that he was (inadvertently?) channeling Aristotle as he made that claim.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trust And Betrayal

As an individual, I personally believe that trust is the most powerful fundamental thing you can give to another person. Trust, at its core, is giving somebody else power over you. I trust my friends not to share secrets about me. I trust my friends to help me in my hour of need.

Trust is different from expectations. I expect a lot of things to happen. I expect that strangers on the street won't try to punch me in broad daylight. I expect that I will have a job tomorrow (and next week and next month). But that doesn't mean I will let my guard down. There is always a chance that somebody would decide I was a good punching bag. There's a chance my job might not exist tomorrow (or that it would exist and somebody else would have it). In either case, I'm prepared. There is always a plan, a recourse. 

If my friends decide to blab my inner secrets, I would have zero recourse to protect myself. If my friends wanted to rob or murder me in my sleep, they could. But the reason I don't worry about it is that I trust them not to. And this is what I mean. Trust is the ultimate power, because it is another person giving you control over them. 

For this reason, I believe that betrayal is the worst atrocity one can commit upon another. Betrayal is the violation of trust. It is the deepest wound one can inflict and it is permanent. Nothing can ever truly repair betrayed trust. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Correct It Or Eject It

If you have written something and it's just not quite right, you really only have two viable options. The first is to correct it. Find a way to revise what you have so that you may keep the idea, and even some of the wording, but to make it more effective. The second option is to eject it. Simply cut out the parts that don't work. Sometimes a passage is stronger without a bad sentence.

Too many people struggle with the correcting part. They may be able to identify problem spots, but don't know how to fix it. When authors/editors get stuck like that, they often end up convincing themselves that the passage is good enough. They find ways to justify and rationalize it, and they leave it be. But the real reason they leave it be is that they don't know how to fix it.

If you have a passage that doesn't work, it isn't good enough. If it drew enough of a flag that an editor wanted to correct it, then it's not correct as it stands. Never accept something as being good enough, especially when you know it isn't. Editing is not always easy, even to those for whom it comes naturally. But if you are going to edit, then edit well.

You Always Write For Your Audience

I will tell any writer that the number one rule to keep in mind is that you always write for your audience. I've met a number of authors who seem to get upset, even offended, at the idea that they should tailor the way they write to make other people happy. Writing is an incredibly personal thing for them and they don't care what anybody else thinks. Other people either need to like it as it stands, or they need to move along.

I don't necessarily fault people for thinking this way. Writing is a very personal thing. It's a personal thing for everybody. But I do feel that people aren't quite understanding what I'm trying to explain to them.

First, ask yourself who your audience is. The cheap answer is to say everyone. It's a stupid answer because not everybody has the same tastes and preferences. The lazy answer is to say that your audience is the people who enjoy your work. Well, how are you supposed to distribute your writing to them if you can't come up with a more specific set of descriptions?

For many amateur writers, their true audience is themselves. And that's totally fine. It's ok for your audience to be you. But that still follows the number one rule: you are writing for your audience. What do you enjoy? What kind of writing style is pleasant? What kinds of stories do you like? You should answer those questions so that you end up creating something that you enjoy and respect.

Let me give you an example. I have known many writers who hate their own writing. They look at notebooks from their middle school or high school days and are embarrassed by it. They think that their own writing is bad and they feel bad about it. If that is happening, then it means that they failed to write for their audience.

Sometimes, even what you want as a writer is not the same as what you want as a reader. However, I do believe that what people choose to write is a kind of writing that they also want to read. So if you don't want to read your own writing, if you think your own writing is not good, then get better. Practice and learn and improve so that you can look on your old work with pride.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If You Didn't See Them Die, They're Not Dead

Death is a horrid and gruesome thing. Those who have seen it should not want to see more of it. Death is often a taboo subject, at least to some degree. We try not to dwell on it much. That is why it has been quite common not to actually depict death in stories. Always, there are euphemisms or it happens off-screen.

Nowadays, you can't use implied death; too many storytellers have tricked their audiences. This is exceptionally bad in comic books, where superheroes die surprisingly often, but none of them actually stay dead. They are always resurrected or rebooted. You also have the problem with too many spy stories where a character ultimately fakes their death to be able to move around without being suspected. 

Because this technique is so common, it is now cheap. It also breeds a certain mistrust amongst readers. If you haven't seen a character actually die, then they aren't actually dead. It may not be the funnest mindset to have, but it will prevent you from being played by an amateur author with cheap tricks. 

Wasted Scenes

One of the highest compliments I can receive is when somebody tells me that a story I wrote has no wasted scenes. That doesn't mean that it's perfect by any means, but it does mean that I made my scenes efficiently. 

I hate the idea of a wasted scene. When I see two characters talking on and on and it doesn't further the plot or develop the characters, it makes me upset that I read it. It was a waste of time. 

Don't waste scenes. Lots of things go on in your world that you don't write about. 
If a scene doesn't add something new and useful, then don't write it down. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Thoughts Belong To The Moment

I have thoughts that I've written down from years ago. When I wrote them, it was because they sounded like something awesome to write about, but I just didn't have the time to write the whole thing out. So I recorded the core of the idea, figuring that it will jog my memory when I would return to it and I would then write about it. And yet, days, months, and years later, those ideas have never really inspired me to write about them.

I feel like some thoughts belong to the moment. Although they were interesting to think about, and may have seemed like something interesting to write about and share, they are ultimately finite and really only existed in that moment where they blinked into existence and then blinked right out of existence. And trying to force those ideas would only create an inferior product.

So if a thought belongs to a moment, enjoy it in that moment, and allow it to remain there.

Keep Your Notes Handy

I have many, many scraps of paper with my ideas in them, but how far are they from my computer? My pocket notebook is great for writing down ideas when I'm on the go, but they are not of use if I leave it on my dresser and don't read through it.

Keep your notes handy. Put them in places that are unavoidable. And remember to read them. Otherwise, you might as well have not bothered to write them down in the first place.

Creativity Is A State Of Mind

I've often heard writers and other artists talk about how it is always feast or famine when it comes to creativity. I've noticed the same thing myself. I can go weeks and weeks without ideas, and once they finally start coming to me again, I get a flood of great ideas all at once. In the past, I've simply accepted it as a curious phenomenon, but now i get it.

It makes sense that creativity is feast or famine. Creativity, or more accurately, being receptive to creativity, is a mental state. When your mind is open to it, you see all the myriad ideas out there. 

And the very nature of creativity is seeing things as being connected and related, so it makes perfect sense that when you get into that place, many great ideas come.

I don't think there is a way to manipulate yourself into this state, but there are things you can do to help. First of all, don't panic. Accept that not having ideas is as natural as having lots of ideas; you aren't broken if you can't think of something good on demand.Second, pay attention to what stimulates your mind. For example, I always get great ideas when I go to live concerts. Something about sitting still and listening to music (and that I can't distract myself with technology) kicks my brain into creative mode. So learn about yourself and what triggers your thoughts. Anything that puts you into a creative state of mind makes the rest of the process much easier.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Criticize vs. Critique

It's difficult to criticize somebody. "Criticize" has become a tainted word. Criticism at default is negative. Criticism can only be positive if you go out of your way to mention that it is positive criticism. 

The more neutral word to use is "critique". Critique really is the same as criticism, but it somehow remains separate in our collective minds (probably because it's French). Joking aside, I think it's because of being less common. People only use "critique" when trying to not offend somebody. That's why it remains neutral; it is used more neutrally than "criticism". 

Try to give people a fair critique. Be positive along with negatives. And don't bring up pure negatives. Say how and why something didn't resonate with you and try to offer suggestions for improvement. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shut Up And Listen

I always distinguish between people who talk with me and people who talk to me. The former truly have conversations with me; we build off of what the other says, and create new thoughts between us. The latter say things that are either incongruous or exist in a vacuum; nothing they say has anything to do with me or what I have actually said. 

This represents a larger issue here. Many people are not really listening to us; they're just waiting for their next turn to talk. 

I realized today that, although people often find it outrageous and appalling that we spend our childhood being told to shut up and listen, what is far more awful is how many people never even learn that lesson. Shutting up and listening is an awesome skill and more people need to know it. 

Listening is how you learn. But it's more than just hearing the sound or knowing the words. It's about pondering the information you are being given. It's about asking questions and seeking truthful responses. It's a a shared event between all involved parties. 

I have seen conversations where people literally took turns talking about themselves to each other. It seriously sounded like listening to two lectures at the same time that had nothing to do with each other. Each person just waited for the other to pause so they could jump in. There was no reason for the two of them to talk to each other.

Even if you don't have anything to say, or if somebody is dominating a conversation by talking to you, at least actually listen to them. You never know what things you might find out. You also never know what inspiration there is to be had. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Role Models Don't Try To Be

It's so annoying when people try to make a "positive female role model" or a "strong female protagonist". Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not being misogynistic here. I mean that it's annoying when people go out of their way to make a character to try to be defined like that. Those kinds of characters always end up failing at their one role because they try to hard. 

When a female character defines herself by her femininity, it's as obnoxious as male characters who act overly macho. When a female character believes that she is superior simply because she is female and "girls rule", it's just as sexist as characters espousing male superiority. 

The best role models are the ones that don't try to be. Specifically, if you write a character who is a good person, that character will be a good role model just by living their life; if that character tried to show off how good of a role model they were, then they would have failed to be a good role model because of the bragging.

 It's kind of like how cool people don't care about being cool, and that's what makes them cool. Write stories with interesting and believable characters, and role models will appear. They don't require effort. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Storytelling vs. Writing

Being a good storyteller and being a good writer are not the same thing, nor are they the same skills. They do tend to go hand-in-hand, and they do share many skills, but they are fundamentally different.

A story can come in any medium. Text, voice, dance, photos, videos, you could even tell a story with cake if you were good enough. Stories are about sharing experiences and feelings. It is a broad skill, but it has fundamental principles like understanding your audience, finding ways to communicate with them, and to make them think and feel what you want.

Writing is a specific medium. It can be used for several reasons, but whatever kind of writing you do, you will need certain principles. You need to have a standard of communication (spelling/punctuation/grammar that you and your audience both understand). You need to know how to employ those to get the desired effect you want. Writing can be dry and sterile, or it can be sensual and emotional, and it can be anything in between. A good writer knows how to create the desired effect.

A good writer should also be a good storyteller. Whether you want to make somebody cry with a personal essay, or you simply want them to understand how to program their DVR, you need to know how to take your reader on the journey and to pick things up along the way.

A good storyteller may not need to be a good writer specifically, but they do need to be good at whatever medium they choose to use. If a storyteller knows the journey that the audience should take, but doesn't know how to actually create that journey, then it is still ineffective.

The Ingredients Are Not The Recipe

When you look at the labels on food products, it's easy to see the ingredients list and think that you know what the food is like. You might even think that you could make your own version of those things. The problem comes when you actually do try to make some food of your own. All of a sudden, you realize that the ingredients list doesn't have any actual quantities or temperatures or times or any other instructions.

The ingredients are not the recipe. This is just as true for writing. Knowing a book's genre doesn't tell you what will happen in it. Knowing a book's premise doesn't explain the experience of meeting its characters. Knowing the plot itself still does not convey the voice of the author actually telling you the story.

In a world full of reviews and synopses, it is easy to think that getting the short-hand version of a story is good enough, but in actuality, it will never be the same as experiencing the original.

It Takes Mental Energy To Create

Humans seem to constantly forget about fuel sources. Cars will run out of gas. Candles burn themselves out. Guns need bullets. Somehow (by which I mean because of watching too many movies), we often think of energy as free, but everything has a cost, including thinking and creativity. 

It takes mental energy to create. You are burning calories and using vitamins and minerals to fire your neurons and make new connections. If you don't have enough energy, then you simply putter around. 

The advice is often given to write in the late night or early morning, and there is some value to that, but those also are times where mental energy is not optimal.

There is a balance you need to find to do it properly. On one end, you have no energy, and on the other you have no creativity. 

Experiment to find that balance. They can be your best hours for writing. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Smartphones And Stupid People

I love my smartphone. I'm actually writing this on my phone. In fact, I've written several posts on my phone. It is convenient for when I'm waiting somewhere or if I'd rather do it lying in bed. It's also handy having autocorrect fix a lot of my typographical errors. But the problem is when your smartphone makes you stupid. 

I love having autocorrect, but if I didn't already know how to spell words, it wouldn't be helpful at all. (It would be like using words out of a thesaurus without understanding how it is different from the original word. 

I know when to use commas and other punctuation. I understand grammar at a functional level. Even without my phone's assistance, I can write a perfectly accurate sentence. And even if I was lazy with things like capitalization or punctuation, I can express cogent thoughts. 

Smart phones get similar criticism for other reasons. The calculator makes lazy people justify not knowing math. The GPS makes people not learn where they live or how streets connect, let alone which places are near each other or what the truly most effective trip is. 

I think that people truly do need to know how to do things without electronic assistance. Don't give yourself that crutch and don't let it become a permanent crutch. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remove Your Ego

Today was somewhat brutal. I spent the morning and afternoon having my writing corrected in real time in front of my face, and then I spent the evening having my writing corrected in real time in front of my face. I have fairly thick skin, but I still have some amount of ego invested in my writing, and that's not a good thing.

When I was in college, taking Professional Writing classes, I got criticized a lot. In fact, one of the best parts of the program was being forced to write constantly and receiving legitimate feedback, both positive and negative, on most of what I wrote, whether I liked it or not. That is why I have thick skin. It was through these repeated experiences that I learned the deeper lesson, which is that you must be able to separate yourself from your writing.

No matter how much you define yourself as a writer, no matter how much heart and soul and passion you put into your work, that doesn't magically make it good. It doesn't magically make other people have to like it. And most importantly, it doesn't make you a lesser person if people don't like it. It is something you created, but it is not the sole definition of who you are.

Still though, if you don't stay in practice, you can lose sight of that lesson. And no matter how often you repeat the words, you can still find yourself getting caught up in that silliness all over again. Again, today was really rough for me. I can take criticism, but at a certain point, it just feels like I'm being beaten.

Nonetheless, and this is what matters most, I got through it. I'm alive and well. I did not receive any physical injuries, nor did I get any emotional scars. And best of all, I am a better writer for it. Already, my brain is far more aware of style and voice and which verbiage is exciting and which is dull. If I keep getting criticized, I'll be back in my prime.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

You Need A Point Of Reference

Stories tend to be about changes. It could be about an area that gets renovated or a time when many people moved away. Very often, stories are about people, and follow them during a time when something changes who they are. The climactic moment of such stories is when the character finally does something different. In order to understand the significance of a character's actions, you need a point of reference to compare it to.

Some people are naturally jocular; they crack jokes and laugh out loud all the time. For such a character to be smiling is a common sight. But if you see a man that has always worn a frown and barely ever talked laughing out loud, it would be incredibly surprising.

Now, being surprising just means that it was unexpected. So far, our only point of reference is that this man is always dour, and now he's not. However, imagine if we knew more about this man. What if he never laughed because his wife had died and he felt guilty about it? If the audience knows that, then to see this man laughing is not only surprising, but now it is poignant because it is a symbol to show that the man has gotten past his grief.

Always be aware of what you are telling to your audience, and what you are showing them. The more they understand about your characters and settings, the more you are able to do incredibly powerful things with very small and subtle scenes. And that is where the most incredible writing can be done.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We're All Dying

I watched the movie Blade Runner recently. The most powerful line was toward the end - the protagonist falls in love with a woman who only has 4 years to live, and another character tells the protagonist, "It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?"

When I heard this line, it rekindled an old thought I've tackled with from time to time. We're all dying. It is a strange thing, though. Most people don't have any idea when it might be. It could be tomorrow, or it could be 40 years from now. But everybody assumes it will be in 40 years (or longer). It's probably the only way some people can go on living, by ignoring their mortality, by procrastinating on accepting their lives as finite. And that is what makes it such a dramatic setting to give a character a specific amount of time to live.

When somebody knows they will die in 6 months, they suddenly feel this rush to accept their mortality and have the experiences they always dreamed of. But that's actually a weird thing. Why are people putting off their dreams? Why are they not dealing with the reality of life being painfully short, whether we live for 4 years or 100?

As people without an ETA for death, we see a person that has 6 months to live and we think that they aren't going to make it. And all the while, they are completely oblivious to the fact that they aren't going to make it either, because "making it" seems to mean not dying.

So why do I bring this up? It's because the reality is that everybody here is going to die. What really matters is what you choose to do with that time that you do have. It's as true for you and me as it is for the characters we write and read about. If birth and death are the first and last pages of the story that is our lives, then no matter how many chapters there are, that book will end. Try to make those pages in between worth reading.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Communication Is A Two-Way Bridge

Miscommunication is a surprisingly common occurrence. It seems crazy that people who all grew up learning and speaking the same language are always misunderstanding one another. But when you understand how communication works, it stops surprising you how common miscommunication is. 

First of all, understand that words are tools to convey thoughts and feelings. Words always end up being the closest approximation of how we think and feel. Very often, though, people do have feelings that words are unable to express, which shows that even English is a limited language. 

Second of all, remember from the previous post that each individual person has their own personal understanding for what a word means. So just because you say "I think it's ok" with a certain understanding of what that means, the other person may feel it has a different definition.

At its core, communication is a two-way bridge. The speaker has an idea that they are trying to convey to the other person. The speaker uses words to convey that idea to the audience. The audience then has to hear the words, decode them, and try to understand and feel the idea being conveyed. 

If the speaker fails to accurately convey an idea, or the audience understands the words used as having different meanings, then there lies miscommunication. 

It may be a bridge, but communication can be a very rickety one. There are so many variables that you can never be sure that what was given is what was received.

Be extra careful when communicating with people. Take the time and effort to make sure you are being understood properly. It will make all the difference in the world to both of you. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

We Give Power To Words

If I said "I like you", you might be happy (you might also be creeped out, but let's assume it would make you happy). If I said "I love you", you might have a significantly stronger reaction (whether it is positive or negative). So why is it that "like" and "love" have such different levels of power?

Because they mean different things.
Yes, like and love mean different things, but the point is, who determines what a word actually does mean?

Society determines it. Words already have meanings when we're born.
That's a fair point, but it's not entirely accurate. There are two examples of this.  The first is that, if you track the history of language, you will find that some words have very drastically changed their meanings over the years, so words can change meaning, despite what they meant when you were born.

The second example is the word "love". There is a saying, "If you ask one hundred people for their definition of love, you will get one hundred different responses." This word has different meanings for different people. And, in fact, each person tends to have several meanings for that word. When people say "I love my mom", they do not mean it in the same way as when they say "I love lasagna."

So what does this mean? It means that we give power to words. It means that, although there are social influences, every individual person decides what a word means in general, and that the interpretation of a word can change based on the context of its use (who said it, why it was said, how it was said, etc.). As a writer, always be aware that the words you put down may convey what you intend, but if the reader interprets your words differently, your message may still be lost. Be very careful and very clear with your words and you will keep such happenings to a minimum.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Putting The Pen Down

Writing is a pretty important thing to me. When I get a thought that I want to remember, I will pull out my phone or notebook to go and write it down, even in the middle of a conversation. I make the time to do writing. However, there are things more important than that to me. 

Some things are important enough that when they need your attention, you just have to put your pen down. You can always come back to your writing, but not everything (or everyone) has that quality. 

Understand the priority you give to writing and to everything else. Always do whatever is most important to be done at a given time. And if what is most important at the time changes, then change what you are doing. It's ok to put the pen down; just remember to pick it back up again. 

The First Taste Of New Success

The worst thing in writing (or most endeavors) is not our failures; it's our plateaus. When we do something wrong, we realize it and can correct it and do better. But a plateau is a feeling where no matter how hard you try, you just can't get any better. 

What makes plateaus even worse is that you have no idea how long it will be until you go on to the next level (or if you even do at all). So there is this time where you feel like you're spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. 

So when you finally do get to a new level, it is a truly marvelous thing. No matter how slight it may be, once you get that first taste of new success, enjoy it like the celebration that it is. You should also use it as inspiration to keep forging ahead. New success is only the first stage toward real significant success. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Getting It Off Your Chest

Why do we write? It's one of those questions where you may get a lot of similar answers from people, but you will also keep finding new responses. Ultimately, it's a personal decision that has a personal answer for every writer. And more than that, different things that we write may be done for different reasons. 

One reason that people say is that they needed to get something off their chest. Writing is an amazing phenomenon; once you record your thoughts, you don't need to remember them anymore. So when we have those thoughts that swirl around our heads and plague our minds, writing them down can be a way to get them out. When you've been keeping something to yourself and you feel that burning need to tell somebody, you can write it down and get it off your chest while still technically keeping it to yourself. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Practice What You're Not Good At

Imagine that you're a boxer and you have a devastating uppercut. You know how to land it square on somebody's chin and knock them to the ground. When you're that good at this one move, you don't get any better as a boxer to go in the ring and knock out person after person with that uppercut. You already know that move. What about all the other moves you could be doing? How much better would you be if you had two devastating moves? What if you had a dozen?

The same thing is the case for writers. What skills are you good at? Can you write teen romance? Do you know how to leave the audience on a cliffhanger and wanting more? If so, then great. Now stop doing those and try other genres and other literary/dramatic techniques.

It may feel scary. It may feel weird. But that's because it is kinda weird. You are out of your comfort zone while doing this, so it should be somewhat uncomfortable. But that's ok. Learning new things is always a little scary, but it is always worth it to have more knowledge and more skills. It's how you become a better writer (or boxer, or anything else worth being).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dedicated Workspace

I think one of the best things a serious writer can do is have a dedicated workspace for writing. It can be as simple as a little table, or even a TV tray with a chair in front of it. When it is a place that you only go to to do work, and when you only get work done while you're there, you may find yourself being incredibly productive.

I've spent a lot of time trying to be productive in the same places where I relax, but I always end up setting work aside to go and relax. It's just something about areas having a certain designation in the mind - it makes us default to that feeling when we are there. 

The beauty there, though, is that the same phenomenon also makes dedicated workspace more successful for getting productive work done. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

All Memories Fade

Nothing is as intense as actually experiencing something. You see things as they are with your eyes. You smell the air, hear the sounds, and so on. All of your senses are firing all at once, creating a cacophony of stimuli. 

And as soon as an experience is over, it is a memory. Your mind stores the thoughts and feelings of what you just experienced to think about, reflect over, and maybe even learn from. The problem with memories is that they are impermanent.

All memories fade. The mind simply can't hold on to all of that information for every single second of every single day. The mind holds on to memories from significant events longer, but eventually they, too, fade away. 

You might think that even a traumatic event is permanently seared into your mind - after all, you still remember it so vividly and strongly - but when you talk to somebody else who also experienced it ten years later, they remember things very differently. 

No matter how iron-tight you think even the smallest part of your mind is, it simply isn't. And that is precisely the reason that we must write.

Don't Press Delete

For some reason, it is far easier to press Delete or Backspace than it is to press any other key on a keyboard. It seems odd, but I constantly see people writing things and them deleting them. Then they write something else and delete it again. Then they go and rewrite the first thing they came up with and go ahead and delete it again.

The point of a first draft is not the words; it's the structure. It's about getting down the concepts you care about. It might also have some of the layout that you want. But aside from that, the words are not the concern.

If you are always deleting what you write, it's probably because you are agonizing over the perfect wording. That is going to be your downfall. It will take more time to try to find the perfect words than it would to spit out a draft and have it revised. Not to mention, no matter how good you think it is, all first drafts have to be revised at least some. 

I've talked about this idea before, but I feel it's important to come back to the subject with a new way to say the same thing and to have a new trick.

Don't press delete. Write without backspace. Whatever comes to you, let it out and don't worry about if it is just right or not. Just get down the ideas and move forward.