13 February 2009 - 20:26Wisdom from the Pen

A few months ago I was listening to NPR, and they were doing a story on some brilliant and powerful Latino gang in Los Angeles.  The thing that they singled out as a major factor in this gang’s success is that the leaders were lifers — in prison for life, but also dedicated “careerists” who devoted themselves to the gang.

One thing they did was when in solitary confinement, they had to come up with 1000, that’s ONE THOUSAND, ideas a day.  Every day.

Talk about your mental discipline! These guys have turned prison into a top think tank.

Of course, a writer I know who has a family to take care of said something like “Oh, yeah, well that’s easy when you don’t have to change diapers and clean house and run to the day job, and fill out taxes…”

Maybe we need to put ourselves in solitary once in a while.  And I don’t mean like the self-funded fellowship I’m saving up for. I don’t mean for writing.  I mean for THINKING.  For brainstorming.   That’s one of the bits of wisdom world leaders were overheard giving to Obama when he travelled overseas before the election.  “Schedule time just to think.”

Fortunately, that’s something that’s a part of the job when doing something like writing the tiny articles I’ve been doing.  It’s also one of the things that those pulp writers learned, having churn out story after story.  Donald Westlake was ingenious because he had trained his brain to stretch the limits on new ideas.

A few more of my eHow articles:

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