“I’ve given it all she’s got, Cap’n. If I push any harder, the whole thing’ll blow!” Scotty, Chief Engineer, US Enterprise NCC1701
Wednesday’s little quiz really stirred up a shit-storm (so to speak).
I am shocked — SHOCKED — at the level of potty-mouthed dialog that went on in the comments section.
Okay, actually, I’m laughing so hard my stomach hurts.
Thanks, guys. Really. From deep in my heart, I appreciate all the shared wisdom and wild-ass stabs at delivering the answer to the question: “What is Rule #3 for Physically Maintaining A Kick-Ass Writer’s Existence.”
I’m sorry I couldn’t comment during the brawl that broke out, but I was on the road. Strict radio silence.
As it turns out, the winner roared across the finish line just a few minutes after the post hit RSS feeds. I’m just really glad the answers continued to pour in, anyway.
I’ll reveal the lucky fella in just a moment.
… drum roll, please…
… The Correct Answer:
… “Be A Good Animal”.
That’s polite code for purging your tubes — all of ’em — regularly.
This includes your intake tubes…
… your elimination tubes…
… your reproduction tubes…
… and every other tubage that processes snot, shit, wax, oil, hormones, lube, sweat, and all the other fluids and quasi-solids produced by your system.
(Are you blushing yet?)
You can’t write when any part of your animal structure is constipated — including the usual back-ups…
… AND the metaphysical stuff like emotional blockages and stockpiled anger.
Every great writer I’ve ever met knows about the need to be a good animal. Pick your favorite beast, and use it as an Avatar.
Puma. Tiger. Lion. Hyena. Meercat. Whatever.
Stay clean, lean and mean… and keep all body parts functioning at primo levels.
(By the way, not all great writers follow this advice. Ignoring this rule is how you get your Hemingways and your Hunter Thompsons and your Kerouacs… brilliance gone to shit, and even suicide, because the system broke down from abuse.)
Look — I’m no tea-totaller.
Just ask the crew of writers I invited to this last Hot Seat seminar in San Francisco. We channeled the Algonquin Table every night… and there’s a good chance the rumors you’ve heard are true.
It was an over-the-top blast.
You get a bunch of thirsty writers together for longer than an hour, and stand back. The verbal riots will not be televised.
However, there were overtones of moderation, even as we bent elbows till they tossed us out on the sidewalks.
Cuz we had a job to do… and our strict professionalism demanded fealty to the gig.
And that’s the key: Moderation.
Yes, it’s a cliche.
Good animals indulge in life with gusto, and eagerly embrace vivid, reality-crunching experience.
But they are also serious about recovery, and about maintaining a near-perfect Zen-like balance before and after those bouts with excess.
Don’t let yourself get constipated, on any level, in any part of your system.
That’s the rule.
The details of how you clean your pipes are up to you.
God knows there were plenty of detailed examples in the comment section.
I am SO pleased with all of you. I think folks will be talking about this little quiz for a long time.
Okay — the winner:
The fourth person to chime in.
Nice work. To win your prize — a fresh, signed copy of “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Markeing Rebel” — simply reply to any email you’ve gotten from us to your main email address, Jesus. (Easiest would be the email notification you get when a new post appears in this blog.)
Put something about winning the blog quiz in the subject line. And give us your mailing address.
My personal assistant, Diane, will take care of everything else.
There were lots and lots of honorable mentions in the mob. Too many to name.
And nearly as many dishonorable mentions. Some of those were my favorites. (Kevin, Lorrie, Nathan, Matt… you should all be ashamed of yourselves.) (In a good way, of course. You all gave excellent insight to how real, working writers navigate their day.)
That was just a load of fun.
Thanks to everyone who made my day by making me laugh… and think… and realize there are still many different ways to skin a cat. So to speak.
Have a great weekend, will ya?
P.S. For the record…
… I’m writing this P.S. late on Saturday, and I want it noted that I’ve received several Twitter notes from people who DID blush reading this.
They just didn’t want to come out and admit it in the comments here.
Folks: It’s okay to not be a ribald, sex-obsessed, semi-degenerate as a copywriter.
However, most of the best do tend to lean to the dark side. And, truth be told, they actually enjoy the atmosphere there, and jive well with the company.
Just note that for future reference, and get back to writing as well as you can, using what you have in your Bag of Tricks.
But also, you should congratulate yourself for daring to peek into the darkness a little bit. No one will fault you for blushing.
Shyness and inexperience can be overcome.
The ONLY thing that disqualifies you from eventually becoming “great” as a writer (fiction, nonficition, or copy)…
… is cowardice.
We have to go where most fear to tread. We have to buck up and see the world as it is, not as we wish it were or believe it ought to be.
Writers need to be realists. And embrace reality, good or bad.
It’s not a gig for wussies.