The idea is simple--write 3,000 words a day, five days a week. Also, write and draw two comic pages every week. So far I've done a pretty good job keeping up with this schedule, though sometimes, like today, writing feels like pulling eyelashes.
I got this piece of advice years ago from someone a lot better than me--King, Bradbury, Ellison, you know, someone that if the world worked like a bad voodoo horror novel you'd rip out their heart and eat it to gain their power--that you can spot a successful writer because they keep writing even when "the muse" isn't speaking. Now for years this made me want to find one of these guys, go to their house, and hold up a couple crumpled dollar bills and offer to exchange them for where you can get a muse, seriously man, I know you know where to get them but you're just not telling, but I drove all the way from Massachusetts so you've gotta tell me, right?
But recently I've actually paid attention to their advice and it works pretty well, even if some days it's like ice-skating uphill (to paraphrase a line from Blade that still bewilders me). Still, it's tough to see those beautiful ideas smothered and nailed to the corkboard, because they never sound as good as when they're in the echo-chamber. Like: somewhere in the ideosphere there's a fucking revolutionary comic that takes place in an original universe with so many seemingly trivial yet deliciously ironic details that it casts a dazzling, clarifying light on the mundane political and epistemological absurdities of our own world while simultaneously presenting a plot so fascinating, characters so rich and warm and complex, that our reality seems like a pale and uninspired parody of it, like we're living in Hollywood world with blank red cola cans instead of Diet Coke where no matter how many hamburgers the main character eats you never quite see the Golden Arches. Like it's super-Gibson, not just name-dropping Braun and places in Micronesia you've never heard of but you know they're there, but creating something wholecloth that feels even more real than what you see outside.
Yeah, I'm sure that comic book exists, but it's not mine, not even close. And part of it's because Broken Space is a way for me to learn how to draw, so the pictures are like first-year Penny Arcade crossed with a grade schooler's spiral-notebook Vegeta sketch, but part of it's because I keep following whoever-it-was's advice: just keep working. And it works! (I can tell because if the comic was only in my head and nowhere else it wouldn't work.) I almost never sit down already inspired, and when I do get the lightning-bolt it's, like, five words. Here's the latest Oh my GodI've got to write this down right now:
"If you died here, you'd be home already."
On a church or something, I dunno. I can't exactly type that one out and send it to Weird Tales. My lightning-bolts are sadly truncated and most of them suck. But if I just sit down, most of the time after a thousand words or so the ideas start flowing, the muse shows up (hopefully depriving some successful science-fiction-writing bastard of muse juice for a few hours; go for a walk, Miéville, I need help and I'm borrowing the good-idea-fairy), and I can actually get something done. Most of the time, after a few words, I'm in the groove, and when I reach 3,000 words I'm thinking that I'd like to write a few more.
Like now, but I had to write this thing, and now I have to go watch a hockey game. And this time I'll remember a damn notebook, in case any of those useless lightning-bolts show up.