The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rise of the Machines

O.K. Yesterday we were looking at fears from a successful guy who wants to publish a novel, and is worried about that "10,000 hour" barrier to mastery. Some more points:

1) You have to be "in the zone" to access your highest skills. Keeping one eye on where you're going, rather than where you are, automatically takes you out of flow. Your attention should be on setting up a daily process, what I call a "machine", that will take you to your level of excellence. Then, merely be certain your "machine" runs perfectly every day, and you will be doing everything it is possible to do to max out your skills.

2) Here is a general example of what I call a "machine" in the arena of writing:

a) Write 1000 words a day.

b) Read 10,000 words a day.

c) Write a story a week, or every other week.

d) Finish what you write

e) Put it in the mail (submit it for publication)

f) Keep it in the mail. When it comes back, send it right back out. Keep records.

In my own life, I set a goal of 100 stories finished and circulating. I promised myself I would not doubt my ability to publish until I had all 100. I made it to about 22 before I started selling, and stopped counting.


The above program can easily be designed to require about an hour a day. 30 minutes of reading, thirty minutes of writing. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I create rough draft, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I polish the previous day's work.

This pattern can be adapted to other disciplines and goals--but the point is to create a daily ritual which, if executed properly, will take you to your goal. Set it up so that your goal is within your capacity to finish with style. Write one page, read ten pages, etc.

The idea is simple: concentrate on what there is to be done TODAY. Don't worry about yesterday's failures or tomorrow's problems. Fulfill TODAY'S tasks perfectly, and do the same tomorrow, and tomorrow. It is impossible to succeed every day, and fail at life.



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