I am currently on the Oregon Coast, at Siltcoos Station. This is the 17th annual Ghost Story Weekend, and there are fourteen of us here writing ghost stories. Tonight, in the hopefully-haunted boathouse, we will read our stories to each other and try our best to give each other the willies. It works. It’s fun, and fourteen new ghost stories will enter the body of literature.
Participants are allowed to come prepared with ideas, but the fun of it is to write hard, on demand, for 24 hours and complete a short story. The result is first draft, to be sure, but it is also good training. There is no time for futzing around, or leisurely drinking coffee and picking at our feet. We have to write, and if possible, finish in time for a second run-through before we eat our dessert and settle in for the spooky readings.
Several of the students here participate in the National Novel Writing Month, wherein they join people across the world, writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. There is a launch party, a “Thank God It’s Over” party, and all manner of “community” events on the website, where participants can share their anguish over the process.
Again, it’s writing hard, relentlessly. Creativity on demand. Excellent training. As was told to me by a long-time friend: “in the end, when all else fails, we will never rise to our own expectations, but we will fall to the level of our training.”
So train yourself well.
If someone wants to be a professional, there are no excuses. One gets up and goes to work. If one wants to be a dilettante, well, that’s a blog for another day.