1. Sit down with pencil and paper and say “Hmm.” Don’t think “Hmm.” Say “Hmm.” Louder. (Don’t stand up. Research shows that standing-up tricks your brain into thinking you’re going out for a beer or upstairs for a nap, or out for a beer followed by a nap on the pool table at Sal’s. Sitting down with pencil and paper, however, fools your brain into thinking you’re Shakespeare, or possibly an actuary named Mel.)
2. With your pencil (in your hand), write down “Hmm” (on your paper), being careful to include only two ems. In some cultures, Hmm is spelled with anywhere from three to 17 ems. (Example: Hmmm or Hmmmmmm or Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,” are all misspelled.
Caution: there are people whose lives are so full and beautiful that they spend hours counting other people’s Hmm ems. If you misspell Hmm, they’re going to let you know and they will pass along some of their honking fullness. Set your firewall to stun.)
3. Write down three words corresponding to the three letters in Hmm. (Example: Hold My Modigliani.)
4. Think about something other than Hmm without actually saying or thinking Hmm. (This is essential. Both Hemingway and Aesop were masters of this. Ironically, they are both dead.)
Whether it takes you a minute or a month to get this down, once you’re down you are also funky–unless, like Papa, you put a shotgun in your mouth and pull the trigger with your big toe. (Avoid Papa’s embarrassment: Remember to clip and sand your toe. Important: remove shoe and sock before jump starting the hedge trimmer.)
5. Hold that thought about something other than Hmm. In the meantime, write down the word something followed by a colon (example: something:).
6. Now the tricky part: write down the something other than Hmm that you held before you wrote the word something followed by a colon, after the colon. Make sure you don’t write the word something, but the actual something you actually thought about other than Hmm and held because I told you to. (Example: Something: Two-ton Tony Galento (Note: no Hmming).
Note Note: If you forgot to hold that thought because you are puny or you have Carpet Remnant Syndrome or you’ve never had to think and write something and then write something you were thinking, get out.
7. Think about a white horse. Write down the words “white horse.”
8. Stop thinking about a white horse. Write down “I’m not thinking about a white horse.”
9. You’re still thinking about a white horse, am I right? That’s because YOU WEREN’T LISTENING. Just like the would-be writer Lobotomy Larry Lewis. He used to be just plain old Larry Lewis but he couldn’t stop thinking about a white horse. I think you can see where I’m going with this. If not, try reading the 247 blank pages of his biography “HMMMMM: My Forehead’s Got a Hole in it.”
10. The Money Step. Upon completing this step you are officially a world class writer—but only if you follow this program religiously. If you’re allergic to religion, follow it non-religiously, but I’d watch out for lightning.
Step 10 represents a paradigm change in learning how to write gooder. No more thinking about something. Not even something stupid. Something is for hacks who write things like How to assemble a kitchen table without a kitchen.
Let’s review: Forget about something.
Now, start thinking about…ta da! Anything.
Go ahead, write down the word anything, followed by a colon (e.g. anything:) Now, write your thoughts about anything.
Yes, even anything at all.
Except, of course a white horse.
*FYI: While I fully endorse these steps, I have never tried them myself so I have no idea if they work. But they are pure logic, so how could they hurt? If they do hurt or cause bleeding, loss of limb(s) or whining death, keep it to yourself. I reserve the right to not give a fat furble.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2015, all rights reserved.