Have you ever seen a blacksmith at work?
It’s easily one of the more entertaining things to see.
There’s a popular vacation spot in Michigan called Mackinaw City. Here, there are historical recreations of life in the fort built there years ago. It dates back to the fur trade and when northern Michigan belonged to Great Britain.
By far my favorite thing to see was the blacksmith. He would have a piece of metal in the forge, letting it heat up till it was glowing red or yellow. Then he’d take it from the heat and pound on it with a hammer.
Sparks flew everywhere, and it was a delight for my small eyes to watch such a display.
He’d work quickly, working in rhythm to shape the metal, because he only had a short while to work before the metal cooled to the point where it would no longer move under his blows.
And so the pattern would begin again.
But it’s that short few minutes.
All of your work has to be done in that short window.
I’ve always felt a similar way about writing.
You have an idea. It appeared out of nowhere. And now you must act. It’s a race against time. You become the blacksmith and hammer away at the keyboard.
The idea slowly but surely starts to take shape. If you beat it too hard and try to force it to your will then it won’t work.
If your work with it and let it tell you what shape it wants to take then you’re onto something. You’re taking some raw material and making art out of it.
Just, with writing the raw materials are bits of ideas and scraps and details of a story, which you heat up and mold into something great.
The metaphor works in other ways.
Think about how many stories you write.
Think about all the articles you might put out a day, a week, a month. Now, some people think that you should take a measured approach. You should go at a reasonable pace.
Set limits for yourself.
I’ve never been good at holding back. I, well, strike when the iron’s hot. I write, and write, and write some more.
It’s what works for me.
Some writer’s worry about writer’s block. For me it’s never been an issue. For me, it’s always been like trying to hold onto a runaway train.
I think while the ideas are flowing and the words are coming then I want to put out as much material as possible. I want people to struggle to keep up my work.
I want it hard to avoid my writing and for it to show up everywhere.
I’ve heard some writers say that they want to keep their better stories under wraps and wait to put them out when they’re more successful.
I disagree. I’m going to put out as much as possible and it just forces me to think of more.
So, write. Write often.
I want to write as possible. You could meet your maker tomorrow. Things happen. I want to meet him with more stories on paper than in my head
And strike while the iron’s hot.